Services – you can’t see them, you can’t touch them and you can’t take them out of the box for a demonstration. Yet all of this is what you must do in order to sell them.
Traditionally, the "intangible" nature of services has provided a formidable sales and marketing challenge – how do you differentiate yourself quickly and easily? And for the prospect, evaluating service vendors has presented a buying risk—they never really know what they're buying until after the service has been delivered.
Today’s selling environment, however, has turned the tide to some extent. Businesses are now working harder to demonstrate transparency and thought leadership by offering free insights, tips, and how-to's through content marketing and social media. These content vehicles allow service marketers to showcase their company's value and expertise upfront, better enabling prospects to get to know the professional service provider before they actually engage.
So, how can businesses be clearer in illustrating their value (and avoid negotiating on price!) when marketing their services? We’ve found one answer is to productize. Package your service so it’s communicated like a product. Make the intangible tangible.
Productizing services makes them easier to buy. It creates a distinct advantage over other service providers and enhances your overall service profitability. Whether you have a service business or you sell services as part of a product offering, think like a product manager and watch your sales effort plummet as your profits soar.
In this two-part post, we give you 4 specific ways to package and market your professional services so that you make them easier for someone to buy.
(Also check out our related blog, B2B Marketing for Professional Services: How to Attract and Convert More Leads.)
Turning a service into a physical product allows you to create a passive revenue stream, reach a larger audience and demonstrate your expertise. Frequently called (Service Name) in a Box or (Service Name) Toolkit, you create tip sheets, templates, worksheets and supporting education pieces that share your expertise at a fraction of the cost of having you consult directly with clients. These tools are packaged on CD or as a download and sold on your website, at trade shows and at speaking engagements.
Examples: downloadable resources for “Writing a Business Plan,” “Creating a PR Program” and “Developing Your Marketing Strategy.”
An important consideration for this is that what you deliver must be substantial and compelling. There is so much free information available online that your tool needs to really help someone take a major step forward. Perhaps it comes with "free" consulting or access to a forum where people can share ideas and challenges. Including consulting is a great opportunity for your buyer to get additional value from your offer, as well as identify if you may be a good fit for additional business opportunities.
This technique works for a service that includes several options and sells at varying price points. Make it simple for someone to buy by offering service packages that meet the different price requirements. Sometimes you’ll see these presented as Gold, Silver, and Bronze levels that provide clients with price and service options – but please, be a little more creative with your package names.
Examples: customer support services for software/hardware products; consulting service for large businesses vs. smaller firms, inbound marketing services that include x blog articles or social media posts, etc.
Another advantage to packaging these services offering levels is that you can publish the price points on your website and use that information as a qualification tool. This will weed out the tire kickers that are looking for “everything for nothing.” Two important points: These options cannot affect the quality of a service, nor can you offer different prices for the same service. These levels must represent differences in the actual deliverables and the total value.
For more insights, check out "How to Market Services – Part 2", where we talk about two more techniques for productizing your services.
Susan LaPlante-Dube created PMG in 2002 and acts as one of PMG’s Principals. As a jack-of-all-trades in marketing, she loves digging deep on a topic and finding new ways to spin old ideas. While she would prefer having some high-tech voice software to record all of her blog thoughts instead of having to write them down, she loves the satisfaction of helping her readers learn something new.