Whether you’re running a software product company with a service-based component, a pure services-based consultancy, or anything in-between, there’s one rule that you should apply to your service offerings:
Treat your services like a product
If you’re a consultant, treating your services like a product will help you sell more services, make clients happier, and charge more money. If you’re running a software company with a services component, you can also use productized services to sell more software.
If those benefits align with your goals and you want to learn more, here’s how you can get started.
How it works
You commonly hear consultants toss around the word “productizing” when it comes to selling services. But if you’re a consultant, or want to be one, or you sell services along with your software product, what’s a concrete way to get started?
For consultants, if you haven’t already: design an audit. Think about all of the work you do when you onboard a new client, and try to find the highest quality output you can provide them with all of the data you gather during this process. Glue those two things together, and you now have a productized engagement you can pitch to prospective clients. You can steer them toward the type of work you’re best at, the kind of work that will allow you to have the biggest impact.
For product companies who also sell services, start by packaging your support offerings in a way that aligns with the buyer’s expectations. Don’t simply put “we have great support for all of our customers!” on your pricing page and expect people to nod and smash the buy button. Take the time to consider the types of support that your different customer cohorts rely on and need, and carefully delineate the levels that are available to each.
There’s a lot more attention we could pay here each of these ideas – but the basic idea is pretty straightforward:
- Define your service product around the most value that you can bring to your clients. Ask yourself (or your clients directly!) what you do that is the most valuable, and focus on that.
- Package your service like a product: give it strict parameters, defined deliverables, and focus on what you don’t want to do as much as what you do.
- Price your productized service according to the value it delivers, not the amount of time it takes you to execute.
- Analyze the results based on gathering feedback, length of sales cycles, etc. - this is your opportunity to learn.
- Refine your process and product based on the results of your analysis. And then keep on going.
Here’s more about the kinds of benefits you can expect if you start to treat your services more like a product.
What you’ll get out of it
The biggest focus here is helping you to sell more services so you can make more money. After more than three years of running our two-person consultancy, we can say that in our case, selling a productized service initially has made a huge world of positive difference for us. Instead of trying to sell everything at once, we focus on what is the most important to us: helping clients tell successful stories about their product or service. We learned early on that people assume that if you sell everything, you excel at nothing, and we’ve taken that to heart.
We learned early on that people assume that if you sell everything, you excel at nothing
One of the best ways that you can make more money with your service is to make clients happier, and we’ve seen that the same type of focus that helps us sell more services also helps us understand the impact that it’s having much more easily. When we set up a relationship by telling a client that we are going to deliver this kind of output in that kind of time frame and it will involve these exact working sessions, we have a lot to live up to. But we also have a lot to measure and a lot to learn. At the end of the day we’ve seen that defining our service output using the clarity of language typically associated with product offerings has been very impactful.
Defining and productizing your service offerings also gives you the opportunity to charge more money over time in a way that simply charging more for your time cannot. By value pricing and value selling your product, you can move the price up according with your experience and its value to the market. This does not scale in the same linear way that charging more per hour does.
Finally, if you sell services in the context of a software company, productizing your services gives you great inroads to help you sell more software. Successful customers are happy customers, and being able to provide services as a SKU that can be added as a line item to an invoice is considerably more professional than the old platitudes many of us have put on our product websites. Ticking boxes like this can sometimes mean the difference between winning or losing a deal against a competitor – and it’s not very difficult to achieve.
Can we show you our product?
We hope this was useful, and just in case you’re curious, we productize our services too – and we work with everyone from consultants to product owners and everyone in-between. Want to hear more? If you’re ready or curious, send us an email – firstname.lastname@example.org – and thanks as always for reading.