The challenge with selling an intangible offering like business consulting is that people cannot see or try your product in advance. To sell business consulting, personal coaching, insurance, public relations, tax advice and other services, you need to build trust.
Consider these techniques for packaging intangible services:
· Align with a well-known brand and/or professional organisation.
· Offer a package deal.
· Use frameworks and tools.
Use branding to package intangible services
Branding is as important when selling services like business consulting as it is when selling toothpaste, computers or high-end vehicles. A strong brand offers predictability, quality, and familiarity to the client. This lets them know and trust in what they are getting. But building your own brand is a journey that could take years.
One way to sell your services more effectively is to associate your business or yourself with an already known brand. The brand then becomes the promise to a buyer that the service will be of predictable quality. For example, if you sell IT services, you could become an authorised consulting partner for one of the major brands that people already know and trust.
As a financial planner, you could benefit from official relationships with the insurance and asset management companies your clients already trust. Associating yourself with a professional body like the Institute of Estate Agents (IEASA) if you’re a realtor or the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) for public relations practitioners, can give your buyers the assurance they are dealing with a pro when they buy services from you.
Offer a package deal for business consulting
Buyers do not like financial or quality surprises, especially when it comes to something like business consulting services. So, think about how you will offer a package deal that will make sense to your clients – something that offers predictable delivery at a predictable cost.
For instance, if you are selling tax consulting services, think about packaging them as business outcomes for a fixed fee and with a fixed scope rather than charging a flat hourly rate.
Why does this work? It shows the customer that you are committing to a result. Customers also feel like they are getting value for money, which contrasts with the fear that they may be billed for hours of work with no end in sight.
For the consultant, a package creates predictable income. You have transparency into both your income and your workload. Consultants who don’t package their services tend to get all their work at once and can live a lifetime of feast or famine. Those who sell packages know when to say no to potential work.
Use tools and frameworks to package intangible services
Another popular form of packaging is the “framework”. Business consulting firms rely on frameworks to package their intangible services. Harvard’s Extension School has a list of six frameworks used by large firms that smaller consulting businesses can borrow. Each of these well-known frameworks is a way of making it easier to sell intangible services.
Whatever packaging tool you use, make sure it’s one you feel comfortable with and that can be easily explained to your clients. The better the packaging, potentially easier the sale.
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