Consulting and coaching businesses are great because you get a deep connection with your customers, their problems and goals, plus you can start quickly (and start making money faster) than many other business models.
There are some downsides though. That deep connection means there are always lots of “exceptions to rules”, people flake on paying, it is time intensive, there is a lot of customer uncertainty about what they are buying, and it can be difficult to extricate yourself from the process.
What’s the solution?
Right now I don’t have any services on offer so I can objectively tell you what my solution was, it might well work for you.
I turned my services into products with sales pages.
To engage me as a consultant or coach you hit a buy button. My signal that someone was interested in my services was money arriving in a PayPal account.
That meant that I didn’t have to worry about invoicing people who wouldn’t pay up. Yeah it still happened more often than I would like, but I always got the up front money even if I didn’t get a final payment, and the final payment was a low enough percentage of the whole that I didn’t worry too much.
It meant I only got serious customers rather than freebie seekers or people who didn’t really want to do the work. In my early days I had phone calls at strange hours from people looking to pick my brain so much I put the current time in my timezone on my contact form. Having to pay money put a stop to that, for the most part.
Productising (productizing for Americans) your service means also that you clearly spell out what is, and is not, in the scope, and there is a fixed price. The customer has full buying confidence because they know what to expect, and what your terms are if they are not happy.
It also means that you can get help, bring in other people, delegate and outsource aspects, because again you are spelling out what you will do versus what will get done. Nobody expected me to be able to design as well as Rafal but they wanted my advice. I can code but I am not going to by my own first choice of developer, and so on.
By having an “easy yes” product as my entry point (a website critique), the client got a taste of what it was like working with me. The people who just needed those pointers went away happy, but there was a natural lead in to go further because implementing the advice naturally lead to further needs.
The best part is your services can likely be transformed into products relatively simply, it’s mostly a different perspective on the same thing.
- Who can you most help?
- What can you do for those people that will have the most impact?
- What is that impact worth to them?
- What are the steps and ingredients?
- What do you call that process?
Put that into a sales page, add a call to action and … boom.
This topic came up because I have had several discussions with colleagues about the right and wrong ways to do this. The worst mistake is turning your service into a “me-too“.
What you are NOT doing is commoditising – you still need to offer unique value that provides more benefit than going with someone else. You are not offering a set of bullet points that can be compared feature for feature!
Try it out and let me know how it works for you!