If you are trading time for money in your consulting business, then you’re making things harder on yourself than they need to be. You have lots of opportunities to maximize what you’re doing for your clients and get maximum value for it.
Today, I’m going to be talking about how to package your consulting services. What’s the value you can bring to your clients to differentiate yourself, and also close more clients?
Hey, it’s Samantha Hartley of the Profitable Joyful Consulting Podcast. Today, I’m going to be talking about one of the ten drivers of a consulting business, and there are ten drivers. This one is about transformational offers.
You could just call it offers but we don’t really want to just make plain old offers. We want to make transformational offers. We want to bring value to our clients. We want to do things for them that actually transform them, get monumental results. Specifically lasting, sustainable change for them.
That’s the way I think about the transformational offers that I teach my clients to do. So you know that I think of transformation as at least a year long. These are offers that can be in the $100,000 range to the million dollar range. Whatever brings that maximum value to your clients and compensates you for having done that transformation. So today specifically, I want to talk about packaging offers, what do I put in that thing that I sell?
Here’s why I want to talk about this, I want to bring your intentionality to this area. A lot of consultants are just selling time and that’s great. We’ve talked before about advisory services. Advisory services are one of the simplest ways you can do consulting. You show up, you give advice, you leave, you get paid. Like, isn’t that pretty simple? It is. But if you’re doing pure advisory, then you’re comparing your time against another consultant’s time.
I never want the client to be able to say, “Oh, well, we pay you this much, and then we had this many hourly meetings, then that means you’re making how much per hour?” I don’t ever want the client to be able to do that. I don’t want them to even want to think about things in that way. So I love for us to create offers that differentiate you from anybody else. So it isn’t an apples to apples comparison. And if they can’t compare you to anyone else, then you stand out, unique and differentiated.
Years ago, when I started out my first businesses online, I set up my brand and then immediately it got copied by other people and I was like, “That was really strange.” So I made another brand and it got copied by other people because on the internet, there’s a million of my first business, a little e-commerce business that I had. There were a million coaches, once I started doing that, then there were a million consultants. There’s a million of us out there and we have to come down to like what makes you unique.
Sometimes somebody can say, “They came from the exact same corporate background, they worked with the same people doing the same stuff, they’re in the same associations.” So we differentiate ourselves with a portfolio of benefits that we name to our clients and that we bring forward. Nobody else will be able to copy exactly the thing that you’re bringing.
Now, of course, no one is you, and you are the clearest differentiator in your brand. So that’s part of the value that we’re putting in this package. But I also just want to bring some clear intentionality around the components of any package. What is that portfolio value and portfolio of benefits that are in there, and then how do we communicate that?
These packages simplify the communication to the client and differentiate you from everybody else out there. So you’re going to hear a lot about three’s when we talk about this today. Why? Because three is a perfect number. There’s one, two, three. There’s garlic, onions and celery. There’s Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There’s a reason why we remember things in threes.
I have tried in the past with one of my brands to have four specific things that were the differentiators. Whenever I went to articulate it, I couldn’t remember it, so if I couldn’t remember it myself, it was impossible for anyone else to remember that. As you’re crafting your packages, think in terms of sets of three. I had a client one time bring me a proposal to review and it had like a menu of things that she was offering. I’m not saying any of those individual things shouldn’t be in there. I’m just saying you need to chunk it into buckets of three. Because people can simplify in their own minds. They can see things in threes.
So the first set of threes that we’re going to talk about are three ways you can work with clients. DIY, done with you, and done for you. So either the client can do it themselves, they can buy some kind of an e-learning or something like that, or there’s an aspect of the work that you’re doing where they do that part themselves.
Done with you is usually you coaching along with them. They work on the thing, they bring it back to you, or you work on the thing together.
Then done for you is when you have a fractional marketing department, or a fractional technical department and you do certain kinds of the work for them. Whether that’s implementing things on-site for them, or implementing something like a social media strategy or whatever.
Those are the three categories of offers that we can make. We can sell something that’s completely DIY, or something that is done with you that’s usually a coaching program, or we can do a done for you offer where we do things ourselves. I also consider it done for you when we’re on-site and it’s like a very high touch, high level one-on-one work so even though they have to implement it eventually, we are there doing a lot of the installing it into their organization, it is the part we’re doing for them. So you can think in those terms.
That’s the first set of threes. You can think about where you want to live within that. Do you want to just do really high touch one-on-one? This is what a lot of consultants do when they come into the organization, and they do a lot of things in the organization doing it for the client. Yes, of course eventually the clients have to pick up the ball and continue with the implementation, but they are doing things for them. Done with you is, again as I said, it could be more of a coaching program where you are doing things with the client, then you go away and then you look at what they have done in the meanwhile, this is the hybrid of things. Then DIY is you just sell a thing, it can be passive where they buy something on your website, or you give it to them and then they take it from there. So let yourself think about what your particular offer could look like in that sense.
The second way that I like to think about this is when I’m putting together my own consulting offers, the three core components are going to be: Coaching, Curriculum and Community.
So let’s start with the middle one. Curriculum is the fact that you have an IP, you have intellectual property, you have a way of doing the thing that you do, which is unique to you. Now if you’re certified or licensed in somebody else’s program, that’s also the curriculum. You’re bringing that certification to this particular client.
Curriculum is a way of doing things. If you’ve got an e-learning, if you have a whole set of workshops, or something that you do, that curriculum is unique. It’s unique to you. Again, if you’re doing the Stephen Covey thing, and there’s 9000 other Stephen Covey people out there, then this won’t be the piece that’s the differentiator for you. You’re going to have to figure out something else that makes you stand out. But remember that even when you come in for that done for you level, remember where I said it was just advisory?
If you just come in with advisory services, there is still a curriculum in there. You can share things for your clients to listen to, or maybe books for them to read, or you can just share your knowledge and know how. That’s unique. A lot of consultants will just bill on time and forget, “Oh yeah, I have a whole system, a whole approach that is tested and proven to get results that I want the client to see and understand.” So that is going to be part one, the curriculum.
Now coaching is the piece that most of us think of as consulting, that advisory piece. Yes, that is almost always what we’re including in every program. Unless you have a done with you program where it’s just community based, but in that situation you’re always there giving guidance, right? So the coaching and curriculum are always a part of this.
Then the community piece, this is a piece that is especially important right now when we’re all feeling so disjointed. In corporations where you go in and it’s a super toxic environment and nobody wants to do anything with anybody, they’re yearning for community. They’re yearning to connect with someone else who isn’t crazy and who can not just commiserate, but can help them bond over their shared experience, and pull themselves out of it and improve it. If they’re bringing you in, they want to improve things. So think about how you can connect them with others like themselves.
Community in corporate gigs can look like the same role from different divisions across the company. It can look like the same role with different divisions of other companies. It can look like small work groups like the people that they work with every day, so they can learn to do the skill with you and then they can try it out on their own. Community can look alot of different ways.
I really love the idea of creating a yearlong, ongoing community in your projects, especially if you can get them an hour a month minimum outside of their work environment. Outside can be virtual, just connecting with other people so that they get perspective on what they’re doing. Coaching, curriculum, community is one of the most basic ways that you can package your services and you bring that to your client as a benefit. There’s unique benefits to every specific aspect of that, right?
Coaching, you’re going to give them your best advice.
Curriculum, you’re saying, “Here’s the tested and proven methodology, signature system, or approach that I’m using.”
Community is when your people connect to one another they reinforce the learning, support each other, and have accountability. So that’s the sale on that.
What if any of those doesn’t work for you? You don’t want the community aspect, or you don’t feel like you have a curriculum. There’s a lot of other things that you can put into your packages that will differentiate them while still being simple. Remember, when you’re making that offer to your clients I want you to be able to say it in a 1 2 3 version. It should be, “We’re going to work together for this amount of time and here’s what we’re going to do over the course of our work together.” This, this, this. One, two, three. A, B, C. It should be that simple.
It shouldn’t be, “I’m going to do these 95 things for you.” It also shouldn’t be, “Well, I’m going to do this thing in my program,” and all this complication.
It should be, “Well, here’s how it works: there’s going to be coaching, you’re going to get access to me on an ongoing basis, we’re going to do this, this, and this. I have a curriculum which is my yadda yadda system, and it’s proven to do this.” And community, “I’m going to bring you together with other heads of HR across five of my client companies so that you can come together and compare best practices. There won’t be any competitors there.” So three things that you present, when you present that offer. So nobody goes away and is like, “Whoa, I can’t even understand the thing.” Think of things you can add to your offer, so you escape commodity status.
What other ways can you differentiate? If it’s not a coaching, curriculum, community, are there specific events? Is there a special event strategy that you can include here, such as a retreat or an onsite event, which is going to be transformative. Maybe there’s four of those per year. So there’s a curriculum, community and special events. Or I love when there’s like a gift that is critical to the transformation. So this can be a journal, a book, it can be something else which is unique to your methodology, it can be a yoga mat.
A memorable branded gift. Meaning on brand for you, not necessarily just with a logo on it, but something that’s meaningful to you and your approach. A lot of podcast producing companies will gift a new client a microphone. So something that you’re going to need to be successful in the work. Think about what that could be for you.
We’ve talked about the importance of packaging your offer. Not just selling time because that makes you a commodity. We want to package an offer that has a portfolio of value, a portfolio of different benefits. A portfolio to me means three. So that it’s clear, concise and easily communicated. That simple offer is going to stand out in your proposals and in your verbal offers that you make. It’s going to be easier for a client to understand and say, “Yes” to what you do for them.
Packaging your offers is one of the ten drivers of a successful consulting business. Now you can see the other drivers in my pyramid of drivers at my website.
You can download that pyramid, and also assess how you’re doing on those ten drivers. Find out how successful your consulting business is, and where you need to focus to get it to the next level. With that, I am wishing you a Profitable and Joyful Consulting Business. Thanks.