It seems so simple, doesn’t it?
If you’re a coach, you’re selling coaching services. If you’re a kitchen fitter, you’re selling kitchen fitting services. Just churn out as many marketing messages that tell people what you do and off you go!
Unfortunately, this isn’t how it plays out in the real world.
It’s so much harder to craft an offer that not only appeals to the type of people you like working with, but also one that isn’t going to wring you out in terms of delivery. Especially when you get to the stage of having a full roster of work.
That’s why, I’m going to break everything down into a simple five-step process that walks you through exactly how to put together a compelling service offer; then present that offer to your ideal customers.
Let’s dive in!
Step 1: Pick your target audience
Notice the lack of “s” on the end of that word.
You may have several audiences for your business as a whole—but for each one of your offers, you should have one specific type of customer in mind.
It’s a whole lot easier to craft one offer at a time. So the best way to start this process off is to look at all the services you currently offer and pick one to focus on. Then get clear on who’s the best target market for that offer going forwards.
- Which jobs do you love doing the most?
- Which sales calls end in you doing a little happy dance and punching the air with glee?
- And which jobs end with a warm feeling of satisfaction that you did a great job, the client was happy, and you were paid well*?
Do you notice any trends in the types of people who you were helping in these instances? What are the common themes with what they wanted from you? Were there any common themes in their demographics (age, location, business size, etc.) or psychographics (what problems they presented with, how they were feeling, etc.)?
*If you don’t feel you’re currently getting paid well, we’ll cover that a bit later on in Step 4.
Step 2: Find out what they want
Oh, the fun I’ve had devising clever service offers in the comfort of my office…and then had them not sell!
Unfortunately, when we sit there dreaming up services without connecting with our customer, we’re operating in a magical Neverland—not in reality.
So, once you’re clear on who you’re targeting, your next job is to speak to them.
Here are some actions that will uncover what they really want from you, not what you assume they’d pay for:
- Have a look at your business connection and your network.
- Identify 5 or 6 people who fit the profile of your ideal client—as discovered in Step One.
- Ask them to hop on a 20-minute market research call.
- Be humble and ask for their help! They’re doing you a huge favour here. You might even want to offer some sort of compensation such as a freebie. One of my clients even offered to donate some money to their charity of choice in return for their time.
- With their permission, record your conversation—Zoom or Otter.ai are great for this.
- Ask them open, emotion-based questions around how they’re feeling about their current problems and what it would mean to them if they were resolved.
The aim of this research is to get a really clear picture of their “before” and “after”—where they are now, and where they want to be. This will be the bedrock of your messaging.
TRIP UP ALERT!
Something that trips people up at this stage is directly asking people, “What do you want?”
The answers are usually very surface-y and involve the transformation happening unrealistically quickly and/or cheaply.
Moreover, humans don’t actually know what they want!
That’s why this process is about gently unearthing their deeper desires and motivations.
If they say that they want more leads into their business, ask them why. What will that mean for them? What will the knock-on benefits enable them to do?
Keep asking why until you get to a more emotional response.
The themes in these deeper motivations often reveal hidden values that resonate with your own. Behold! You have made your messaging so much more compelling and people will be able to connect with you more easily.
Let’s use an example to help here:
Imagine you were running a weight loss program focusing on people who want to lose 140 lbs or more. You might ask people, “Why do you want to lose weight?”
Superficial answers might include:
- So I feel healthier and more energetic.
- So I can fit into my old jeans.
Deeper answers might include:
- So I can play with my kids like other parents. I don’t want to fall ill or even die early and leave them on their own. I already feel guilty that I can’t run around with them. I’m setting a bad example.
- So I don’t have this chronic back ache anymore! Even getting out of bed is painful. It’s ruining my life. I know I need to do something about it, but I don’t know where to start. It feels insurmountable.
These two different responses reveal two very different ways that you could position a weight loss service: one to guilt-ridden parents who would probably respond to an empathetic and non-judgmental coach; another to overwhelmed people in physical pain who’d probably appreciate a pragmatic, baby steps approach.
Different positioning of the same overarching solution.
Step 3: Your vehicle (the nuts and bolts of the offer)
Once you’ve got a clear (and emotional) view of where they are now and where they desire to get to, you can then start work on crafting your vehicle. How are you going to get your ideal clients from A to B?
When I’m working with clients, this is usually the easiest part because, if you’ve been in business for more than a few years, you know how to solve the problems that clients present you with.
As long as they’re clear on what they want from you, you can help them.
So this is your chance to get it all out of your head and onto paper.
- Do a mind map or list of the steps you’d take them through to get them from A to B.
- Then add in any proprietary methods that you use.
- Include templates, checklists, spreadsheets, processes or apps that you use with clients.
- Include any relevant qualifications and experience—especially if you know your ideal clients will be looking for certain things, e.g. people who only want to hire consultants who’ve been to specific business schools.
The idea is to get the fullest picture possible of what you’re bringing to the table; of why your solution is unique.
Step 4: Formalise and brandify
This is the fun bit!
Once you’ve got all your steps down and/or elements that you deal with to get your clients to their ideal solution, it’s time to brandify each one.
In other words, think of more interesting and compelling names for each step.
- Weekly calorie controlled meal list >> Delicious and Nutritious Meal Booster
- Work out how to get more leads >> The Leads On Tap Method
And an example from my group program:
- Build your service offer that’s easier to sell >> The Sizzling Hot Offer Creation Process
You don’t have to brandify every single element in this way—but at a minimum, try to brand the transformation process. This will become a business asset the more you repeat, perfect, and promote it.
Step 5: Pricing
No, don’t groan! I personally love helping people price their offers.
There are always so many preconceptions and mind reading going on.
A client recently said to me, “I’m nervous about putting the price up for this—even though it gets better results and there’s more 1-to-1 time—because they’ll be expecting it to be cheaper.”
My reply to her was, “Are you a mind reader…?’
We can’t possibly know what people are thinking. So don’t even try and guess.
And definitely do not ask people what they’d be prepared to pay: people always lie when you ask them this question.
Not on purpose. Sometimes they’re trying to be nice, so they’ll say a price higher than they can actually afford.
Most other times, people naturally want to pay as little as possible.
When I worked for a big Telecoms corporation, we used to do yearly research that included what our current customers thought about our pricing.
In the end, we deleted all pricing-related questions from the surveys because customers always said they wanted to pay less—but then went on to pay the higher prices.
The truth is that people don’t know what they’d be prepared to pay until the full offer is put under their nose.
And by “full offer” I mean including the full explanation around the transformation they can expect.
Nobody buys units of time or programmes. They buy the end result.
Even for something as simple as a nail; they bought it to hang a picture or to fix a squeaky floorboard—not to own a nail.
So, the best time to make the decision about what price to put on something is after you’ve got the full transformation in your head and you’ve reminded yourself of the full breadth and depth of your expertise that you’re bringing to the table for them.
Other things to avoid when deciding on your price:
- Comparing your prices to other people’s. There’s usually no point when it comes to services unless you’re in a really commoditised market and you have no desire to change that (in which case, why are you reading this article..?)
- Asking friends and family what you should charge. They probably haven’t got a clue about what you do and are likely to say something lower than you were hoping for, which can be demoralising.
- Working out how many hours of work it’ll mean for you/ your team. This is irrelevant. People are paying for the end result, not hours of time.
- Working out how much it costs you to provide the service and then adding X%. Yes, by all means make sure you’re covering your costs, but again, this “cost plus” approach doesn’t relate the price to the end result.
Why do people charge corporations more than individuals? It’s not to rip them off because they’ve got more money. It’s because the stakes are higher in big businesses. And the likely results are MUCH bigger. Why shouldn’t a service provider be compensated for having a larger impact?
Step 6: Presenting your offers so they’re easier to sell
Here’s a typical sales flow that can be applied to all sorts of sales material that you might want to create:
1. Call to attention:
Specify the type of person who you want to read the rest of the message. Sometimes this step can be eliminated if you’re able to accurately target your message to your ideal audience, but it’s still powerful to call out in unambiguous terms ‘yes, this is for you.’
2. Reiterate their problem:
Outline the three to five biggest problems they’re experiencing right now in relation to the solution you’re offering. Be as specific as you dare! This is when your market research really comes into its own as you can use examples and phrases that your ideal customers have used. Always better than anything you’d be able to dream up on your own.
Show that you understand why these things are so frustrating or stressful. Again, dip into your research and find those deeper motivations. What do these problems mean for them? What are they stopping them from doing?
4. Be specific about the transformation:
Show that you know where they want to go AS SPECIFICALLY AS POSSIBLE. Now’s the time to shine some light and bring some hope. Paint them a picture of what life could be like after you’ve helped them.
5. Introduce your offer:
Do this only when you’ve applied steps 1 through 4. That way, you have their attention and they already know what value you are promising to deliver for them.
Woah, that’s a lot of info! A rip roaring ride through the world of offer creation.
If you get only one nugget of wisdom from this article, let it be this:
Lead with emotion.
Humans make ALL purchase decisions based on emotion first.
We buy things to either move us away from pain or towards pleasure. (Or both!)
Leading with the features and the logical whys and wherefores is a sure-fire way to dampen your sales efforts, so remember who you’re dealing with: a bundle of emotions!
Empathise with your target audience as genuinely as you can. Deliver them the best service possible and you’ll be onto a winner.
Read more about How to make sure your service offers will definitely sell or download my Will It Sell checklist to make sure your offer is ready for launch.