How to make sure your service offer will definitely sell: A step-by-step guide

Janine dreaming of a guide that helps make sure your service offers will sell

How do you put together a service offer you know people will buy?

Product-based business owners have it so easy, don’t they? Do you want their products or not? It’s a simple yes or no. 

When you’re selling services it seems trickier. You have to show people the complexity and uniqueness of what you do. You can tailor your service to their every whim. You can adapt what you do depending on their changing needs. 

There’s so much to convince your potential customers of!

Or is there…?

What if there was a way to make it blindingly obvious how you can help them. A way that boils the benefits of what you do down to its essence. So your dreamiest of dream clients will be scrambling to buy from you…

Does that sound like some sort of alchemy? 

It’s not. As with my approach to all things; it’s all very logical and can be broken down into steps. Which is what I’m going to take you through in this blog. You’re welcome! : ))

By the end of this blog you’ll know:

  • How to know if your offer idea is the right one.
  • The one thing you should be wary of when creating a new offer.
  • How to make sure your offer will definitely sell.
  • How to use my 3 Ps of a compelling offer to make sure it’s the complete article.

First of all, a question:

Do you have an idea for a service offer right now?

The reason I ask is that a lot of service-based business owners approach packaging up their services like this:

‘This is the entirety of what I do, I’ll package that up!’

Which is fine if:

  1. People are already buying it from you in some way, shape or form. This could be something you’re charging for on an hourly basis, on a day rate or a per-project rate.
  2. People are asking you for it e.g. ‘you’ve told me how much to build my website for me, but how much would it be to include SEO keyword research?’ 
  3. You know people are buying it from other people. Keep an eye on this; sometimes it looks like someone has launched an offer that is selling like hotcakes, but if you don’t know for sure, don’t assume.

I describe these as ‘pull’ factors. Your potential clients are pulling on you for something. The demand is there, if you put something together to fill that demand it should sell pretty easily. (As long as you get the messaging right and remember to tell everyone about it etc…)

BUT…

Packaging the entirety of what you do up can lead to a very complicated offering that’s difficult to explain. Things are always easier if there’s one clear ‘must-have’ outcome.

For example, if you were a tech expert you might be able to help clients get all their funnels set up, optimise their website, set up Facebook ads, coach them through the process of setting up email automation, with the result of getting more leads in, allowing them to spend less time doing this stuff themselves, all the while capturing their brand personality. This would be quite a complex concoction to bottle up. It’d be much simpler to pull out one benefit and focus on it.

Ironically, business owners who want to help their clients as much as they possibly can are more prone to stuffing too much value into their proposition. The result is that they muddy the water and actually reduce the perceived value of their services. Counter-intuitive but true!

Don’t have an idea of a service offer yet? 

Don’t worry. For the purposes of what I’m taking you through in this blog, all you need is an idea of:

  • Who you’re targeting
  • What they’re struggling with
  • Broadly how you plan to help them

Ok, so now you have a concept for something you want to offer to your audience.

Now let me ask you this:

Why do you want to launch this service offer?

Stop and think for a mo. Why did this specific idea for a service offer come to mind?

Was it because:

  1. You think it’d be profitable
  2. You’d enjoy delivering it
  3. You have a gut feeling it’d work
  4. Someone told you to do it

Does one of those jar with you? I hope so… 

If you take only one thing away from reading this blog let it be that a big red warning light should start flashing when someone tells you that you *should* do something.

Whether it’s a biz friend, a coach or (heaven forbid) a member of your family, if someone suggests you should launch a new offer stop and check it against the previous three items on that list.

Well meaning, helpful souls all pour out of the woodwork when you’re running your own and show even the slightest doubt about what you should do next. ‘Oh, you should do X!’ Is easy to say, but if they don’t know your goals, business model, values, brand etc. then it’s probably not very helpful advice.

Let’s have a look at the three other, more attractive, options:

1. Do you think this service offer will be profitable? 

I’m not just talking in the short term. I’m talking about whether it’ll support your business long-term or not.

For example, I’ve seen lots of social media posts in the last couple of years suggesting that you should offer a power hour. Power hours are a fine idea if you’re able to establish clear boundaries and price it so you don’t annoy current clients. I’ve seen some really good power hours that serve as a taster that the business owner can use to sell them onto a longer term package. But I’ve also seen lots of people selling power hours as their main offer. A truly profitable offer is one that brings in longer-term revenue.

2. Will you enjoy delivering this service offering?

Have you ever put together a quote to someone, then as soon as you’ve sent it you start hoping they’re going to say ‘no’ so you don’t have to deliver it? I have! I now make a point to only offer to do work that I’ll enjoy with people I believe in. It means that when I come to do the work, I put my all into it with the kind of enthusiasm you just can’t fake. 

3. Do you have a gut feeling that this service offering will work?

Intuition. This is something I’ve been tuning into more and more through the years. ‘Gut feel’ is a shortcut to our subconscious wells of knowledge and wisdom. Often, we don’t need anybody else’s opinion about how to do something, we just need to sink into our own knowledge and trust our own answers.

Wow, that got deep there for a minute! 

Something I was told years ago on my NCT antenatal course, was that you can find yourself searching around for opinions about how you should do certain things. What to feed your child, how to bathe them etc. You’ll only stop seeking opinions when you find advice that resonates with what you wanted to do all along. I’ve found this to be so true! In all things, not just baby stuff. 

So, do you have rough idea of an offer that is likely to be properly profitable, that you’ll enjoy delivering and you have a gut feeling will work?

These factors are ‘push’ factors. The desire to launch this new thing is coming from you, and you’re going to have to work harder to get it out there and sell it.

In a rush and want these steps broken down into a downloadable checklist? Do so hither:

But how do we know for sure that your lovely spangly service offer idea will actually sell?

There’s one fail-safe wad to do that and that’s to… validate your idea!

How to Validate your service offer idea

There are lots of ways you can check whether your offer idea will sell or not. In the interest of brevity I’ve boiled them down to three activities:

  1. Ask your ideal customers
  2. Start a waitlist
  3. Take some money

Let’s start with the first one.

1. Ask your ideal customers if they want your new service offer

There are three important points to be clear on:

A:  Make sure it is your ideal customers that you’re asking

When I suggested that you ask your ideal customers whether they’d buy your offer or not, what was your immediate reaction?

Most humans opt for the path of least resistance.

In this case, it’d be easiest to whack up a poll on your favourite social media channel or zip a quick email to your email list.

This ‘ask the masses’ approach doesn’t allow you to weed out your non-ideal clients.

Even if you did a clever survey that had qualifying questions that disqualified undesirable respondents from continuing, the results will still be detail-poor.

Which leads on to my second important point:

B: You don’t need to poll or survey people to gather insight on your new service offer

Prepare yourself for a revolutionary technique…

You can get people on the phone and ask them things! 😱

Getting people to agree to a 30 min Zoom call seems like a really onerous task. But asking them, with genuine curiosity, what they’re struggling with (in relation to what you do, no need to get into oversharing territory) is the best way to get in-depth customer insights. 

The point is, you get them to ramble about their struggles, explaining *in their own words* how they’re feeling and how they want things to be different. And you make notes like crazy.

After you feel like what they’ve said ratifies your idea (if it doesn’t, thank them for their time and return your arse back to the drawing board!) then and only then do you tell them what you’re planning to put together and ask them what they think.

C: People don’t always tell the truth.

I have no doubt that your dream clients are honourable, honest people.

They don’t lie on purpose.

However, when we’re asked what we think of someone’s new idea, we’ll usually say ‘oh that’s brilliant!’ even if we don’t really think that.

That’s why, when doing market research, we must try not to ‘lead the witness’ by telling what we’re planning up front. And it’s another reason why an in depth interview with an ideal client is worth 100 survey responses for the purposes of testing out whether a new offer will sell or not. 

Now, this is all well and good but as outlined in point C there, people don’t always tell the truth. So even if you have just come of a mind meldingly marvellous call with an ideal client who feels like a soul mate and they loved every syllable to drop out of your mouth, this doesn’t mean that they will actually go on to buy. 

The next option for validating your new service offer idea takes it up a notch…

2. Start a Waitlist

By putting their name on your waiting list, a prospective customer is making a commitment to you.

By giving you their details (name and email address most likely) they’re giving you explicit consent for you to sell to them when you have the offer ready. 

What’s a wait list/ waiting list?

It’s simply a list of people who’ve expressed a desire to buy the service offer you’ve mentioned to them. Ideally you’d set it up within email provider software, like Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign, so you can prove that they gave you permission to contact them.

Once set up; don’t forget about them. Keep them updated as to what to expect and when. You can even involve them in the process and ask for their opinion on minor aspects of your service offering.

The good news about waitlists is that only people with genuine intent will sign up. Hurray! 🤩

The bad news is that usually only a minority of people on a waitlist will end up buying the offer. Boooo 🙁

Which is why the third and final way of validating your offer idea is the best one…

3. Take some money

It could be a deposit. It could be the first month’s fee. Or it could be the whole whack.

Whatever it is, taking some money from people who say they’re interested in your offer is the only way to ensure that it’ll sell. 

Most people are lovely. They want you to be happy. So they might say that what you’re putting together is good. They might even go on your waiting list. But they only truly know themselves whether they’ll buy or not when they have to put their hands in their pockets and pass over their pennies.

When I worked in corporate, we used to do regular market research studies. We’d ask people about the price of new and current offers among other things. And the results always came back as a predictable split of ‘yes, I’d buy it’ (but those people wouldn’t go on to buy) and ‘no, I’d want it cheaper’ (also bearing no resemblance to what they ended up doing). So we stopped including questions about pricing! The results were always nonsensical.

Which validation technique(s) you should I use then, Janine?

That depends on your attitude to risk.

If you’re a planner, you could do each one in turn. If you’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda gal like me, you could just leap to the ‘take some money’ option.

Either way, it’s always more risky to put in tonnes of time and effort building out your offer without validating it first.

It can feel scary, but taking money for something you haven’t yet built yet is a sensible way round to do it.

For a step by step checklist that takes you through all of these considerations, download the Compelling Offer Checklist yonder:

So, you’ve now got an idea for an amazing offer that people have not only told you that they’re likely to buy, but that a few people have actually given you money for.

Now it’s time to build that sucker!

How to do that?

Let me introduce you to my 3 Ps of offer creation.

My 3 Ps of offer creation

Yes, I chose 3 Ps because I thought it’d sound good if all three elements started with the same letter. Gotta love a bit of alliteration.

Service offer element no. 1: Promise

As you’ve probably heard by now, humans make purchase decisions based on emotion first. It’s how we’re wired. Even for seemingly sensible items like insurance or office stationery. There will be feelings and associations that we’ll have with certain brands and companies, possibly dating all the way back to childhood.

Your job here, is to echo back what your ideal customer wants to hear that you can help them with. In a concise way. And ideally in the words they’d use themselves. 

Because our lawyers don’t like use making promises to our clients here there and everywhere, an alternative word for it is ‘messaging’.

The point of messaging is that you echo back your ideal clients’ wants in words that they’d use themselves. This creates an instant ‘click’ of recognition that you:

  • Understand them
  • Know what they need
  • Can definitely help them

Service offer element no. 2: Package

Once they’ve made that emotional decision their brains will start scanning your sales pages, website and posts etc. for rational evidence that you’re the right person for the job. Everyone has a virtual checklist in their head of prerequisites. Now’s the time to use your imagination and guess what’s on them.

You know what’d make this guessing game easier?

If you’d actually spoken to your ideal clients!

This goes back to what I was saying about the importance of getting your dream clients on a video call, rather than relying on surveys. 

You might also have got feedback from previous wonderful clients. ‘Oh I’m so glad you’ve got X qualification or Y insurance.’ Add them to your list to make sure you tick off in your communications with your prospective clients.

The ‘package’ involves both summing up what they get for their money, so their rational brain thinks ‘yep, that looks like it’s worth it’. But also ticking off those other prerequisites such as do you have their expected qualifications and/ or experience.

Service offer element no. 3: Price

One of my absolute favourite topics! Business owners spend a lot of time umming and ahhing over pricing.

It feels like a very emotive topic. We don’t want to be seen to be ripping people off. But if we’re too cheap we’ll be out of pocket… 

The price should be based on the value of the benefits you’re delivering for your clients.

For example, if you’re a sales coach and your ideal clients charge £100k per contract, then you can easily see that charging 6 figures stacks up. Whereas if you’re helping someone launch an online course that they’re only planning to charge £49 for would be a trickier sell at that price, unless your ideal client has a gigantic audience and has every chance of selling millions of them.

Your money spinning service offer idea

Well, have you done it yet? Have you managed to have a cracking idea, validate it and create your perfectly positioned three Ps?

Course not! It takes a bit longer than just reading a blog post. That’s why I’ve put together a checklist that takes you through every step of putting together your own compelling offer.

Download it by clicking this: