We have all been told to make a case for the value of our services in marketing materials, sales letters and sales conversations.
Here is the rub: You can only make a case for the value of your service if you have designed that value into your service.
Often, we design a professional service from the perspective of sharing everything we know with our client.
A coach may try to describe to their client in detail brain science research to support a change of habits.
A financial planner may create a 52 week online class with 100 videos about financial literacy.
An attorney may propose a high monthly retainer to a beginning stage entrepreneur.
The question is: are these services actually creating value for the clients?
In order to answer that, you need to explore 2 key areas:
1) What core problem are you helping them solve? Is that the right problem to solve?
2) Are you solving that problem in a way that delivers the most value?
Solving the Right Problem
One of my all-time favorite nerdy training and development books is Analyzing Performance Problems or You Really Oughta Wanna: How to Figure Out Why People Aren’t Doing What They Should Be and What to Do About It by Robert Mager and Peter Pipe.
The flowcharts in this book walk you through a very logical and helpful way to diagnose performance problems. It asks questions like:
- What is the performance discrepancy?
- Is it important?
- Could they do it in the past?
- Is the skill used often?
- Are the consequences appropriate?
Here is a brief synopsis and a picture of the flowchart:
Solving with Value
Once you define the right problem to solve, then you can make sure the way you solve it during the entire customer journey is steeped in value.
I learned about 4 key determinants of value from Skip Miller’s book ProActive Selling. They are: Time, Risk, Return on Investment (ROI) and Brand.
Time: How can you reduce the time it takes your client to get something done?
Risk: How can you reduce or mitigate client risk?
ROI: How is investing in this service saving or making your client money?
Brand: How does this service improve the reputation of your client and make them look good?
Here are some specific ideas to ensure you build value into your professional services:
Service Value Design Ideas
Ways to design services for an efficient use of time:
- Summarize complex information and use good information design to make it easy for your clients to quickly understand and guide decisions
- Automate steps in the client onboarding process
- Design meetings to be efficient and effective
- Analyze performance issues (see above) and focus on the most important and leveraged parts of your service
Ways to design services to mitigate risk:
- Research common vulnerabilities for your ideal clients
- Determine mitigation strategies for the risks and build them into your services
- Utilize good data security practices
- Provide solid support throughout the client engagement to ensure they complete their project successfully
Return on Investment (ROI)
Ways to design services for ROI:
- Determine the business case and range of returns for a typical client engagement
- Develop spreadsheet tools to help your clients make wise financial decisions
- Focus your services on the areas that drive the highest return
- If you do operational consulting, provide information or messaging to help your clients translate operational results into their own service benefits to use in their marketing
Ways to design services to strengthen your client’s brand:
- Provide clear forms of project completion such as certificates, badges or final reports
- Feature the success of your clients in social media, or help them to get featured in the press
- Provide valuable resources to help them be more efficient and effective
- Co-present with clients on topics relevant to both of your audiences
When you design your services using these drivers of value, it will make the sales process so much easier because you will know with confidence that value is literally baked into your professional services.
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