Don’t Sell Intangible Services…Sell Tangible Programs

[editor’s note: This originally appeared in Robert’s fine More Clients newsletter, which I’ve been reading for many years. See link at bottom–Shel Horowitz]

Imagine walking into a car dealership looking for a new car. As
usual, a bunch of salespeople are standing around and one of
them comes up to you and asks if they can help you.

You say you’re looking for a new car.

And they respond as follows: “What we sell here is transportation.
We provide an enclosed metal vehicle which is powered by an
internal combustion engine. This technology was developed in the
early 1900’s and now has advanced considerably. How much
transportation are you looking at getting today?

You: Well, I’m just looking for a car. Can I take a look at some?

Salesperson: First we’ll need to talk to you about all your needs,
the specifications for ideal transportation and then put together a
proposal that would meet your needs. We’ll have that within a
week and then help you choose the best transportation options.

You: Er… let me think about it. (to self: get me outta here!)

I know this is ridiculous. You’d never sell cars like that. But if you
really think about it, this is very much how professional services
are are marketed and sold.

What was missing in our example was an actual, tangible car that
you could see and touch and test drive.

And what’s missing in marketing and selling services is something
tangible, measurable, and even test drive-able.

One of the things you should strive to do in marketing and selling
your services is to make your services more tangible. When they
are tangible you’ll tend to see the following results:

1. Clients and customers will make decisions more quickly. They
will know what they are getting, and it will be less confusing to
them. You can more easily demonstrate what they’ll get.

2. You will sell more of whatever service you are offering. A
tangible service usually sells faster because it feels simpler. You’ll
also increase your word-of-mouth.

3. You will save a lot of time because you don’t have to keep re-
inventing the wheel. Sure, you can still customize services (as you
can a car) but there is always a base package.

4. You can sell at higher prices in many cases. A tangible services
is seen as a more valuable service. In addition, you can get longer
commitments from clients to work with you.

5. Your overall cash flow and success will increase. Because you
are packaging and offering high-end services, your business will
become more stable and predictable.

I’m sure that this is exactly what you want in your business. But
how do you go about making it happen? Here are the basic steps:

1. Commit to packaging at least one of your services. Work at
developing that package or program. Who are the ideal clients,
what are the main outcomes, what is the structure and process
and price? This could be anything from a 2-day workshop to a
one-year program, or anything in-between. What will give your
clients the results they are looking for?

2. Write a detailed description or sales letter for that program.
Tell your prospects exactly what this program is, why they need
it, what they get, and how it works. When you go through the
process of writing about your program, your focus, clarity and
excitement about the program will increase.

3. Develop a step-by-step marketing plan to get the word out
about this program. This can include everything from networking
and speaking, to PR and publishing. But remember, when you
have a specific program to promote, your marketing is both easier
and more effective. You can launch focused marketing campaigns
to sell that particular program.

Yes, all of this takes some time and serious effort.

What follows next is implementing some of the zillion marketing
ideas I’ve presented in this eZine for years. But those ideas are
useless if you don’t have something valuable and tangible to sell.

What program or package of services will you design, develop and
market? When will you start? How about NOW!

The More Clients Bottom Line: If you think you’re in the business
of selling coaching or consulting or financial planning etc., it’s like
being in the transportation business. That’s not a business. It’s
not real or tangible to your clients. Be in the business of offering
a particular package of services or a program that is designed to
produced a measurable outcome.

What intangible service will you package into a tangible program?

By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit
Robert’s web site at for additional
marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional
service businesses. All rights reserved. Used with permission