How To Sell Your Expertise

By VICKY BROWN

So, here you are, out on your own.  For years you’ve been a social media manager, or paralegal, or bookkeeper, or IT systems manager, or trainer, or HR manager or any one of a host of other professional service jobs.  And now, you want – no need – to figure out how to sell those services to people, or businesses, that need them.

But where do you start?  Here are the top 3 things you should consider when you’re selling your expertise.

The first thing you have to do is list everything you can provide.  For instance, in the case of an HR Manager, a short list of services might include:

  • being a consultant on employee relations issues for managers
  • providing employment law updates
  • making sure all documents are up to date
  • writing policies
  • tracking time off
  • collecting timecard information
  • processing payroll
  • managing workers compensation audits
  • handling garnishments
  • reconciling the monthly insurance invoices
  • managing benefit plan enrollment
  • managing COBRA administration

Now, look at everything on the list.  Are there things missing that the competition is selling?  Do you think those things would be important to your potential client?  Are there things on your list that the competition doesn’t have – if so, those items would be part of what makes your service stand out – your differentiator.  It’s important to identify things that set your service apart, because they’ll be realty valuable when you start marketing your services, and they’ll make your marketing message so much easier to create.

What about your knowledge – is your expertise solid in everything on the list.  If you are anything like I was when I started my first company, I had solid knowledge in most areas, and real expertise in some.  But there were a few areas that I didn’t really need to deal with in my corporate job.  So I was, um, rusty to say the least.  What about you, be really honest with yourself.  Which things on the list are not quite in your zone of genius?  You need to know this, because you need to figure out what you’re going to do about it.

For those items – you will either have to get more learning on the subject and improve your knowledge so you can provide that service with confidence; or take that service out of your offering altogether.  Or, you could do neither and just leave it as part of your service offering and hope nobody buys it.  By the way, that last option is a terrible choice!

So, you can decide if you want to learn more, or take it out of your offerings – but to maximize your revenue potential, and just make you better at what you’re doing, I would suggest learning more.  Take a class, get a certification, enroll in a program.  Improving your expertise is a win-win, because it supports a higher pricepoint for your services, and it can be a differentiator, all at the same time.  Besides, if you just strike it from your list of services, and your competition is offering it – well then, it becomes a differentiator for them!

the probability of selling more to a client you already have is 60 – 70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5 – 20%”

OK, you have THE LIST.  The next step is to decide how you want to group the services.  After all, you aren’t going to offer everything as a one off.

So, there are a lot of ways you can group or package your individual services together.

One way to package services is arranging them in relation to the complexity or size of the client.  So, for instance, a specific group of services for small companies, and a different package for mid sized companies, and yet another for larger companies.

Or, you can package services according to how much support the client needs.  A client that has an in-house HR person, may only need occasional backup HR support vs. day to day HR management that a company without any internal HR expertise would need.

Or, maybe you want to organize your services around how they are delivered.  So, services that can be delivered online with automation are grouped together; and then services that require your time are packaged together at a different pricepoint – according to how much of your time is required.  Online coaches use this method a lot –  the services delivered via an online course are one service option; then they add group coaching as another service option, and finally one on one coaching as yet another service option.  And each option has its own pricepoint.  You’ll also notice that the more your time is involved, the higher the pricepoint.

On that note, keep in mind that the time for money model has some real drawbacks.  For one thing, your earning power will be limited to the amount of time you can put in.  Oh sure, you might be able to expand that a bit by hiring other people, but there will still be a ‘time ceiling’.

For that reason, no matter what your service is, it’s always a great idea to think about how you can scale up the business, meaning provide more services at the same or a lower expense cost.  Generally that means technology will come into the mix.

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Another thing that can be a life saver for service-based businesses – well actually, any business – is recurring revenue.  In fact, according to conversion rate optimization company, Investp, the probability of selling more to a client you already have is 60 – 70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5 – 20%.  So when you’re creating your service offering, keep in mind that you want to solidly establish recurring revenue.  You want your existing clients to keep buying from you.  Generally that’s easier to do in a service-based businesses than it is in a product based business, because your clients will generally need your services on an ongoing basis.  But don’t discount the possibility of a subscription type service as well.  The great thing about a subscription based service is the model can be based on a one to many model – meaning, whatever you provide via the subscription should be something you have to create once and can then deliver to multiple clients.  That also means it gets you away from the time for money type of service offering.

And finally, consider alternate ways to sell your expertise.  Think about white labeling – that’s where you partner with someone who provides complimentary services, and offer your services under their umbrella.  So for instance, the HR consultant might partner with an insurance agency and offer HR services to the agency’s clients as an add on to business insurance.  Keep in mind, while this really quickly grows your potential client audience, these are really clients of the insurance agency.  So it’s really important that you work out the specifics of the deal.

Another alternative is going digital, and turning your product into a digital knowledge product.  Generally this means turning your expertise into a class or some sort of course so you can teach others.  You could teach your target market clients, or you might choose to teach others in your field.  So, again back to the HR example, maybe that HR consultant develops courses to train other, less experienced HR managers.

When you really think about it, there are all sorts of ways to package and sell your expertise.  And the great thing is, you don’t have to choose just one.  You can mix and match, or change altogether.  It will all just depend on what stage of they business you are in, and what resources you have available.

Once you’ve decided how you’re going to package your expertise, the next step is designing an onboarding process for your new client.  So take a look at the episode How To Onboard Clients in Your Service Business.

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