If you run a professional service company like a consulting business, you're typically forced to sell on a transactional, project-by-project basis.

That's usually because such firms develop deep expertise in a very specific niche or topic that customers need, such as helping an executive team build their strategy.  And when they need that assistance - you get the call!

But if your firm limits itself to just this one offering, it means you've leaving big untapped opportunities on the table. You're losing out on capturing the full lifetime value of your customers and improving the revenue in your business.

You can do this by thinking about your customers in a more integrated way where you can build additional services onto the areas where you have your deep expertise. What other services could you offer that might complement your core business and add value to your customers? What is upstream and downstream from the offer you make?

If you business is focused on creating strategy and working with executive teams, for example, you could consider expanding into a new area like helping to communicate that strategy throughout the customer's organization. Or, perhaps you could help advise them on how they might need to rework their key performance indicators so that they better align with the new strategy? How about a training offer to teach the leaders and managers how they will need to change their behaviors in the new model?  All of these are for the ultimate goal of your client - a successful strategy deployment.

The point is that you want to think about how you might be able to sell the entire arc of your product line as a way to fully serve your customers and meet their needs. Map out the different service buckets that might fit this arc and they decide how you might provide those services using what I call the buy, build, or partner model.

Once you do this, you will dramatically increase the lifetime value of each customer to your business and serve them better.

The trick is to shift how you sell your services.  This means not selling a point solution, but having a bigger conversation about goals with the potential client.  This process of discovery will allow you to map your services into an integrated solution that better solves their problem.  This probably means selling at a higher level in the organization and not all your sales team can make this transition.

A great example of a business that has developed a successful strategy along these lines is Gallup and their employee engagement service line. Gallup offers its Q12 service, which is actually a 12-question survey that is submitted by all of your employees and measures how engaged your workforce is. It's a powerful tool used by many organizations year after year as a way for them to measure their progress or lack thereof.

But Gallup also offers consulting services to help their customers improve their employee engagement scores if they need that help. The system is genius - help find the problem you didn't know you had and then offer a way to solve it - for a modest fee!  (This is also a great example of what I call a "diagnostic and therapeutic" model, which I'll discuss in more detail in a future post).

The point is that if you want to grow your service business, think about new ways that you can serve your customers with a more comprehensive answer and sell bigger.

Published on: Dec 5, 2017
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