Three Common Offerings with Real-Life Examples
"Joe isn’t a consultant because he provides a package solution.”
That is exactly what a new consultant said to me. But guess what? Joe is a consultant. Just because he is providing a package, doesn’t mean he isn’t a consultant. In this scenario, Joe is offering clients what some practitioners referred to as a “market-focused consulting service” in addition to an overall customized solution.
When it comes to providing services to clients, consultants and freelancers have options. Consultants and freelancers can follow the traditional service offering path by providing a customized solution that helps a client achieve what they want and need to achieve. But they can also provide a package approach which you might hear referred to as a productized consulting service. Or they can provide a combination of services as Joe is doing — a package and customized solution.
As more people have become consultants, freelancers, and other types of independent workers providing a package or productized consulting service has become quite popular. It is an option that works well for some consultants but not all consultants.
But what is a package or productized consulting service offer?
Simply, a consultant identifies a high-value but narrowly focused portion of their overall service offering — their how — and then integrates that expertise into a standardized product or service.
There are quite a few benefits associated with providing a smaller fixed price package to a client. Consultants are able to
- work on developing a strong relationship with a client as they obtain a better insight into a client’s needs before proposing on a larger initiative.
- deliver a top-notch client experience providing not only value but a quality product or service.
- open new doors and attract new clients with a low-price high-value offer.
- shorten the “selling” and proposal process with the help of a minimalist engagement letter that might be a simple e-commerce online purchase agreement.
- scale their business by hiring people to assist with package support freeing the consultant enabling them to spend time growing the business.
Clients also benefit. A low-price, high-value product or service for which there are clear expectations provides a low-risk way for a client to get to know a consultant before the client spends funds on a larger initiative.
There are three common types of packages or productized consulting services: market-focused, product-focused, and service-focused.
Consultants often think of a market-focused service as the “foot-in-the door” or “let’s get to know one another” approach. The consultant provides a selected high-value service to the client at a reasonable price. Each person gets to know one another and build trust. A key characteristic to a deciding on the right market-focused service is that the service should position the consultant for future work with the client.
For example: A network consultant who focuses on helping smaller mid-market businesses with their technology might offer to perform an assessment of the business’ network. The client receives a standardized report with findings and recommendations. The client can use the report and discuss it with other technical consultants or they may ask the network consultant if they are interested in helping them implement the recommendations. The help might be first the development of a technology strategy and later assistance with the strategy’s implementation. The network consultant displays the assessment as a service on their website.
Deciding on a product-focused approach requires a consultant to analyze the work frequently asked for by clients and determine if there is a typical scope, average timeframe, and a standardized deliverable. If that is possible, a consultant can create a fixed price package with fixed product deliverables. The package must provide value and specify what the client can expect for the price they are paying.
For example: A writing consultant who focuses on helping authors write books realizes inspiring authors frequently ask about how to market books. The consultant decides to offer a marketing package that includes such “asks” as a press kit and website. A website displays the product offer that includes information such as what is included, the fixed price, and a link to schedule a time for a consultation.
Service-Focused ApproachThe final package approach is a service-focused approach. There are routine needs in every business that clients do not want to concern themselves with but the work needs to be done for the client to be successful. In some cases, that same recurring work is necessary for the consultant to be successful. If it is possible to identify a recurring service and determine how long it takes to complete the work as well as the deliverables to be produced, a consultant might want to create a service-focused package.
For example: An accountant focused on helping small business owners with financial decision-making offers a bookkeeping package to their small business owners. For a fixed price, the bookkeeping needs are taken care of and financial reports created. The bookkeeping package offer is displayed on the accountant’s website as a service but the service is only provided to clients for which the accountant is a trusted advisor.
In every example provided above, the package or productized consulting service augmented the consultant’s customized solution. In all scenarios the consultant made it easy for the client to hire them and work with them. The package created provided a high-value product or service which helped the consultant as well as the client get to know one another.
I believe the benefits of packages far outweigh the negatives for some consultants. For a package offering to work, it must be repeatable and continually provide value to clients. The best packages are based on a consultant’s experience-they help highlight the expertise of the consultant and help them be seen as the “go to person.”
Unfortunately, offering a package or a productized consulting service is not for everyone. If it is not, don’t despair because there are many other ways to help you be seen as the expert.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article.
Laura Burford (Laura’s Consulting Guide) is a strategic advisor for independent consultants and boutique consulting businesses. She focuses on helping them clarify their what, why, who, and how which enables them to build relationships and get clients-simply make money. For tips, techniques, and thought pieces, sign up for her weekly newsletter, Consulting Insights.