Productized Consulting Guide With Tips & Examples
- Productized consulting makes a large part of the service business automatic, for instance purchasing services, invoicing, and data collection.
- Narrow down your consulting services to those that work well, are easy to automate, and can be done with minimal manual input.
- Validate your newly created offer, tweak it, and finally start marketing it in order to make it successful.
Calls, proposals, invoices–the life of a consulting business owner often revolves around administrative tasks instead of focusing on completing projects. Even when you finally hook a client and deliver, the project scope changes, you underestimated the budget, and you are hit by sky-high client expectations.
The solution to the above scenario is productized consulting–a business model that allows you to automate your tasks, spend less time in calls, and more on delivering services.
Let’s take a deep dive into the productizing process, and show you what kind of options you have as a solo consultant.
What is productized consulting?
As a consultant, your industry experience and knowledge are incredibly valuable. Sadly, many professionals sell their knowledge in projects, which have the following issues:
You need to hop on a call to find out what prospective clients need.
You need to estimate the time needed to complete the project.
You need to send a custom proposal and go back and forth until the invoice is paid.
What often happens is that the client changes the scope, demands extra work–and all of that in the same budget.
Here’s where the productized approach comes into play. Instead of taking on projects, you pack your knowledge into services with a fixed scope. Only that service offering can be bought using a simple one-page checkout.
Why productized consulting services can boost your business
Consulting businesses don’t scale easily. Many projects are one-off solutions rather than an ongoing project. On top of that, there’s a long sales cycle that takes ages to complete. Charging by the hour is also not a great way to measure your success. Even the biggest project might be billed by the hour, to make sure that you’ve only charged the amount of time you spent on the project.
Instead of selling skills on an hourly basis, you can switch to the productized business model, package your skills into products, and only sell those. How can this boost your business? Simple, packaged products allow you to automate many tasks:
Service purchases, invoicing, and intake form collection are all automatic.
Based on the service purchased, you have a list of tasks that need to be done.
Some of those tasks can be automated as well.
Let’s look at a concrete example, a consultant who analyzes slow websites. Upon service purchase, a Zapier automation could run the client website through Google’s PageSpeed tool, and post the results inside an order.
With such a simple flow, you’ve already shaved at least 30 minutes of time off your manual work as you don’t have to
create an invoice,
track the payment,
ask the client for information, and
run a page speed test.
All the information you need is readily available so you can get started on the website speed optimization. And as they say, time is money, so the less you spend on manual tasks, the more you can focus on money-making work.
How to productize consulting services step-by-step
Scope creep is the number one issue that you can never rule out in your sales process as a consultant. Some consultants even charge above their rate just to be sure they don’t end up earning less, but is that a good business strategy?
One thing is true, you need to keep client expectations in check—from the very beginning. However, a better consulting approach is to narrow it down to a few types of services that
your clients have been happy with,
are easy to automate, and
don’t require a lot of manual work.
Let’s take a look at what consultants need to keep in mind when they productize their services:
The package: The by far the hardest thing to do is to create a package that potential clients find a no-brainer purchase. It shouldn’t require a full page of explanation to understand the scope, shouldn’t raise additional questions, and shouldn’t seem expensive.
The price: Speaking of the price, it’s important to get the value right. Take into account that the price shouldn’t just reflect the service value, but also your experience, overhead, as well as a margin for periods where you make fewer sales.
Another thing to think about as a consultant is to extend the customer lifetime. Depending on your niche, your sales cycle might be short because you’re only offering one-time services. The good news is that there’s almost always potential for upselling if you keep it in mind while developing your productization strategy.
Let’s look at the aforementioned example of the website speed consultant again. Website speed optimization has become much more complicated these days. It’s not just a done-and-forgotten service, but more of an ongoing process of making sure the website runs well. Which is why many consultants also offer monthly plans for website maintenance. Ideally, you’ll niche this service down and focus on a specific tool, for instance WordPress or Shopify.
The more you niche down, the more high-quality leads you’ll attract because you know the target customer. Knowing your ideal clients, you can easily scale your content marketing efforts to attract new clients.
Grow your industry knowledge
3 examples of productized consulting services that are successful
Enough theory, let’s look at a few consultants who’ve successfully tapped into productization. These three listed below are not included in our existing post with productized service examples.
Conversion tracking setup
If you’ve ever had to deal with Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, you’ll probably wish there was someone who’d set everything up for you. And there is!
Jonathon from measurely.io helps you migrate from GA3 to GA4, set up Facebook pixels, and more. His target group are SaaS owners and freelancers who’d rather spend time on their product/service than reading tracking setup documentation.
Landing page feedback
Ollie from roastmylandingpage.com has bundled his years of experience into a simple productized consulting service: he’ll record a video of your landing page and give you tips on how to improve it. Simple, right?
After launching his service a few months ago, he’s made adjustments to his own landing page, adding client testimonials to it, a sample roast video, and more. As you can see, there’s always room for improvement, especially when it comes to landing pages.
Google Business Profile optimization
Bradley from Local Fury leverages his experience of working over 14 years in the SEO industry. With his team of highly skilled experts, he’s now helping business owners to rank higher in search results.
Compared to similar service providers, Local Fury doesn’t manage Google Business Profiles, but creates engagement signals instead. This boosts the profile, allowing it to rank higher in search results.
Validating your productized consulting offer
I’ve mentioned Ollie from roastmylandingpage.com above, and one thing he’s done well is validating his offer. He’s quite active on Twitter and has documented how much time he’s spent on the entire concept, especially the landing page and pricing.
When it comes to consulting, you need to find out exactly how much to charge for your service without making it too expensive. This is often a trial-and-error process, but it can be fruitful. Here’s what Ollie has learned after his side project took off:
on top of his recurring service revenue, he got direct freelance marketing work from roasted clients
he’s added follow-up services for copy rewrites, conversion analytics, and more
the roasting service went viral on Hackernews, and he earned many newsletter subscribers
The lesson to learn is that productizing consulting services doesn’t have to be your main revenue stream. It can be a sort of foot-in-the-door offer that brings you potential new clients whom you upsell on other services. Even those not interested in your services can be captured via an email newsletter, nurtured, and sold services to at a later point.
Marketing your productized service
Let’s talk about Ollie’s landing page roast again, because he’s very transparent with his strategy. As he mentions in a blog post, he’s not just launched the service and waited for clients to magically find him. Instead, he’s invested a few thousand British Pounds into ads.
For ads to be successful, you need to create service packages that are crystal clear. Clients shouldn’t have any questions when they see their service. Instead, the value should be obvious.
In Ollie’s case, there’s a clear service promise of what you’ll receive, and how it will help you:
It’s your turn to productize your consultancy
I hope this information on the productized consulting approach was helpful and has kick-started some ideas you want to put into practice. Start by analyzing your current services, find out which have a high profit margin, and how you could bundle them. Next, launch your service, advertise it with ads, and make constant adjustments to your service, messaging, and add social proof to it. Experiment with upsells and add your leads to a newsletter, so you can nurture them into paying clients.
The best part is that software for productized services, such as Service Provider Pro, allows you to easily productize your consulting engagements without having to hire a developer who creates a custom solution for you.