Strategy · Startups

How do you sell a service as a product?

Todd Kovalsky

February 17th, 2016

I am trying to find HR teams that would be interested in using Agile management practices to support HR functions. I have an idea as to what the product is (for example the deliverables could be process diagrams, software solutions, training, etc) but don't know how to package and sell it to customers. I am currently a solopreneur and could use a little help in finding the target market (HR teams looking to make changes), figuring out how to pitch the service, launching a web site, finding partners to get feedback on my prototype, and as a result, I seem to make little progress.
I am reading Steve Blank's book and am trying to get the sale, but am having a tough time....any advice?





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Michael Dowden Director at COTNow, Biz-Guru, Human Destiny, Heliski.ski and EMvision

February 18th, 2016

Hello Todd, I invite you to shift your mindset, its not about your product / service.

People don't by products or services, they by solutions to their problems, so the big question is "what problem/s does your product of services solve?

Once you know this then...
Finding someone / company who has those problems, 
Find out if they actually want that problem solved,
Find out if they have the ability to and are willing to pay for that solution.
Then present you solution in a way that they want to buy from you.
deliver the solution
And Invoice.

Its important to remember that the greater the perceived problem the more people will be be willing to pay for a solution, the money you make is the "exchange mechanism", people don't want a drill they want a hole.  

For example you are looking for free advise on this platform you obviously have a need, challenge or problem, On this feee platform you are likely to receive generic information, if you want tailored solutions and practical training is it is likely to require an investment from you, question is do you perceive this to be a great enough challenge for you that the investment of your will be worth the pay off / return. In the same way your potential clients feel the same, do they truly feel you can provide a solution to their problems that is worth the investment.

A customer is only a customer if they pay otherwise it is charity or P.R but most of us aren't in the business of giving away our services / goods / talents / time for free... doesn't pay the mortgage, successful companies are the one that effectively solve problems, that people are willing to pay for.

Hope this helps 

Michael Barnathan

February 17th, 2016

What's the biggest pain point they're feeling, and how will your product address it? That's the thing to harp on - how you're going to solve their problems.

I don't speak with enough of those teams to know what those problems are, but hopefully you do - if you don't, go out, ask a few, see what really hurts them day to day.

Mark Son Investor / Entrepreneur

February 17th, 2016

SIMPLE...

You sell it like a product and add the service as a competitive advantage.

i.e. sell your book, CD, DVD, eBook, video and add your consulting as 2-5 hours of included service and charge for any extras.

email me for more info.

Cheers,
Mark

Kim Albee Marketing Automation & Content Marketing Strategist

February 18th, 2016

Hi Todd If you have or can get to your target audience, send out an invitation for an X session class on it and charge for it and see if you get any purchasers... You may get a few. That will prove the initial efficacy for the idea. Make sure you round it out by inviting people (friends you know who fit your target customer profile) so it's full. Upon having people sign up send out a questionnaire that gets their input and questions on the specific things that are pain points, and design your first session around those things given your approach. Deliver via Webinar and record the sessions - prepare your slide deck and downloadable materials for that first session. Then do the same for each session in your 'class'. You will build a training that your target audience needs while making a little bit doing it. Then turn around and edit the material into an online available video-based class and set up a membership site that delivers it using WordPress and the LifterLMS plugin (it's a learning management system that is excellent) - and sell access to it (easy extension with LifterLMS). I highly recommend you purchase the book "Launch" by Jeff Walker. It will walk you through how to launch your product. I think it walks through this approach and a ton more. Hope this helps! Kim Kim Albee President Genoo,LLC www.genoo.com 763-383-6081 x102

Curtis Guilbot Executive Agile Coach

February 18th, 2016

Hi, Todd. 

I do this (not specifically HR, but similar idea).  My engagements are generally 6 figures for 2-3 months. 

DO NOT sell yourself short for a few hours of consulting on the back of an info product, and DO NOT build a SaaS company if that is not your passion & competency (you will quickly find yourself in a very different business).  

You need to solve the sales problem FIRST. Fortunately, there are clear paths to that end. 

I'm doing a workshop for fellow consultants in San Diego this April. PM me if you're interested in my approach.  

Zachary Friedman Experienced Software Engineer and Technology Leader

February 17th, 2016

Todd, I could discuss this forever, but I'll try to be as brief (and beneficial) as possible. Bottom line, the issue I've found with "customer development" is that it starts with an idea that you are trying to find people to buy. But building the thing is always the easy part, the people and the sale is ultimately the hard part. So I would really start there. That's how I think customer development kind of has it backwards. So if you can bring yourself to maybe *temporarily* divorce yourself from your idea, and learn as much as you possibly can about HR teams, I think that is a good first step. There's a lot more you have to do obviously, but that will help you ultimately discover what they want and what they'll buy.

Srinivasa (Moorthy) Chief Executive Officer at Andhra Pradesh Electronics & IT Agency

February 18th, 2016

My suggestion from my previous experience. Get your service delivered on a software platform (something like workflow) so your service is visible as a product with the SW platform. You can use the platform in a subscription model so that customer cost is low and buys only what he needs.  

Eyal Assa Director of Product Management and Sales

February 18th, 2016

My best practice is not to build what I think is "the product", at least not as complete concept and packaging, but to start with one potential customer (or 2 but not many), study their needs and problems, and then build a "tailor made" product packaging for each one with the accurate solutions. When you are starting something new, it must be relevant to whom you're selling it to, and it means that THEY must think its relevant, not you...
Once you have several sales and customers, you can start building the final concept and packaging. Bare in mind that the first few are the hardest, and that flexibility and creativeness are extremely important.
Good Luck!

Chetan Vinchhi Cofounder at Lifetape

February 18th, 2016

1. Validate the fit with a few customers first. Let it be essentially a service, though you can sell it as a product (book/cd/video/pictures + training).

2. Once you have a set of paying customers, you take the learning, referrals and feedback from them to bring your offering a couple of notches closer to product, i.e. sell the hottest process diagrams and collaterals with a video tutorial. Personal consultation can be offered as a premium service.

3. If hypothesis #2 succeeds, put the wares up for sale on a webpage and sell through adwords, SMM and other methods. You can do this in parallel with #2 of course.

4. For #1, pitch in LinkedIn groups and other places where HR folk hang out.

All the best!

Karl Schulmeisters CTO ClearRoadmap

February 18th, 2016

The suggestions here are good. Realize also, this isn't a virgin market:
http://www.humanresourcesonline.net/4-scenarios-agile-hr-function/

https://www.cprime.com/tag/agile-human-resources/

http://www.bersin.com/blog/post/The-Agile-Model-comes-to-Management2c-Learning2c-and-Human-Resources.aspx

http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/research/hr-smart-agile-working.aspx


I mean when even Deloitte is pitching the idea its a pretty competitive marketplace already. Sure, Deloitte probably doesn't actually do that great a job atAgile. Then again, theydohave engagement with a lot of clients.


And theway you sell a service as a product? All services are sold as products:the question is how flexible your service is

  • is it as inflexible as buying TurboTax's or Skype's online serviceswhere your menuand pricing options are limited?
  • is it all "ala carte" and the price is negotiated with each customer individually
  • Something in between?

a lot depends on how you plan to build, deliver,and execute.