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Productizing Professional Services So They're More Predictable

Liston Witherill
Liston Witherill
5 min read

About This Talk

This talk is by Brian Casel and was recorded on October 27, 2020. You can learn more about Brian by:


00:00 Intro
02:15 Why Productize
08:18 Creating a Yes/No Value Prop
10:45 Positioning Your Service
16:50 Ways to Choose Your Target Client
25:36 Results of Productizing
26:30 How to Onboard New Clients
27:52 Making Operations More Predictable
33:35 Results of Automation

What Is a Productized Professional Service?

A productized professional service has a fixed scope of work and price. Unlike other, more typical professional services that are variable in both price and scope, productized professional services are permanently fixed.

That doesn’t mean there’s nothing custom or original about productized services. A productized service creates a unique deliverable for every client and every situation. If there were no customization, that’d be just a product!

Why Productize Your Professional Services?

There are three big reasons to productize your professional services:

  • Predictability: once you develop a process and team, you’ll know exactly how to deliver every time, the price it’ll fetch, and the type of client you’ll land
  • More obvious marketing and sales: because the price and scope are fixed, it’s easier to pick a particular client type in your productized services, which makes your marketing offer targeted and more concrete, and the sales process more repeatable
  • Scalable delivery: because of the repeatable and predictable nature of productized service and increased acquisition possibilities, delivery is scalable because you’ll have tightly defined roles, methods of delivery, and quality standards

Create a Yes or No Value Proposition

Brian recommends you focus on creating a Yes/No value proposition. That is, your value proposition should be so clear and so evident that any prospect exposed to it can give you a simple yes or no.

When a prospective client sees your offer, they’ll ask themselves three questions that your productized professional service can answer:

  1. Am I the type of customer this business is here to serve?
  2. Does this business understand my problem as well as I do?
  3. Is solving my problem so valuable that it justifies paying the price point?

Start Here: Position Your Business

By now you might be wondering where to start. Begin by choosing a problem you have insider knowledge about. It can be tempting to go to a new market or a new problem, but start with something familiar and go deep on that.

I like to focus on a type of client and then deliver more solutions to them because it makes selling and marketing a lot easier and more efficient.

Brian recommends you form your best possible “all in” solution and simplify pricing and scope to productize, then start testing.

From my personal experience, I recommend you not reach out to friends, family, colleagues, or other direct relationships to sell your productized service because it won’t help you determine the quality of your offering. Instead, go to strangers from the start using cold email, ads, content, or other means of getting traffic to your offer.

Ways to Choose Your Target Client

If you’re wondering which clients to target with your service, there are three ways to determine who is a good fit for your service:

  1. Start with past results: if you’ve already worked with clients who benefit from your services and you observe patterns in them, start there!
  2. Start with your network: if you have a network organized around a client type or industry, that might be a good place to start prospecting with your service
  3. Staying problem-focused: your service solves a problem, so you could test out marketing and selling your service to anyone experiencing the problem, then determine which client types experience the most value from your service without customizing or altering your process

Results of Productizing

Productizing your professional service will make your sales process much more predictable. From first conversation to close, you’ll know exactly how to run your process, which objections are likely to come up, and how to address them.

That means it’ll also be easier to streamline, automate, and delegate the most critical parts of the business. Once you build systems and prove that they work, you can outsource marketing, sales, and delivery to people who are much better at it than you.

You’ll also have the ability to market effectively. You’ll be able to reach more customers who are likely to say yes because you know who they are, where they are, and the problems they have that you can solve.

How to Onboard Clients to Your Service

Brian believes that onboarding is the experience that makes or breaks a business. As he sees it, there are 3 keys to better client onboarding:

Have a single client intake form.

What you include really depends on what you need in order to deliver effectively to your clients, but having a single form ensures that all clients go through the same process, and your team collects the same information every time.

Solve for common client issues before they happen.

It’s okay if onboarding isn’t optimized for speed – you can optimize for completeness and make your onboarding process a little longer. If it improves the onboarding experience, clients will thank you. One of the keys is to set more expectations. Brian uses a welcome video that shows clients how to ensure successful, frequency of communication, how to submit questions, and more.

Communicate weekly progress updates during the onboarding process.

The beginning is when you want to err on the side of overcommunicating. There’s nothing worse than spending a chunk of money and then wondering what the service provider is doing. Communicate early and often, all throughout the onboarding process and even beyond. You may even extend weekly communication, and it’s common practice for service providers to deliver monthly or quarterly business reviews to their clients.

Results From Onboarding Changes

Brian has found that clients feel reassured and calm. They’re much more likely to refer their friends and colleagues, and lifetime value has increased too. Clients stick around longer, and churn rates are down.

All of that has given Brian more confidence to step on the gas. He can invest in sales and marketing without worrying about whether his team can handle the incoming load because he knows they can.

Making Operations Predictable and Automated

There are three pillars to making operations more predictable:

  1. Remove task management: everyone should know how to execute every task in the business because it’s well-documented and easy to find
  2. Make space for task execution: don’t let your team get bogged down in meetings or administrative work, allow them to focus on doing the work and make reporting and management more automated
  3. Use conditional logic: use if/then statements to help guide the most common questions your team will have about how to do their work; this includes decisions about how to execute based on client attributes, project attributes, or dynamic dates

If you’re looking for a solid software solution that can do all of these things, check out ProcessKit.

Results of Automation

Once you automate large portions of your operations, you’ll begin to notice big changes.

Namely, your business will be less reliant on you to deliver, so you can focus more on the growth of the business.

Your team will be happier because they have more autonomy, and can do their best work consistently.

And that keeps everyone happier, delivering better work, and drives word of mouth referrals.

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