How to Sell More Strategy in 2023
Maybe you’re selling strategy, and you want to sell more of it in 2023. Maybe you’ve been thinking about selling strategy, and now it’s time to start. In this episode, we’re digging into everything you need to know to sell more strategy in 2023 with a BS-free look at what you may be missing or need to do next.
Over the next few episodes, we will look at different offers and delivery models for your service business. In this episode, we’re focusing on how to sell more strategy offers in 2023 and help you work through how/what you need to be doing. As I’ve shared in past episodes, selling strategy was a game changer for my business. It changed how I approached my work, how I saw my value, and how clients treated me.
That sounds like a lot, but that’s the power of selling strategy. It helps you take things up a level in your business.
Before we get into what to do if you’re not selling strategy or want to sell more strategy, I want to discuss why this is so important.
The Power of Selling Strategy in a Service Business
When you focus on selling strategy, it shifts how you do business. As a service business owner who works with service business owners, there are a few persistent patterns we can fall into.
Usually, we end up stuck in these patterns through no fault of our own. After all, most of us start our business based on specific skills, not because we have a business degree. We want to get paid to use our skills, and we create a job for ourselves.
We spend years building the business, focusing on finding and serving our clients; then, we notice specific patterns.
Pattern #1: You Give Away the Strategy for Free
I fell into this first pattern during my early years as a freelancer. I wanted to prove to my potential clients that I was smart and knew what I was doing. I found myself on consult calls overperforming and trying to impress them with ideas of how we could work together. A big problem for me was that I’d get super excited as I chatted with a potential client and then get carried away with sharing the strategy I saw for them.
I will never be someone to squash your enthusiasm, but any strategy talk should be saved for when they’re paying you. This is hard-won wisdom, and I can’t tell you how many times I served up strategy on a consult call or in a proposal, and then the client had everything they needed to execute it in-house.
Pattern #2: You Don’t Charge for Strategy
This next one I see a lot with my clients when I first work with them as they overlook the value of strategy to their clients. They simply do the strategy work, buried within more tactical work.
The client doesn’t necessarily know you’re doing strategy work as they’re not paying for it, and you’re relegated to the role of “implementer”.
I remember a client when I wasn’t focused on leading with strategy, and that relationship was so frustrating to me because they kept hiring other people for strategy. I felt overlooked and unappreciated as I watched them spend thousands of dollars on strategy work I could have and should have been doing. (Not to mention, I spent much time being paid way less than they were to fix their crappy work.)
Pattern #3: Working with Clients Who Don’t Value Strategy
Tell me if you’ve had this happen to you. You’re telling a prospective or current client they need strategy and they tell you that they don’t need it. Or they’re “good” and have it covered.
This would happen to me periodically when I was doing copywriting work, as people would want me to write web copy without a strategy. Before I made it a required part of my copywriting process, I would do it for them, as it’s impossible to write copy without a content strategy for the website.
I was doing hours of essentially free strategy work as they didn’t value strategy and wouldn’t pay for it. It would be easy for me to blame clients for this, but I didn’t educate them that a content strategy is essential to writing website copy.
When you sell the strategy, you’re able to break these patterns. You’re selling to the type of client who values strategy, pays for strategy, and ultimately sees you as being a strategic partner rather than just a tactical implementer in their business.
That’s the power of selling strategy. It shifts how you show up in your business, how you deliver your services, and how your clients see you.
This sounds good, but now you’re probably thinking, how do I do this? That’s precisely why I created Sell the Strategy, as you need a framework to help you implement this in your business.
What is Sell the Strategy?
Sell the Strategy is my proven method to help you put strategy first in your offers. The goal is to help you get paid for your experience and strategic thinking to reach your goals.
Maybe you do this in some way right now or not at all. We’ll talk about that briefly, but Sell the Strategy is about putting strategy at the heart of your offers.
You can still do tactical work, but it’s rooted in strategy.
There are four core elements to Sell the Strategy:
Product: What’s Your Offer?
Your strategy offer needs to be carefully designed to fill a real need in the market and fit into your overall offer suite. This is something you likely already do, but it’s hidden away or not recognized for the value it brings.
This combines your skills, talents, processes, and target market into a clear strategy package with transparent processes.
Position: Why You?
Your strategy offer needs to have a unique value proposition, so people know why it’s different, why they need it, and why they should choose you. Without this, you’ll struggle to sell your offer, as people need to see the problem you solve and the results you can deliver.
Price: How Much Do You Charge?
Next, you need to price your strategy offer in a way that articulates the value of what you’re delivering. Pricing your strategy offer needs to consider your target client and industry, current market position, and more. It should be priced intentionally based on how you want to show up in the market and how it fits with your other services.
Promotion: How Do People Learn About Your Offer?
Having a strategic offer is one thing, but you need to be able to sell it. You need a promotional plan to keep it top of mind, so people know about it and want to work with you. Establishing your expertise around the offer and educating people about the problem you solve is key.
You Want to Sell More Strategy
First, let’s talk about what to do if you have a strategy package but it’s not delivering the desired results. If you’ve got the offer, but you want to sell it more in 2023, here’s what I suggest.
Start by looking at how many of these packages you’ve sold.
Haven’t Sold Any Strategy Packages
If you’ve never sold it, get curious about why that may be. Something I often see in the market is products that are created based on what the business owner wants, not what the market wants.
The best strategy offer is in the sweet spot between your skills and experience and the problems your potential clients have. If you find you have to do an extraordinary amount of education about the existence of the problem, consider how you’re positioning the offer or if you need to simplify the offer. Look at each product element and positioning to consider what could be refined.
Also, if you get good feedback on the offer but there’s a pricing objection, you may need to adjust your pricing to put it within reach of your target market.
Finally, consider your promotion. Strategy is not a quick fix. The promotion you need to educate people about the offer and how you can help takes time. If you got frustrated and quit after sharing it three times, you need to get a promotion plan in place.
You’re Not Selling Enough
Maybe you’ve sold some strategy packages, and you’ve truly validated that people want this offer, but you want to sell MORE of them.
First, I want you to consider if you’re being realistic. If you’re selling eight strategy packages a year right now, and it’s your highest-priced offer, it can be tempting to do the math and be like, great; I just need to sell two per month or 24 per year.
Can you really deliver that many packages? Start with nailing down a realistic plan for how many strategy packages you can handle per month or year.
Next, you need to define a realistic bump in what “more” strategy packages mean based on your current marketing and promotion.
You may need to step up your promotional plan for your strategy and add something new, as your current audience may already be fatigued with the offer.
The lack of a solid promotional plan for your strategy offer is usually a big reason why you’re not selling it. You need eyeballs from new potential clients, and that may require you to do more or different types of marketing activities.
This episode is an excellent example of promotional activity. Since launching Sell the Strategy a year ago, I’ve had a plan in place to periodically focus on promotion for it. During those periods, I talk about it here on the podcast, in my emails, and on Instagram. I’m also looking at adding podcast guest interviews to get it in front of more people.
I don’t just expect people to know it exists. I talk about it in promotional sprints at different times during the year. (Speaking of which, if you want help selling the strategy, I’m booking a couple of spots for this spring.)
Shifting gears, you’ve worked with several clients on your strategy offer, so now got feedback and intelligence to help refine your offer. You know it works, so now you’ve got an opportunity to improve it.
Questions to consider in refining your package:
- Do I need to adjust or update elements of the offer?
- How can I better share the value?
- Is my positioning solid, or do I need to speak to the problem differently?
- Is my price point right? Does it need to increase or be reconsidered?
- Am I getting the right clients in the door with this offer?
Carefully assessing your strategy offer and making updates as you learn more about your clients and your process is critical. That feedback cycle enables you to improve upon what you’re doing.
You’re Not Selling Strategy, But You’re Ready To
For some of you, you’ve listened to this episode so far, and now you’re ready to sell strategy. I’ve sold you on its value, but you’re unsure where to start.
Step one for any strategy offer needs to be looking at where the strategy may be hiding in your business. When I work with my clients on this, we’re always looking for something they’re already doing that can be packaged up as a strategy offer.
Sometimes it’s something they do all the time that’s not seen as a strategy. Other times it’s something they do in their processes that clients don’t know about but is incredibly valuable.
My top recommendation is that you don’t try to rush this. You can’t force this into existence, so if it’s not immediately obvious, give it some time to percolate.
Trust me when I say this, at some point, that strategy package is going to be right there in front of you. You may be tempted to decide it’s way too simple, but the most impactful strategy offer is going to be simple.
It’s hard to sell anything complicated. You want your offer to be something people learn about and think, “it’s me, I have that problem, sign me up.”
Notice I mentioned the problem? You need to be solving a real problem that your target client has. It may not be something they’re lying in bed thinking about, but they need to have a real need, or you’re going to struggle to sell to them.
As part of nailing down a strategy offer, you need to look at your potential clients, the current market, your competition, and more. Using myself as an example, I did a lot of research for Sell the Strategy to ensure it was something that was actually needed and solve a tangible set of problems. (Yes, I know it’s meta that my strategy offer is to help people create their strategy offers.)
Once you have the product nailed down, you’ll want to focus on the positioning. Don’t skip this step. You need to be able to identify where you fit in the market and why you’re different, or you’re going to find yourself struggling with your promotion.
Speaking of promotion, don’t fall into the trap of magically thinking that if you create it, they will come. As I’ve shared multiple times in this interview, promotion is as critical as how you package and position the offer. If you don’t have the right promotional plan, or the willingness to actually get it out there, your strategy package will languish on your website.
Finally, consider your pricing. It’s okay to start with an intro price and raise it over time as you refine your strategy offer.
Should I Be Selling Strategy?
Now that I’ve got you all excited about selling strategy in 2023, you are thinking about if this will really work for you.
I don’t do cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all advice, but the answer is likely yes. The majority of service business owners are already doing strategy work, so it’s time to get paid for it. I’ve worked with creatives, consultants, and coaches on their strategy offers. And those clients have worked both with other online business owners and corporate clients.
The possibilities are endless, but you need to start selling strategy.
And with that, if you need help, I’m booking Sell the Strategy clients for Spring 2023. I have a couple of spots, and this package will get my brain on your strategy offer.
If you have a strategy offer, I can help you refine it and build your promotional plan. Last year I worked with an organization that had their offer but needed help with the positioning and their pricing/revenue plan. In another case, an agency owner had sold this package for years and needed help revamping it and raising the price.
If you don’t have a strategy offer, I can help you from scratch to nail down the product, positioning, price, and promotion.