Sell the Strategy: Updates Based on What I Learned from Seven Clients
You’re probably already doing strategy work in your business, but you’re not getting paid for it. Or you’ve got strategy offers and you feel like they’re not quite right or you’re struggling to sell them. No matter what’s going on with selling strategy in your business, I’ve got you.
In this episode, I’m diving into everything I’ve learned from my Sell the Strategy offer and what you need to consider if you want to start selling strategy.
Earlier this year, I introduced Sell the Strategy to all of you, which is a simple, proven method to put strategy first in your offer suite.
While it’s something I’d been doing with clients for literal years, formalizing it and then sharing it with all of you was met with so much positive feedback.
Honestly, It’s one of my best business decisions of this year, and in an episode this Spring, I promised I’d share more about how it was going.
What is Sell the Strategy? The Recap.
If you’re not up to speed on Sell the Strategy, it’s about making strategy the core of your offering in order to address some of the biggest challenges that service business face.
For starters, so many of us give away strategy for free. We undervalue it, our clients don’t pay for it, and then we’re annoyed by the whole thing. Plus, when we’re not focusing on strategy, we fall into the role of “doer” doing what our clients view as transactional work. (And that’s why you may find your clients hiring other “experts” for things you literally can do for them.)
And finally, when you lead with strategy in your offering, you’re working with clients who VALUE strategy. No more writing copy based on a single interview, or designing with zero context. You can deliver outstanding work as you’re working with people who get that strategy makes the final product much more effective.
At its heart, it’s about positioning you and the work you do as transformational, not tactical or transactional work. That way you get paid for your expertise, and you work with clients who value that expertise.
For me, making this shift changed everything. The quality of clients I worked with improved and my strategic thinking was valued, and more importantly, respected. (Plus I stopped wasting time giving strategy away for free.)
Sell the Strategy includes four key elements:
- Product: What’s your offer? Who is it for? Is it needed in the market?
- Position: What makes this different? Why should people work with you?
- Price: What’s your pricing strategy? Where does this fit in the market? Is your target market willing to pay for this? What’s your intro price and target price?
- Promotion: How will you get known as an expert on this topic? How will you promote it and get it in front of your potential clients?
Since formalizing the Sell the Strategy process, and turning it into an intensive this Spring, I worked with seven clients. Based on those experiences, and my own experience selling a strategy offer about strategy (meta, I know!), I have some additional insights on those four elements that I want to share with everyone.
Product: What’s the Best Strategy Offer?
Before I did the work to package Sell the Strategy, it was something that would happen pretty much in every BS-Free Intensive. People would come to me with the same challenges around feeling like their income was capped, wanting different clients, or generally being worn out by their service offerings.
In those cases, typically the right strategy offer would be something they’re already doing, but it was hidden within their existing services. The strategy was baked in and clients didn’t know they were getting it in the creative or consulting work being done.
This was definitely the case for several of the clients in the Sell the Strategy Intensive this spring. They had something they were already doing, but it needed to be packaged into a separate, specific offer.
For those clients, shifting to selling strategy was a much simpler shift, as they already were doing it. The gap between the work they were doing and the work they wanted to be doing was relatively small, so they were able to get their offers out into the world that much faster.
In one case, one of the clients was able to get her offer out into the world within a couple of weeks and quickly start selling it.
For other clients, they had an idea of the strategy offer they wanted to create, but it was a newer addition to their business. Maybe they were focusing on a new type of client, or it was a bit of a departure from what they’ve been doing to date.
I hesitate to say they were starting from scratch as they had skills, experience, and other elements that their offer was being built on. It just meant that they had a bit of work to do when pulling together their offer and what they needed to deliver upon it.
Position: Market Need and Overlooked Expertise
So much of what it takes to sell strategy comes down to being able to find the right place in the market and positioning yourself as a solution to an actual problem they’re having.
Having sold different strategy packages over the years, the most successful ones that I’ve created filled a gap in the market, and a problem that my clients were having. (Even if they needed some education on that challenge and how it was impacting them.)
Anyone can create a strategy offer, but you need to have something people want AND something that your potential clients are going to trust you to deliver.
As service providers, we can easily fall into the trap of being what my friend Michelle Mazur calls “an overlooked expert”. We’re experienced professionals, but not enough people truly get what we can do for them.
For the majority of the people I’ve worked with, this definitely has been the case. While a couple had very well-established platforms as experts, the rest were not known for the brilliant work they do.
Being able to articulate why you and how you do things is essential to people trusting you enough to work with you.
And if you’re an overlooked expert, getting traction with your offer may take a little longer as you’re not just going to launch your offer and magically have people buy it. It’s going to take work for people to get to know you in a new way and to reach new potential clients. This is where promotion comes in.
Promotion: You Need Eyeballs
Raise your hand if you’ve ever created an offer and struggled to find clients to buy it! (And yes I’m raising my hand.)
In a world that’s full of magical thinking and “it’s so easy” messaging, we can feel frustrated by our strategy offering not getting traction quickly.
Like anything, this is going to take time. Focusing on selling strategy is not a quick fix, but future you will be thankful you actually invested that time and energy.
Listen, I know promotion work from guesting on podcasts to social media to SEO takes work, but unless you already have an audience, you need to find ways to get eyeballs on your offer.
The good news is you don’t need hundreds of clients per year for your strategy offer, you need a handful per month or quarter, so you can be successful with a small audience. But the truth is you still need to be talking about your offer and get known for your area of expertise.
Case in point. The reason I was able to sell seven Sell the Strategy Intensives within two months after launching is I have a platform. I’ve been podcasting for over eight years and have a solid email list and presence on Instagram.
It’s not going to take you eight years to promote your offer, but it is going to require a concerted, ongoing effort. Telling you anything else would be complete bullshit.
Pricing: Time to Value Matters
Finally, we need to talk about pricing strategy work, as it can be seriously tricky as there are a lot of factors that go into pricing it.
With my intensive clients, my focus was always on figuring out a price point that would be comfortable to start off selling at. If you’re shaky on the price, you’re going to lack confidence selling it.
Usually, that price point is uncomfortable for people particularly if they’re introducing something that’s a bit new for them, and they need to get out of the overlooked expert zone.
A key part of the pricing strategy I use for Sell the Strategy is something called Time to Value. Unlike the pricing experts of social media who implore you to jack up the price, I carefully consider your pricing from the perspective of your client.
My goal is always to get you paid, and to ensure it’s something you can actually sell. That’s where Time to Value comes in.
Time to Value is a concept from the Software as a Service (SaaS) market, which Insightly defines as “a measurement of the time it takes from when your customer purchases a product/service to when they start deriving value.”
It’s an important consideration as the faster someone can derive value, the higher the perceived value. In the software industry, time to value is seen as a key metric that reinforces customer experience, and when applied to a strategy offer it can help us make pricing decisions.
Let me give you an example. For Sell the Strategy, I’ve priced the offer at $2500 knowing that most of my clients would see value as soon as they booked one to two clients. For some clients, that happens nearly immediately, and they’d likely pay more for the service knowing that they have the audience to get a return. For other clients, it may take months for them to get value as they’re starting fresh and need to do the work of positioning and promotion.
As a result, I split the difference with my price so it would work for both groups. That said, I will be raising the price in the near future, as I’ve seen firsthand how quickly clients get time to value. (So if you’re interested in Sell the Strategy, I recommend you consider booking before the price goes up.)
Selling Strategy: Not a Quick Fix, But So Worth It
When I launched the Sell the Strategy Intensive, I was pretty confident it was a solid idea, and months later, I’m so glad I did. This work has been fun for me to do, and I’m loving seeing the cool things my clients are coming up with.
From marketing strategy to retail sales strategy to building a life-first business and having a contingency plan, my clients are packaging and selling strategy in creative, and more importantly innovative ways.
Strategy work is never fast or easy, so if you’re looking for a quick fix, this likely isn’t it. But like I said earlier, with the right strategy offer, you’ll have something to build your expertise on, and sell for years to come.
And that’s why I’m bringing Sell the Strategy into this year’s BS-Free Service Business and Agency Masterminds in early 2023. If you want to focus on Sell the Strategy, you can work with me in the Intensive this Fall, or consider joining one of our masterminds.