Don't Sell Intangible Services...Sell Tangible Programs

[editor's note: This originally appeared in Robert's fine More Clients newsletter, which I've been reading for many years. See link at bottom--Shel Horowitz]

Imagine walking into a car dealership looking for a new car. As usual, a bunch of salespeople are standing around and one of them comes up to you and asks if they can help you.

You say you're looking for a new car.

And they respond as follows: "What we sell here is transportation. We provide an enclosed metal vehicle which is powered by an internal combustion engine. This technology was developed in the early 1900's and now has advanced considerably. How much transportation are you looking at getting today?

You: Well, I'm just looking for a car. Can I take a look at some?

Salesperson: First we'll need to talk to you about all your needs, the specifications for ideal transportation and then put together a proposal that would meet your needs. We'll have that within a week and then help you choose the best transportation options.

You: Er... let me think about it. (to self: get me outta here!)

I know this is ridiculous. You'd never sell cars like that. But if you really think about it, this is very much how professional services are are marketed and sold.

What was missing in our example was an actual, tangible car that you could see and touch and test drive.

And what's missing in marketing and selling services is something tangible, measurable, and even test drive-able.

One of the things you should strive to do in marketing and selling your services is to make your services more tangible. When they are tangible you'll tend to see the following results:

1. Clients and customers will make decisions more quickly. They will know what they are getting, and it will be less confusing to them. You can more easily demonstrate what they'll get.

2. You will sell more of whatever service you are offering. A tangible service usually sells faster because it feels simpler. You'll also increase your word-of-mouth.

3. You will save a lot of time because you don't have to keep re- inventing the wheel. Sure, you can still customize services (as you can a car) but there is always a base package.

4. You can sell at higher prices in many cases. A tangible services is seen as a more valuable service. In addition, you can get longer commitments from clients to work with you.

5. Your overall cash flow and success will increase. Because you are packaging and offering high-end services, your business will become more stable and predictable.

I'm sure that this is exactly what you want in your business. But how do you go about making it happen? Here are the basic steps:

1. Commit to packaging at least one of your services. Work at developing that package or program. Who are the ideal clients, what are the main outcomes, what is the structure and process and price? This could be anything from a 2-day workshop to a one-year program, or anything in-between. What will give your clients the results they are looking for?

2. Write a detailed description or sales letter for that program. Tell your prospects exactly what this program is, why they need it, what they get, and how it works. When you go through the process of writing about your program, your focus, clarity and excitement about the program will increase.

3. Develop a step-by-step marketing plan to get the word out about this program. This can include everything from networking and speaking, to PR and publishing. But remember, when you have a specific program to promote, your marketing is both easier and more effective. You can launch focused marketing campaigns to sell that particular program.

Yes, all of this takes some time and serious effort.

What follows next is implementing some of the zillion marketing ideas I've presented in this eZine for years. But those ideas are useless if you don't have something valuable and tangible to sell.

What program or package of services will you design, develop and market? When will you start? How about NOW!

The More Clients Bottom Line: If you think you're in the business of selling coaching or consulting or financial planning etc., it's like being in the transportation business. That's not a business. It's not real or tangible to your clients. Be in the business of offering a particular package of services or a program that is designed to produced a measurable outcome.

What intangible service will you package into a tangible program?

By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert's web site at for additional marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional service businesses. All rights reserved. Used with permission

SecurityMetrics for PCI Compliance, QSA, IDS, Penetration Testing, Forensics, and Vulnerability Assessment


Many of the 1000+ articles on Frugal Fun and Frugal Marketing have been gathered into magazines. If you'd like to read more great content on these topics, please click on the name of the magazine you'd like to visit.

Ethics Articles - Down to Business Magazine - Frugal & Fashionable Living Magazine
Global Travel Review - Global Arts Review - Peace & Politics Magazine
Frugal Marketing Tips - Frugal Fun Tips - Principled Profit
Why The Business Ethics Pledge Campaign
Clean and Green Marketing

Our Privacy Policy

Click here to order Shel's books on cost-effective and ethical marketing

This site is brought to you by Shel Horowitz,
Director of Accurate Writing & More--bringing you marketing,
writing, and career assistance since 1981.
(413) 586-2388

For information on reprinting articles from this site, click here.

You're also invited to visit our sister sites:
(ethical, cooperative, and profitable business success)
(How to have more fun and spend a lot less money)
(marketing, writing, and career services)

Social networking icons by

Disclosures of Material Connections:

Site copyright © 2000-2011 by Shel Horowitz