When you run a B2B service business, you are more limited in the ways you can use leverage to increase your income. Unlike B2C product or retail businesses, you can’t manufacture more products or open more stores. Often our income is limited by our ability to deliver our service due to limits of time or resources. I think they are three ways that B2B service businesses can leverage for higher income.
One way to increase your income is to charge more for your services. This is only possible when you have a greater impact and clients see your solution as more valuable. You can include more aspects in your service that makes it more valuable to clients. When I started including customized slide makeovers of the client’s own slides, it made my workshops more valuable than when I just showed generic examples. You can offer deeper insights that provide more value to a business. My biennial surveys of what audiences think of PowerPoint presentations gives my sessions more depth of insight, and are therefore more valuable.
In your own business, listen to what your clients say. If they use phrases such as, “Could you show us how to …”, that is an opportunity to add another valuable aspect to your service. If you hear that one specific part of your offering was the reason they chose you over your competitors, explore how to go deeper in that area to offer even more value.
A second way to increase your income is to have others deliver your service and you make money when they are providing your solution to clients. You could hire staff and train them to deliver your service. You can then offer to help more clients since you can send someone in your place. You can hire full time staff or you can hire contractors who work only when you need them to.
When you go this route, you run a number of risks. First is that you may end up training your future competition. Once someone learns all of your key knowledge and processes, there is little to stop them from offering a version of your service directly to clients and cutting you out of the equation. Second, you may end up becoming a full-time salesperson in order to keep the staff busy. You might hire sales staff as well, but that leads to the third possible risk. You may end up becoming a manager of others, and not delivering your service at all. If you really love serving clients directly, you may end up less satisfied in the end. Consider these possible risks when deciding if bringing staff on is the best choice for you.
You could also leverage through people by licensing your service to your clients and having them deliver the service internally. This works well when your client has many individual staff who could benefit from your service and they have people who can become qualified to deliver your service. Setting up licensing agreements should include the advice of a lawyer and other experts in licensing. They can draft contracts that protect your rights and ensure you get fairly compensated without risking your intellectual property.
More delivery vehicles
The third way to leverage your expertise for higher income is to add new ways of delivering your service to clients. These ways don’t involve you having to personally do the delivery and these options have expanded dramatically in the last decade. You can create videos, books, e-books, e-courses, self-study programs, and many other ways of delivering your expertise to clients that they access on their own. Many options exist for hosting or delivering these items without you having to be involved at all. You just receive a payment every month.
Any of these methods of delivering your service will involve an up-front investment of time to develop the item. I suggest you learn how to effectively create the different items in advance of investing the time to create them. You don’t want to waste the time you spend. Also, make sure you have a way to let potential purchasers know about your different options for delivery. Marketing these books and other items needs to be planned and executed well in order to see significant income from them. Don’t forget to consider including some of these products in your proposals to clients, which will increase the income from each engagement as well.
What I have chosen to do
My choices for leveraging my expertise fall into the categories of more impact and more delivery vehicles. I made a deliberate choice years ago to not pursue leveraging through more people because I don’t enjoy managing staff (I tried it in my first full-time job and found it wasn’t what I enjoyed). I also saw someone bring on staff in a B2B service business and they had to spend most of their time selling and managing, instead of delivering the service, which is what they were best suited to do.
For more impact, I am always working on ways to deliver more value to my clients through innovative techniques, new ideas, and more impactful ways to deliver presentations involving data. I added customized slide makeovers, how-to instructions, resource lists, and other items that my clients find valuable. These allowed me to charge more for my workshops.
I started leveraging through more vehicles many years ago and have authored eight books, four Kindle e-books, videos, and other products. Not all of them have been successful, in fact, many have not worked at all. I have learned that most of my product sales will come as part of a workshop as I include books for the participants. In my business, I am identified mostly with the software program PowerPoint. In today’s world, few people are willing to pay for advice on any common software, as they believe that it should be freely available on the Internet. With so many YouTube and other resources available, it makes it hard for people to justify purchasing any resource related to software. So I position my resources in a way that does not emphasize the software, but the impact of the presentation. It helps, but it is still a tough sale. That is why I gave the advice above about effective marketing of any item you create. It is critical to the success of it, and to increasing your income.
How do you leverage your expertise to increase your income? If you are looking for ways to leverage, keep the above thoughts in mind. If you have learned what works & doesn’t work in your business, share your thoughts in the comments below.