EP 03

EP 3

Making Technology Services Approachable With Productized Services

Have you ever been on a website that offers technical services you need, and all you find are flashy case studies, as well as pages that list all these great benefits you’ll get from working with them? Everything looks great until you start looking for pricing. It’s nowhere to be found. All you see is a big “contact us” button, or "schedule a demo". Odds are, things stop right there. You’ll have to get on the phone with a salesperson who is driving to close the sale, which is never fun.

We’ve been working to challenge this process, and give someone browsing our site all the information they need before they get in touch through the use of productized services. Today we'll be chatting today with Mitch Herrema (Operations), Ashley Jolman (our delivery lead), and Mike Bodell to dig into this topic and understand some of the benefits we’re seeing through the use of productized services.

Episode Links
Hosted By
Ashley Jolman, CSM
Mike Bodell
Mitch Herrema
Produced By
Mitch Herrema
Music By
Eric Veeneman

Transcript

Ashley – “Or anytime you don’t have background knowledge in the service you're seeking like I feel that way when I have to go get my car fixed, like they could tell me anything. And I don't knowhow my car works, so I'm at their mercy and I'm probably going to have to say yes if I want my outcome, which is getting my car fixed. So, it can be that way with tax services as well As for people who don't have a background in this area or aren't working with somebody on their behalf, who is also an expert in this area.”

*Intro music*

Mitch – “Have you ever been on a website that offers technical services you need and all you find are flashy case studies and pages that list all the great benefits you'll get from working with them? Everything looks great until you start looking for pricing. It's nowhere to be found. All you see is a big contact us button. Odds are things stop right there and you'll have to get on the phone with the salesperson whois driven to close the sale, and that's never fun. We've been working to challenge this process and give someone browsing our site all the information they need before they get in touch. We do this through the use of productize services. Today I'll be chatting with Ashley Jolman who is our delivery lead as well as Mike Bodell, to dig into this topic and understand some of the benefits we're seeing through the use of productize services.”

*Intro ends*

Mitch – “Ashley, you ready?”

Ashley – “Sure.”

Mitch – “Alright, so this is Ashley and I’s first time being on here. My name is Mitch by the way. We have Mike to hold down the fort. He's been on a couple episodes before, so he's going to be helping us out.”

Ashley – “Hey, everyone.”

Mike – “Don't sell yourself short Mitch. You have been on all of our intros.”

Mitch – “Yeah, I've been behind the scenes in a lot of these things. Not as much in front of the camera, but. Here we go –“

Ashley – “And he's still not in front of the camera.”

Mitch – “I don't know we’re live- “

Ashley – “In front of the microphone?”

Mitch – “In front of the microphone, yeah. Anyway, we are talking today about making tech services a little bit more approachable. So just a general outline of this conversation.We're going to talk about why this topic. Where is it coming from? And then we're going to propose kind of a solution to this situation and go into some different benefits that we see because of that, and then at the end go a little bit into. How we implement this at bulb? So, Mike, do you want to kind of set the stage of? This topic for us.”

Mike – “Sure, so I think a lot of the why we talked about something like this is because of the level of intimidation that exists in getting involved in an IT project or a digital transformation project in your organization. There may be skills that you don't feel like you have internally. You don't have the knowledge you need to reach out to an outside firm. Maybe for some help, or maybe you're looking to hire people and evaluate their skillsets and their knowledge. But ultimately, how do you make these types of services approachable and less intimidating for people?So, when we think about this, we're thinking about scenarios where. I found a digital workplace transformation company, but I went on their website and they want me to contact the salesperson and that just right away makes you, it smacks us with some level of commitment that you don't know, right? So, you have a fear of that unknown.”

Mitch – “Or if you have ever been interested in a product, an online, some kind of product that you can. Subscribe to, but there's no pricing anywhere. You have to contact the sales Rep to schedule a demo, and it's just super gray as to what you're really signing up for and what kind of trap you're going to be.”

Ashley – “Or anytime you don't have background knowledge in the service you're seeking, like I feel that way when I have to go get my car fixed, like they could tell me anything. And I don't knowhow my car works, so I'm at their mercy and I'm probably going to have to say yes if I want my outcome, which is getting my car fixed so it can be that way with tech services as well for people who don't have a background in this area, aren't working with somebody on their behalf who is also an expert in this area.”

Mike – “So it sounds like it's all about providing as much information about the services as possible to help someone self-assess and feel comfortable.”

Mitch – “Yeah, including price if it makes sense.”

Ashley – “A breakdown of, of what to expect and what they can plan on receiving.”

Mitch – “Yeah, and even if it's not. A direct this is what it's going to cost you kind of deal. You could even,I've even seen one shop in town, Atomic Object, put this graph on their website. I don't know if it's still there honestly, but it's like a graph that shows for this type of project you might spend somewhere between this range of money. And I thought that was super helpful just to give you, someone, an idea if they're going to approach this company for work, what could they maybe count on as a ballpark figure for a project like that?”

Ashley – “Yeah, I think-“

Mike – “Yeah, sorry Ashley, I think the other thing I was going to add to that is in today's world, everybody has a desire. There's that adrenaline rush or that dopamine rush that you get when you get to click something to purchase it, and that's one of the things that we seek to do is to provide somebody with enough information. To understand it, feel good about it and then feel safe enough to click that.”

Mitch – “Yeah, they know what they are getting into.”

Mike – “In order to take the nextstep right, and that's what people expect today, right? They’re on their mobile device? Or they're sitting on their laptop? And if they want to access these types of services, why not make it as easy as possible? As easy as a click away?”

Mitch – “Yeah, that speaks to the click-to-buy culture that exists nowadays where everything is just right at your fingertips.I can order anything on Amazon and Ashley just ordered something yesterday, a headset for, for calls and it showed up literally today. They had overnight shipping free returns. Click to access. Like it's, it's part of culture nowadays.”

Ashely – “Yeah, we need it now.”

Mike – “So, what does it take to make these types of services such that you can click to purchase them and it actually works?”

Mitch – “Yeah. Yeah, so what we're suggesting as a solution to this is productize services. So, establishing a set amount of worker outcomes or just a set deliverable for a specific price, so if you build websites, for example, I'll build you a 10-page website for this amount of money, something that someone can go in and self-assess and decide if they want to purchase or not.”

Mike – “So when it comes to productize services, let's talk about some of the customer benefits that they would get, right? So, if these things are clearly defined and understandable for them, these good things like a predictable outcome. A specific or set price rate that they can count on.”

Mitch – “They can literally see the price on the website for what they would pay, right? There is no question.”

Mike – “Yeah, and if they can clearly understand the outcome and align the value of that outcome to that price right, it becomes a no brainer, right? So that's a benefit. It’s a known thing, these things are also repeatable, which means we've implemented a process behind them, so we've done it several times in the past and we're basically perfecting that process. So, there's a process there.”

Mitch – “Which hopefully you can look at like a case study on someone's website and see that they've done this specific thing that you're interested in and see that.”

Ashely – “Yeah and it’s been successful.”

Mitch – “Yeah, they can walk me through this same process, and I can perceive that it'll be beneficial to me.”

Mike – “Sure. And what about the sales cycle for the customer? Obviously, this is something that's probably a little bit shorter, quicker to get through. It really only maybe consists of a discussion to figure out. Whether or not we're a good fit for each other, whether or not the customer is a good fit for us and that we’re good for them and confirm what these things are that they came to understand right in the product or service.”

Mitch – “We’ll touch a little bit more on the sales cycle later, but that definitely is a benefit to the customer.”

Mike – “So, let's talk about the benefits that we get as a professional firm, right? A technology firm from this type of sales process.”

Mitch – “Yeah, one is definitely.When we hire someone, we can look at their abilities or the areas that we might want to train them in and see how they fit into some of these offerings. So, if we get these services down to a science more or less, we can ramp someone up or give them a playbook to these. Services and it's way easier to train them as opposed to something that's totally custom, totally Greenfield, something that doesn't have any sort of framework around it.”

Ashley – “Yeah, and it gives us and the customer the benefit of a repeatable, predictable both process and outcome.”

Mike – “Yeah so, from a delivery standpoint, knowing. What are all of the boxes that need to get checked right as we go through the process, making sure that we hit those marks deliver on the outcome is-“

Ashely – “And client X will receive the same high value deliverables that we delivered to client Y and they'll receive the similar outcome.”

Mike – “And by the way, we get better and more efficient at it every time, right? We perfected the process.”

Ashley – “Our team knows what to expect.”

Mike – “Yep, and there's no real secrets there like we, our effective rate may go up overtime as we get better and better at this stuff and if we spend less time on these projects. What client will tell you that they want you to take longer on something, right?They want it to happen as quick as possible and as efficient as possible and everyone benefits there.”

Mike – “So Mitch, I know you said we're going to talk about it later, but I'm going to hit it again. The easy sales cycle. So, for us, this means we can dive right into sales cycle now, right? This means I don't necessarily have to have a sales team to effectively handle these leads, right? They can come right to the doers, the people who are doing the hands work and have the knowledge. And so, like we're able to remove that element of cost from our business and bring the customers directly to us and get to know them and, and all that kind of stuff so.”

Mitch – “Right.”

Mike – “It definitely makes the sales cycle better anyway.”

Mitch – “Yeah, it's led to a system that's designed for a non-salesman like none of us are, are the type to try to sell your used car right? No one likes when a salesman, like you can tell when someone's on commission and they're pushing for the sale and they just want to close it.”

Ashley – “Is it because like the productized service-services model runs the presales cycle?”

Mitch – “Right, right.”

Ashley – “Because it's giving the information to the client on our website, we're not trying to sell something that we're not going to deliver, and we also want the client to be able to look on our website before any of us are spending time on this and self-assess if this is a good fit for them. If the value of the deliverables from that project is something that works for the organization, something they're trying to receive.”

Mitch – “We're not trying to talk them into something they don't think they need.”

Ashely – “Yeah, so then once they're seeing productize services on any website, the client should have a good idea of if they're a good fit before even reaching out, so there's a lot of that pre work that's already accomplished. Before anyone spending time on it.”

Mitch – “Yep.”

Mike – “Yeah. And I think you know you talked about kind of that experience with dealing with like pushy salesman and things like that. From my own experience, like one of the drawbacks to having a sales team involved is they have a tendency to push for bigger sales, bigger projects more than what the customer necessarily needs or something-”

Mitch – “That we can do.”

Ashley – “Yeah!”

Mike – “-that, doesn't even align with the technology that we're trying to like platform it on, and I can't tell you how many projects I've been involved with where that type of thing was sold, and then the doers were left holding the bag for a project that was either over budget or you know took longer than it should have taken. Or ultimately get they got to the end of it and figured out that to this was the wrong platform. We should have done something completely different and so in this way this connects our customers directly with us, right? The problem solvers. And so, we’ll straight up tell them if something is not a fit or doesn't make sense in that, and we're eager to do that. It protects everyone in that situation.”

Ashley – “Yeah, I would say we seek at the beginning to be aligned on project outcomes. You know, before we even sign the paperwork.”

Mike – “So what are some of the things that we, that we should do as part of this process to help people navigate the sales process with us? More effectively or more comfortably, more safely, what are the things that we can produce? To help.

Mitch – “Yeah. Well, one thing that can definitely be helpful, is if someone goes poking around on our website wondering if we're capable of what we say we are is, you know they might find some case studies that show maybe some relevant work that we've done. But then also blogs and videos. We've got now podcast that builds our credibility as to establishing that we can do the things that we are attempting to sell.”

Mike – “So, once they get past that point, what's the next step? Like, let's say they click the, like I'm ready togo. I want to buy it, they click it.”

Mitch – “Yeah, so generally it ends up being like a 30-minute phone call conversation just to, to learn a little bit more about each other. Identify if it's a good fit, and when we say that it means in both regards if they, if we're a good fit for them. If we feel like, if they feel like we can help them as well as if they’re the right client for us. We get that opportunity to evaluate during that conversation.”

Mike – “It's very no pressure thing, right? It really is. Let's get to know each other. What are the challenges you're dealing with? Where would you like to go? And let's talk about what things we know that would be able to help with that.”

Mitch – “Right, and if they have a specific question about something, like we said, it's not just the salesman on the phone, it's likely someone that knows the tech. So, if they have a specific question about the technology odds are we’ll be able to answer right there just to maybe alleviate any concern or, or anything in that regard.”

Mike – “Yep, and because it's the sales cycle is significantly less invested for us, we're less invested in hearing a yes. For example, on that call. A no is OK, a no is not a no forever.They may come back after they get to know us, right? They may come back for a different need or, or maybe find out that they need us after all in the future.But we have not invested so much in the sales cycle that we feel you know, they feel obligation or we feel obligation for anything. That's why it's no pressure. So, let's talk a little bit now about the steps to creating a productized service.”

Mitch – “Yeah, so if you're listening, even if you're not a tech company, right? We're talking about tech services, but this can kind of happen across the board. Think through your process that you would normally take a client through and figure out if there's a part of it that you could

chunk up and identify separately outside of that custom engagement, right? So, if, if you often do like a discovery phase, maybe you can lay that out on your website and identify a couple different options for how someone might engage in discovery phase, and if you feel comfortable enough to put a price on those things.”

Ashely – “So, you're talking about breaking down larger project into a smaller piece, probably the beginning piece and then offering that as your productized services so, bite sized pieces of a project that would potentially lead to the greater project, but it's not signing up for that larger scale projects from the get-go.”

Mike – “So one example might be something like in our modern workplace world, somebody has an Excel spreadsheet they'd like to turn it into a power app. How do I do that, right? What are the steps to evaluating that? That would be a very simple and small contained thing that we could do. We could take a look at that spreadsheet, we could understand the outcomes that they have or that they desire and then ultimately build an estimate and a road map for how that can be converted into a power app, and that would be a very small thing, not intimidating. Somebody you know might be willing to even upload their spreadsheet and click to purchase that for a small sum, right?”

Mitch – “Sure, so this can sometimes expand outside of just the first phase to right? Like it doesn't always have to be this discovery phase like, like if you sell video services, could you sell a, 30-minute interview session for a fixed price where you deliver a finished video for a fixed price after having come in for 30 minutes to record? Or you know, if you build buildings could you sell an architecture drawing that is up to X amount of square feet? And you feel comfortable committing to that, right? Like, I'm kind of spit balling here, but thinking along those lines is, is, is what we're talking about.”

Ashley – “Yeah, it's really breaking down any, any industry to a bite sized portion or something that's approachable to the masses to people, mainly outside of your industry.”

Mike – “Cool, those are some good examples, so let's talk about us and some of the stuff, the services that we offer and how we define our services.”

Mitch – “Yeah, I think a good thing to talk about in this regard is talking about some of the things that we like to put on the page for an entry level service. Something that we want to always make sure that we answer, or if there's any frequently asked questions that we get. What are some of those things that we want to talk about?”

Ashley – “So, the things for each of our productized services on our website that we want to make sure we cover?Our outcomes, we list why outcomes are going to be achieved, what activities were going to do to reach those outcomes? So basically, what does the project to look like? What are the steps that we're going to take?”

Mike – “So, what are some concrete examples of some of those activities? Just to give people-“

Ashley – “Certain types of meetings, certain types of exercises we might conduct.”

Mitch – “Workshops.”

Ashley – “Yep, work we like workshops, interviews.”

Mitch – “We often might do leadership goal interviews. So, we meet with leadership to identify you, know some of those outcomes that they want to achieve in a longer term, especially for a road map project.”

Ashley – “Sure, or if we’re meeting, or if we’re doing an intranet or communication type project will need to interview the communications team.”

Mike – “So the outcomes as an example are, the value that our customer or client might get out of one of these engagements. The activities are the recognized, tangible value that we're pouring into it.”

Mitch – “Yep.”

Ashley – “Mhm, our process.”

Mike – “So that, that gives them kind of that comfortability level of like this is actually what's going to happen for this amount of money, right?”

Ashley – “The next thing we cover on our website is what technologies, we use, this one is important because a client, a potential client might see that that technology works or doesn't work within their current ecosystem.”

Mike – “Yeah, so just to make everybody aware, we're a fairly pretty much a Microsoft Shop. A lot of the work that we're doing lately is all Microsoft 365, so in the cloud we do a lot of things with SharePoint, Power platform, and the like.”

Mitch – “So, odds are you might have an existing subscription you guys are using Outlook, PowerPoint, Word, all that. Oftentimes we help expand the use of that to the other tools that you get in that subscription.”

Mike – “Exactly, so then the next thing that we cover in our entry services on our website are what are the typical next steps, so letting them know what happens after this engagement is done. So, what they can expect a lot of our entry services are discovery like, so we're helping the customer define a road map of where they need to go. In this new digital world, or we’re building some form of pilot for them right, and so often after that type of engagement, there is a what's next? Do I build the full app? Do I take the first step on that road map, right? So, what's next for each of those things? And then the last thing that we like to talk about is, you can talk about two different ways, that's what are the bad things that might happen if you don't do this, and you just do what you're doing and what are the good things that might happen if you do this right?”

Mitch – “So, another thing thatI'll note is that we did, we revamped our proposals in a similar way. We wanted to answer all these questions in our proposals as well. So instead of getting caught up in all of the assumptions and all the legal jargon which there is still a little bit of, but it's just less now. We make sure that we are answering all these questions of what outcomes, what activities, what technology are we going to use and then once this is done, what are the next steps? So, if this proposal has to go through a process to get approved everyone that touches that thing has access to know, hey what might come next.”

Mike – “And so I'll speak to the difference in our proposals now versus maybe what we had in the past. That piece we talked about earlier about evaluating fit right? Are they a good fit for us or we have good fit for them? If in any way we're not aligned. Right, therein lies the need for legal jargon, right? The, the our ability to have less of that in our proposals and more alignment to these high level what are the outcomes, activities, technology, etc. Truly lies in that ability to evaluate fit. And if there's not a fit, we don't want to do it.”

Mitch – “Right, yeah, our proposals do not serve the purpose of convincing anyone of anything.”

Mike – “Right.”

Mitch – “As well.”

Mike – “Yeah.”

Mitch – “The last thing I wanted to know is that as much as we said the whole contact us option is a little bit scary. We do still have that in some places on our site, so and this is less about trying to be accommodating, saying oh, we can do anything for anyone. And it's more about, there's a level of risk that we can't deliver a price on without a conversation first, so a lot of these road map projects you'll see up to 500 employees, right? We have a general idea about what an organization looks like, up to that amount of employees, but over that, there's a lot of different ways that organizations can look and. It would be a little bit risky on our part to guarantee a price.”

Ashley – “There is too much we don’t know.”

Mike – “Well and on top of that, if you did, just if you did the raw math on our pricing levels for that number of employees and that organization walks in our door that had 50,000 employees and wanted us to do a project that math just simply isn't going to work out, right?

Mitch – “Right, yeah.”

Ashley – “Yeah. Alright, so overall productized services make services of any kind more approachable to potential customers, potential clients, and we believe there's a lot of benefits in creating these and putting them on your website to both your customers and to yourself as a business.”

Mitch – “Yeah, if you're a potential customer out there, we wanted to share this with you just so that you have some insight as to why our website is the way it is, why we're doing what we're doing, and we hope it's beneficial.”

Mike – “We do. It's all a bit of a, of an experiment over the last year or so, and it's very interesting to watch and see how it takes shape.”

Mitch – “Yeah cool, so thanks guys.”

Ashley – “Yeah thanks for listening.”

Mitch – “See you later.”

Ashley – “Bye.”

*Outro music starts*

Mitch – “Thanks for joining us today. If you haven't already, subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app that way, you'll always be up to date on the most recent episodes. This podcast is hosted by the team members of Bulb Digital. Each episode is produced by me, Mitch Herrema. Special thanks to Eric Veeneman for our music tracks. If you have any questions for us, had to make otherssuccessful.com and you can get in touch with us there, you'll also find a lot of insightful blogs and videos to help you modernize your workplace. Thanks again, for listening. We'll see you next time.”

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