If you’re selling yoghurt, you can give away samples in supermarket aisles. If you own a gym or yoga studio, you can sell introductory passes for new people to try you out.

But what about if you’re a consultant who does bespoke projects? What if these projects are typically priced between $10,000 and $100,000? What about if you can’t mass produce something custom? Surely introductory offers don’t apply?

Think again.

For many of my professional services clients – including management consultants, communications strategists, business lawyers – a lot of time is wasted on business development. Meetings, phone calls, proposals. The back-and-forth between prospective clients and professional services owners can be protracted and energy-draining.

Worse, when it comes to pricing a proposal, even after taking a briefing, the consultant is still in the dark about the true scope of work. So they have two choices: either they invest considerably more unpaid time to better understand the extent of the problem that they’re seeking to solve so that they can quote more accurately. Or they take a punt and pick a price, guesstimating the scope of the problem and hoping that they haven’t done themselves a massive disservice by underquoting.

Enter: the introductory offer

The introductory offer for professional services businesses isn’t called an introductory offer; it’s commonly called an ‘audit’, ‘diagnostic’, or similar. In essence, it’s a paid research briefing that enables the consultant to better understand the problem they’re seeking to solve.

The business receives value, which could include outcomes such as a list of recommendations, ordered by priority (with enough detail so that the business receives real value), an operations manual, a business or marketing plan, a detailed scope of work, or an organisational chart.

This is the necessary first step in the program of improvement, but now the consultant is being paid for their research and analysis. Their foot, so to speak, is in the door.

Ambiguity doesn’t sell

If you want to reduce your time spent in business development and streamline your sales process, you need to make your website work harder.

You do that through a sales page that clearly defines the audit/diagnostic/introductory offer. A sales page that uses clear and compelling language to build trust and rapport, spells out the one, two, three process, and invites people in.

You don’t need to publish your price on your sales page, even if it’s for a service package. But there should be a clear process and call-to-action at the bottom, with a form to complete.

Business-to-business websites selling professional services are frequently overstuffed with words devoid of meaning. It seems the more sophisticated the services, the vaguer the website.

When we read vague, ambiguous language, we see a mountain of work. Prospective clients see a laborious undertaking of getting to know you, understanding your process, and figuring out how, exactly, you can help. Because your website isn’t making that clear. Prospective clients don’t necessarily want a convoluted sales process either. And confused, overwhelmed people don’t take the time. They bounce away.

Complicated is not sophisticated

I imagine right now there are two types of readers: those who love everything I’m saying and ready to tighten their website into a welcome party for new people who want the first step, and are happy to pay for it, and those who are rebelling, shaking their heads thinking, “she couldn’t possibly comprehend the magnitude and depth of what I do.”

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough,” says Einstein. If your website, most notably, your audit/diagnostic offer sales page can’t clearly state it, then you’re not engendering confidence in people. You’re turning people off.

Regardless of the particulars of what you do, you’re likely following a process, and whatever that process is, the first step is likely to involve some diagnosis. Break off that first step and give it to your clients as a clear, valuable package. Once they get a taste of your expertise, they’re going to want the whole meal.

But if you can’t first tease their ambitions with the appetiser, then you’re going to be forever stuck working your network, marketing to your colleagues, unable to scale.

Are you ready to make your website work harder? Then join the Write Sales Pages (that sell!) course.