WARNING: Do Not Sell HighLevel as SaaS—Do This Instead!

A Paradigm Shift in Business Growth

I’m here to tell you that you should NOT be selling HighLevel as Software as a Service, Saas.

You heard right.

Let me make it clear that I’m not trying to discourage you from using HighLevel. In fact, quite the opposite. I’m a proud partner, and I rely on their software daily for my own business operations. 

HighLevel is a critical tool for growing your business, but selling it as plain old SaaS is not going to get you the results you’re looking for

There’s a better way, and I’m here to show you how.


Let’s clarify what Software as a Service, or SaaS, is and why people created it in the first place before we dive in.

What is SaaS?

Simplifying Software Delivery

SaaS is a method of software delivery designed to provide easy access to software via the Internet. It emerged as a response to the complexities of obtaining and updating software in the past.

In the past, people used to go to the store, buy licenses in boxes with discs, install the software, and deal with constant updates, which required repeating the whole process.

It was a GIANT pain in the neck!

Enter the Internet

But then, the software industry decided to deliver software over the Internet. No more discs, no more hassles.

Software creators could now deliver their products online, making them accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. It was a win-win—easier for users and more profitable for creators. This is how we get our software now.

Why SaaS Works for Some But Not All

The Diverse Landscape of Software Users

SaaS is a fantastic business model IF you are the creator of the software platform and IF you are selling to “tools customers.”

What do I mean by tools customers? Well, I’m a customer of tools, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I invest in certain software tools because I sit down and use them myself to perform particular functions in my business.

But the reality is that most small businesses—particularly those we serve as agencies or marketing providers—aren’t just looking for tools.

The Small Business Owner’s Dilemma

The guy who’s running his pizza shop 18 hours a day and is exhausted at the end of the day typically does not have time to sit down with a set of tools and start marketing his business… which is why most small businesses don’t get marketing done.

Their only other option for years has been to hire agencies, but agencies are typically expensive… which is why most small businesses don’t hire agencies and, again, don’t get their marketing done.
But there’s a game-changing alternative: be more than just a tools provider.

I know selling tools sounds really good—it’s a great business model—but here’s the deal:

Your competition has raised a ton of money to eat your lunch.

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Giants in the SaaS Arena

I’m talking about companies you probably know, like Birds Eye, which some time ago had raised 33 million and has tens of thousands of customers.

Bird Eye Company's site screenshot

They’ve either raised more than that by now or are profitable anyway and don’t need to. They can just go out and acquire customers fast.


They’re smart.

Not only do they know this tools business is a great model, but they also know they need the financial firepower to go and scoop up as much of the industry as quickly as possible to compete against guys like—Podium.

Podium Company website screenshot

The podium has raised 237 million to date.

237 million.

And you know what they’re using most of that money for? Salespeople.


They’ve got a ton of salespeople making outbound calls to small businesses following up on the leads they’re generating from their ad campaigns. In other words, they have serious sales and marketing muscle that you don’t have.

So, if you are trying to compete with these guys by just selling tools like them, guess what? You are in for a world of hurt.

You’ve got competitors that have a lot more firepower.
The question is… What do you do?

Am I saying, “Hey, just throw this HighLevel stuff out?” Absolutely not.

You know that’s not the case.

So what do you have to do? I have the answer…

Focus on a new type of SaaS—Systems as a Service.

The Systems as a Service Advantage

Shifting the Paradigm

Okay, what’s the difference here? It’s a BIG difference. It’s a CRITICAL difference.

Systems as a Service introduces a profound shift in how you leverage HighLevel’s capabilities.

The Components of Systems as a Service

What is a system, first of all? It’s an organized and coordinated method: a set of components working together as a whole for a common purpose.

What components am I referring to?

  • Service
    Yes, using the HighLevel software is an absolutely critical part of your system, but so are services. Most of you likely come from an agency industry background where you provide marketing services, and they will remain a crucial part of what you do.
  • Assets
    One of my favorite things to include in this mix. When I say assets, I’m referring to things like marketing campaigns, landing pages, funnels, and website templates you’ve already designed for a specific industryLayer assets like these on top of the software to make it more valuable to the business owner who doesn’t have time to sit down with a set of tools and start designing their own marketing campaigns or landing pages. That restaurant owner doesn’t want to become a professional marketer.
  • Leadership
    The final component that is critical in the small business space is leadership. 
    What do I mean by leadership? I mean thought leadership, creating community hosting events, doing training. All the things that small businesses need to help them succeed, besides just the tools.

A Complete Solution

This way, when you’re selling Systems as a Service, Saas, you have a much more complete offering for those systems customers that are so important in the industry.

Again, systems customers are right here in the middle and make up the majority of the market. 

The majority of the market is not just a tools buyer. The majority of the market is also not an agency buyer because they can’t afford custom services. They can’t spend several thousand dollars a month with you to help them with their marketing.

That’s why THE SYSTEM is the biggest opportunity in the marketplace.

Types of small business buyers f- Mike Cooch

Systems are priced somewhere between $97 and $997 a month, depending on what exactly you’re delivering.

They are based on tools—on that incredible HighLevel platform—but with services, assets, and leadership layered on top to create a more complete solution for those small businesses that need help.

And they give you a way of differentiating what you have to offer from the straight software tools providers.

Avoiding Commoditization

You must have something more than just a set of tools, or you WILL get commoditized

You’ll get crushed by the Podiums and the Bird Eyes that have raised so much money and have massive teams that can compete with you directly on technology, feature by feature. 

You don’t want to be in that game.

There are so many people out there who have access to HighLevel and can put out the exact same platform with the exact same solutions and the exact same features that you can.

Now you’re just competing on price UNLESS you are taking a system approach that goes beyond software. This is your key to differentiation in the market.

So, what are some examples of businesses taking a more systems-based approach?

In summary, your client is outlining a workflow for managing posts, links, and their statuses in a Google Sheet. This involves organizing drafts, tracking live posts, and planning future posts based on a collaborative approach with Jen.

Learn from Successful Examples

I’m not very familiar with them, but I found them out there in the marketplace, and it looks like they’re doing a really nice job. 

These guys are targeting hotels—with a system. Go to their website, and you’ll see they offer software tools, but also marketing campaigns they’ve developed, services they’re offering, and thought leadership for the industry.

Tambourine Hotel Marketing Company

Another one that I love is Repurpose House. Instead of going after an industry niche, they’re going after a specific marketing function niche.

Repurposing content is tough unless you’ve got a good set of tools and processes to do it. These guys do that as a service, and you can sign up with them for a flat monthly fee. They take your content and repurpose it so you can use it all across the web and social media in different formats.

Repurpose House Successfull Niche Function Company

How do they do that? They’re using tools to allow them to slice and dice, but they’re layering on a service so you don’t have to do it yourself. They’ve also got thought leadership on how to do it effectively.

Another one of my favorite businesses. They have one very specific function: whereas Repurposed House takes on a broader repurposing of content, Newsletter Pro focuses solely on getting newsletters out the door for you.

Newslaterpro Company Success

They’ve got a nice recurring revenue and a great team that is 100% focused on producing standout newsletters for businesses.

You could invest in newsletter software tools and do that yourself. And yet, small businesses don’t. That’s the dilemma—and why Systems as a Service is the ultimate solution.

These guys use the HighLevel platform themselves. Again, it’s a system—a gross system encompassing more than just HighLevel.

They tell us, “Chris Lyle took his own firm from Zero to Thriving in a few short years.”

And the way he did that was by developing specific marketing campaigns and strategies and layering them on top of the high-level platform. He’s put it together as a system targeting a very specific industry.

Law Hustle Company

Go back and look at Podium and Birds Eye. They are so broadly focused on the small business marketplace that they have to sell to thousands of customers to be successful and make up for all that money they’ve raised. 

It’s very hard for them to have the knowledge, insights, and thought leadership that Chris has because he’s completely focused on one niche and offers a system that’s MUCH more valuable than tools alone.

It really is ALL about the system

You need software—like the Go HighLevel platform, which I absolutely love—but also services, marketing, assets, and leadership all combined into one comprehensive system that you’re delivering for your customers.

You don’t want to sell just Software as a Service, Saas. Trust me. You’re going against competitors with deep pockets that can match you feature by feature with huge sales teams and huge marketing budgets. 

Don’t play the commodity game.

You’ve got to be in the business of creating complete systems for either an industry niche or a functional niche.

Whether it’s repurposing content, publishing newsletters, managing social media—or whatever—you’ve got to target a niche and build a system. 

Systems as a Service is where it’s at.

For more resources on how to take full advantage of the biggest opportunity in the marketplace, head over to my website: ServicesThatScale.

Thriving in the Systems as a Service Era

You don’t need to fight that well-funded Software as a Service competitors.

Build a system instead. Use tools effectively, show thought leadership, leverage your knowledge to create assets, and use services to help your customers—the surefire way to win in the small business marketplace.

I hope this post will guide your business growth through Systems as a Service so you can differentiate your offering, avoid commoditization, and outshine all those SaaS heavyweights!

All the best,

Mike Cooch Signature

PS – I made six shifts in my approach to building my business that allowed me to grow quickly and stop trading my time for money. You can learn them here. 👈🏻

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Avatar photo
Mike Cooch

ServicesThatScale CEO, Mike Cooch has worked with small businesses his entire career and has a passion for helping them grow and thrive.

He has founded successful, seven-figure businesses in technology services, agency services, publishing, and ecommerce.

His businesses have been leaders in creating, selling, and delivering 'productized services' that scale, landing them on the INC 5000 list of fastest growing companies three years in a row, and enabling him to sell his business for a successful exit.

He has three children, is an avid skier, hiker and traveler, and is loving life in his new hometown of San Diego.