Escape the scourge of "free consulting"

Yesterday, on the Unstoppable CEO Roundtable call Jessika raised an important question...

"What do you do when a prospect calls and wants to 'pick your brain'?"

She rightly, translated "pick your brain" into its true meaning..."provide free consulting."

Ever happen to you?

They pick your brain, get all of your valuable knowledge and then, say "thanks" and disappear...

They might as well have picked your pocket.

It's the scourge of service businesses and it can be difficult to avoid.

You don't want to "offend" a potential client, so you feel compelled to comply and offer free advice.

Oddly, THEY don't worry about offending you by asking you to do what you should get paid for, for free.

As much as you may not like it, it's going to happen. So here's how to approach it...

#1) Have a process.

A process that all new clients go through. (Ours starts with an application.)

Send ALL prospects through that process. They won't balk if it's in their interest. In the case of an application, it's in their interest, because the information they'll give you will help you prepare for the first meeting.

If they won't fill it out, it's a darn good sign, they won't make a good client.

#2) Be scarce.

One of our new clients told me he wants to build a exclusive practice where prospects feel lucky to get a meeting with him. He sent me his online booking tool that prospects see, and there are 16 appointment slots available per day, every day.

That ain't exclusive! (We promptly changed it.)

Don't have a full calendar? It can be done in 60 days.

Work by appointment only. Who do you want to do business with, the guy that's "by appointment" because he's that good and, frankly, values himself and his time. Or, do you want to work with the person who appears desperate for the business...sitting by the phone all day?

The good clients want the former.

#3) Elevate the conversation.

Most often free consulting starts with a simple query for information--facts or opinion. Because it's 'just information' it can appear to have little value.

So add some value...open and elevate the conversation, by asking questions, instead of simply delivering on the request. You'll soon discover if this is a real opportunity for you or not.

And, if not, why invest in it?

#4) Take out YOUR head trash.

The #1 reason professionals do 'free consulting' is between your ears. Hey, I get it...it's OK. Just recognize it for what it is: fear of going without.

Recognize it, understand it's not real, and accept the truth that you're worth paying for...probably worth a lot more than you're being paid right now.

Stop the free consulting!

Steve Gordon

101 North Monroe Street, Capitol Hill, FL, 32301