How To Manage Prospects Who Want Free IT Consulting Advice
How To Manage Prospects Who Want Free IT Consulting Advice
If you’re a person with valuable talents or skills, chances are people will notice without you even trying. That’s just the way it is. One of the challenges of being a person of professional value is that you will often find yourself giving free advice here and there. People will want to have a cup of coffee with you, lunch, and whatnot just to pick your brain. It might start like small talk or a few questions out of curiosity, but you end up spending 20 minutes or more giving out valuable tips. When you start wondering whether you’re giving people free consultations, you probably are. In this article we will discuss how to deal with prospect who only want free consulting advice from you.
Since your time is valuable and you didn’t become an expert overnight, you probably don’t want to be giving out free consultations. At the same time, you don’t want to sound rude or too proud. So, you have to find the right way to make people know that you won’t be giving out your expert advice for free.
Here are some effective tactics you can use to decline requests for free consultations without coming across as aloof to potential clients.
The Loss Leader
Some companies give out free consultations or set their consultations at a cheaper price as a means to attract new customers/clients. This tactic is often called the loss leader. You decide to use your expertise and time to help a potential client with something, but you don’t go all the way. With this, there’s a chance that they will still have to hire you to completely help with the issue.
Let’s say you’re an IT expert or an SEO expert, you can offer a free consultation to assess a client’s website to tell the client what is wrong with their website. In some cases, the client will ask you how to fix the issue, now you have to remind them that the free consultation doesn’t cover that information. At this point, you can also suggest they book you for an elaborate assessment or to help with the issue.
The Pick My Brain Offer
You might not be comfortable offering free consultations no matter how small or big the issue is or the time you will spend with the client, and that’s okay. After all your time is money. Some consultants use a “pick my brain” offer they set at a cheap enough price such as $100 instead. With this, potential clients can ask them to lunch or have a cup of coffee with the consultant and pick their brain for a short time. It’s up to you to set a good enough price for you that is affordable for your potential clients for your “pick my brain” offer. So, the next time a potential client asks you to lunch to pick your brain, you can refer them to this offer.
Read This White Paper First
Another tactic you can use to decline requests for free consultations is to ask potential clients to read your white paper first or any of your relevant guides that might address their concerns. This doesn’t mean you’ll no longer allow consultations whether free or paid. But any potential client who has gone through your guide or white paper will have more information about your terms and will have a better understanding of their concern. As a result, when you eventually sit with the client, you two will be able to have a meaningful straightforward conversation.
This tactic requires you to prepare guides that address many possible concerns your clients might have so that you will have something to give them when they ask for a free consultation.
Prepare Email Templates
Similar to the already prepared white paper is already prepare email templates you can send to potential clients. These email templates can cover different suggestions such as the “pick my brain” offer, “read this white paper first”, follow-up suggestions, a link to your blog, a webinar link, your services, and pricing, etc.
You want to have these email templates ready so that you can easily send them to prospects immediately depending on the type of question they ask. Doing this saves you time, and all you have to do is review their request and email them what you think will address their specific concern.
You Can Also Send Them Resources
Another way to help your clients with accepting their request for a free consultation is to send them resources to carry out their own research. Instead of looking for relevant resources every time a prospect shares their concern, you can compile a list of useful resources that address many possible concerns your clients might have. Give this to prospects who are ignoring your suggestion to book you for an elaborate consultation. You can include videos, blogs, whatever to help prospects without actually spending your time to give out free expert tips.
Follow-Ups Are Not Always What They Seem
For paying clients, it’s a good practice to follow up and help them along with the solutions you provided. But for the prospects you gave free consultations or any of the other free alternatives, be wary of following up with their concerns. Of course, they might have follow-up questions after the “pick my brain” session or after going through the guide or resources you sent. You have to be careful to avoid giving them an elaborate consultation for free.
A better way to deal with situations like this is to be direct and ask them if they would like to address their concern under a more formal agreement. You can say something like this; Thanks for your follow-up questions and I can certainly help. Can I send you my terms so that we can proceed with a formal agreement to address your concerns? This helps the client decide whether to continue with a formal agreement and pay you for your services.
Remember that people are not always conscious that when they are asking for free tips and a little of your time to pick your brain, they’re asking for free services. You have to set boundaries but be firm and polite. Lastly, avoid making compromises on your decision to decline requests for free consultations.
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