As an entrepreneur, do you feel slightly offended when someone asks for a free consultation (given that you don’t formally offer it)? Or, if you offer free consultations, have you ever wished you didn’t? And then it’s followed by a pang of guilt and a thought like “I should offer free advice for these patrons. I should even feel good about being complimented.” You should probably evaluate the impact that giving free consultations has on your business.
First, let’s look at how free consultations affect your business positively. There are several good reasons why free consultations took the 21st century entrepreneurs by storm, and has unknowingly become the “norm” for businesses.
Starting entrepreneurs always seek people who have achieved more. Being sought for advice is a great compliment, indeed. It boosts your moral and gives you confidence. There’s nothing bad in that.
More potential clients.
The power of free consultations is in the word “free”, which, in this modern times is one of the bigger market-magnets of a business.
A word from a client who took part in your free consultation might spread quicker, thus increasing your popularity. But that’s just a “might”.
These positive effects sure look great and enticing. However, you might change your mind after knowing what the negative effects are.
Valuable time is wasted.
Not everyone who avails of a free consultation is a sure client. Worse, most of these people are just attracted by the word “free” and are just “window shopping” for advice.
It’s not bad to entertain clients who just want to check out your services. But are you really willing to drop your work and postpone your business tasks, just to answer queries by a client who doesn’t actually intend to avail of your offerings? That’s just time wasted.
As an entrepreneur, every minute matters. You must gain profit every chance you get, so your business will grow. That’s the proper mindset of a businessperson. So, charge for your consultations. It’s a way to weed out people who don’t want to commit.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Spending time with a wishy-washy client who’s not going to invest in you is not worth investing your time in.
Your advice and effort might go to waste.
If you’re giving every consulting client your 101% attention, that’s good. What’s bad is for the effort to go to waste. Not everyone consulting with you will heed your advice, or work with you.
Advice that’s easily obtained isn’t worth taking. Here’s an example. If a painter gives one of his best paintings for free to a person, at first, yes, he will value it. It’s beautiful, after all. But over time, physical impressions, just like your client’s impressions of your advice, will fade easily.
The person who received the painting will no longer find it beautiful. The worth of the free painting will be forgotten, since beauty fades and there’s no underlying weight left in it. Much goes the same for your advice.
However, if you price your valuable time, there’s an added weight to your words. It’s never about the money in these bits of advice. It’s about putting your effort to good use.
If a person pays for an appointment with you, they’ll realize later that they earned the advice you gave them. It’s psychologically proven that people take action after going through a priced consultation. They realize your words are valuable.
You lessen your value.
For people who ask for your free advice, it’s disrespectful to the years you have sacrificed in order to improve yourself and your business. It’s not bad to give out general tips, but to easily share what took you years to master is unfair to you.
For a lesson to be truly understood by a learner, they must learn it the hard way. A starting entrepreneur must invest in order to gain. That’s one of the basics of business. You’re not effectively helping people improve their standing.
By pricing your consultation, you give a statement that you’re an authority figure, and your words are worth something. Money adds value to things. A person who pays for your advice will most likely act on your words or invest in you again.
Finally, time spent without earning profit is time wasted. Do you see an increase in sales because of “free consultation?” Do you gain anything by doing this? If so, then feel free to continue doing it. However, once you’re starting to doubt it, re-evaluate, and if necessary, stop.
Instead, offer free advice not directly from your business. Refer people to free content or even to your blog. Tell them about articles that you’ve already offered to the public without charge. Or, be systematic and make a list of the free services you offer, and at the end, include how much you charge for a consultation.
Connect to clients emotionally. Tell them that you understand their concerns and are willing to address them with your full, undivided, and unbiased attention.
Learn how to add value not just to your services, but also to yourself as an established entrepreneur.