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How to Create Customers by Offering Free Consultations

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Free consultations are often used as a lead generation tool for anyone providing counsel. These allow clients to understand what you offer before they opt into your paid services. While a free consultation can be useful to the client, it can actually turn buyers away if you aren’t careful.

How to Offer Free Consultations the Right Way

According to studies, only 40% of small businesses yield a profit, and 30% break even. If you don’t want to be a part of the other 30% who lose money, you’ll need to use the following tactics.

Record Your Consultation Ahead of Time

The time it takes to do consultations could be better spent with paying clients, so consider recording your consultations ahead of time. This method only works if you typically say the same things during a meeting or if your clients fill out a detailed pre-consultation survey.

A recorded consultation does two things. For one, it ensures your video is packed full of information and frequently asked questions, so your clients won’t need to ask anything else. For another, it can be replayed and analyzed by the client. This avoids any “he said, she said.” 

Don’t Give Out Too Much Info Too Soon

If a potential client sits in for the consultation and then signs, it was more than worth the effort. But if you give away too much information too soon, they may take your suggestions and run. Your free consultation session shouldn’t be a vehicle for your clients to steal your best ideas.

Even if your potential clients seem excited to sign up, it’s still vital that you hold your ideas to your chest. Instead of giving a solution, say, “I can think of x solutions to try.” If they ask what those solutions are, state that these ideas will be further discussed in your next session.

Limit Your Consultations to 15-20 Minutes

Whether you want to schedule free IT consultations or a patient consultation, make sure you cut your consultations short. If you only have 15-20 minutes to discuss a topic, clients won’t feel the need to ask questions. If they do, hold your ground and say you’ll answer questions at the end.

You’ll probably get a few clients that interrupt you during the consultation. Short interjections are acceptable but don’t try and plan a whole part of their business in 15 minutes. Remember that this time should be used to see if you can solve a client’s problems. Don’t discuss solutions.

Use a Structured Consultation Methodology

Your clients won’t know what to expect during the consultation, so give them a sneak peek. On your website, be clear as to what your free consultation involves, how long the session will take, and whether they need to prepare something. This cuts down on pre-session questions.

Framing the consultation as a “quick assessment” is a good idea, as it frames your conversation as casual. Keep in mind that marketing plays a big part in how many clients you attract, so be sure to follow up with your clients immediately after a session and promote on social media.

Support Your Offer With a Great Case Study

If you’ve been running your business for a while, you likely already have happy customers. To make your consulting session more compelling, interview past clients about how your advice solved their problems. Post this information on your landing pages, CTAs, and home page.

Case studies are a great way to market your services before a session, and they’re perfect for convincing on-the-fence clients. You can show clients case studies whenever they ask for specific solutions to their problems during the consultation, as it proves you’re experienced.

Spend Time Getting a Read on Your Client

No one wants to work with clients they don’t like, but it’s hard to understand a person’s true colors until the pressure is on. Still, you can interview your clients and check for red flags before working with them. Consultations are as much about the client as they are about your business.

Red flags are often dependent on your industry, but if the client is unsure of their goals, is in a hurry, or talks negatively about other work colleagues or freelancers, they’re probably going to be a bad client. It’s up to you whether you want to cut your losses or hope for the best.

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