Why Giving Free Consultations is Actually Bad for Your Business

By Jason Swenk on October 7, 2014

Clients hate usIn this episode I talk with Troy Dean about Post Traumatic Client Syndrome and why giving free consultations is actually bad for your business.

The struggle is real.

One of the biggest struggles out there is wasting time on unqualified leads. You drop everything to drive across town for a meeting with a potential client, buy them lunch, only to find out they have no plan and no budget. An afternoon totally wasted.

What you need is better screening. Here’s how:

  1. Draw a line in the sand and say “I will not touch a project under X amount of dollars.”
  2. Stop doing free consults.

Find out the budget before you meet.

If you don’t want to be doing projects under $10,000, then find out the project’s budget before meeting with the client. When someone contacts you, reply with a survey of their project, asking things like budget and timeline. This will help you weed out those just casually browsing.

Start charging for the initial meeting.

This will help ensure that you’re meeting with people serious about making a deal.

It doesn’t have to be a big fee. Don’t even call it a fee. Do a consultation with a something that they can take with them. Create some sort of roadmap, blueprint, or strategy. This way, they feel like they’re walking away with something of value and you’re being paid for your time.

The Nightmare Client.

Post traumatic client syndrome is what happens when you deal with a pain-in-the-ass client. You know the ones: micromanaging, aloof, wishywashy. These clients suck.

One way to avoid PTCS is by positioning yourself as a consultant rather than a tradesperson. You want to change how the client views you. You’re not an hourly product and you should be wary of working with anyone who doesn’t think you’re worth the amount you charge or who thinks what you do is “easy” or “simple.”

If you have a nightmare client – get out and get out fast. There is no reason to work with someone who doesn’t respect you or what you do. Drop the PIA ones to make room for the great clients with awesome projects.


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