Let’s start with what a complimentary consultation is not.
It is not a place to give away free coaching, consulting, or services.
In my business philosophy, a complimentary consultation is not a place for a ‘hard sell’ either.
The purpose of a complimentary consultation, also referred to as a discovery session, strategy session, sample session, get acquainted call, etc., is for you and your potential client to get to know one another a bit and to determine if the two of you are a good fit to work together.
You are interviewing each other.
Yes, they are assessing whether or not they want to work with you and if what you offer meets their needs.
And yes, you are assessing them to determine whether or not you want to work with them. Are they your ideal client? Are the two of you in alignment? There is so much more for you to consider than just finding out whether they want to pay for your services.
Free consultations are pretty standard, and in the era of online businesses, they’re almost a necessity. Think about it, if you haven’t met a person, and all you know of them is what they write on their blog, website, or social media, wouldn’t you want to get to know them with a little personal attention before you hit the buy now button? Of course you would! And so do your prospective clients.
So, what are the essentials for hosting your successful consultations?
One, it’s imperative that you position yourself as the expert. Someone is coming to you because they have a problem they’d like to solve, and they don’t know how to solve it on their own, so they’ve approached you, the expert.
Be the expert.
Think of yourself as a physician. A patient with an ailment comes to you looking for relief. Your job is to ask lots of targeted and insightful questions to identify the underlying problem, their pain points, what they most want relief from, and then determine where they want to go so you can propose an appropriate solution.
Two, these calls are about service, not acquisition. If you want to truly be a respected expert, you cannot be trying to get something from your consult. You are simply there to identify their problem and offer a solution – to be of service. Coming from a place of service not only gives the conversation space and allows the two of you to connect, but it also alleviates all the pressure of a ‘hard sell’ (which no one likes and everyone’s afraid of).
Three, ask thoughtful and guiding questions. You need to identify where the root of the problem is. Someone might say they have no time, but what they’re really saying is they’ve been so stressed in their days that even when they’ve finished work they can’t be present with their family and it’s starting to strain that most important relationship. They might come to you because they cannot seem to do the thing they most want to do. They hope you can help.
Your goal is to help guide them into what the real problem is, and ask them to identify what will happen if they don’t solve it. It’s not always comfortable, but sometimes your consult client will need to describe it for themselves before they can allow help to enter.
Four, stay in the conversation. If you know, truly know, that you can help this person you’re speaking to, and what’s more you want to help them, then it is your job to stay in the conversation as the person who can guide them to the transformation they desire. Be present, hold the space, and keep talking. Sometimes people say no, but if you stay in the conversation, they turn that no into a yes – all you had to do was stay with them.
Five, detach from the outcome. Remember I said that you do not want to come to a consultation with the expectation that you will get something from the person you’re speaking to? I understand that you want to build your business. I understand that you need paying clients to do that. This is true.
What is equally true is that there is another human being on the line with you who has trusted enough to talk to you. They have stepped out of their comfort zone and shown their pain and their vulnerability to you. Respect that.
Respect that human being who is your potential client.
Center yourself. Detach from the outcome.
Stay present and be of service.
Be open to the possibilities that may come from this conversation. Be open and receptive to the idea that there is more to be gained than an immediate ‘yes’ and that there is more to lose, way more, when you push for an outcome that you believe is in your best interest.
The great thing about consultations is, even if you don’t enroll a person today, on the spot, you’ve created a connection. And in a harried and over-stimulated online world, a real connection goes a long long way. You never know when that person will turn around and hire you, recommend you, or sing your praises from the cyber rooftops.
I recommend you do as many complimentary consultations as you possibly can.
Only good things can happen when you host complimentary consultations with an intention to position yourself as an expert, come from a place of service, connect with others, and detach from the outcome.
Only good things.