Recently a colleague said they were nervous about hosting their first client consultation. Well, they called it an interview but they stopped dead in their tracks when they saw the look on my face. So what’s the difference?
If a prospect said they wanted to interview me, alarm bells would be ringing all over the place. It tells me they’re either looking for an assistant. Or, they want to treat me like an employee. And I am neither!
Of course, when you first talk to a prospect there’s a bit of bum sniffing and checking whether the chemistry fits. But after the initial conversation comes the consultation. Not an interview.
An interview will help an employer decide whether someone is the right fit for the role. On the other hand, a consultation helps a service provider understand what areas of support their prospect will benefit from most. The service provider will then present a proposal and their fee and the bespoke package will be fine-tuned from there.
If you haven’t hosted a consultation before you might worry that your inexperience and nerves will shine more than brightly than your experience and expertise. Or you’re concerned because you don’t know how to sell? These are common concerns and can apply to pretty much anything you haven’t yet mastered.
An example is learning how to drive. Before you learn how to make a car stop, start and reverse, you have no idea how to do it. But you do know there’s a process and you also know that many folks successfully learn to drive. It’s the same with consultations. You need to create and learn your process.
When you have a process it’s like a map. And all you have to do is follow the route from enquiry right through to a client.
Perhaps you don’t have consultations with your prospects and so you’re wondering what’s the big deal. What are the benefits? Why do folk bother?
Financially a consultation is an absolute must! It’s your opportunity to understand what your prospect wants to achieve and for you to get a thorough insight into their problems. You can then create an ongoing administrative solution for them. An ongoing solution that ensures they became the holy grail of clients – a retained client.
When you have a roster of retained clients your cash flow is consistent. Invoicing is easy because you’re not completing minute by minute timesheets. You stop worrying whether a client will ask why it took so long to complete X or Y. And, you stop being financially penalised for being amazingly quick! Instead, each month you submit an invoice for the pre-agreed price. Simple.
Another benefit? Well, you won’t receive daily briefs or requests. You’ll have agreed what areas of support they need, what your remit is and every day you work to fulfil that one brief.
If you sell your services by the hour you may think “Yea, but some months I work 10 hours and other months 30 hours and so I’ll lose out”. It can be difficult to wrap the old noggin around this one, but you’re not selling your time. You’re selling your experience, expertise and skills and when that’s all wrapped up it has a value to your clients. And that’s why it’s called Value Based Pricing.
What value you do you add to your client’s business?
If ever I’m asked what my hourly rate is, I flip the question around and ask what they want to gain from working with me.
So what does a prospect gain when they have an ongoing relationship with you that’s not based on billing by the hour?
Your support will allow them to grow their business and increase revenue. Every month they’ll have more hours to focus on paying client work and business development. They’re not weighed down running their business. They can actively plan how they want their business to grow.
Knowing how much your clients gain by having you around, is a good reminder that you also need to run a profitable business!
I hope you can now begin to consider the consultation as your opportunity to quash the How Much? question. Instead, you’ll educate prospects about what they will gain.
A confident consultation will also ensure you earn more because you have more AND better paying, retained clients. A consultation helps you weed out all the time wasters and tyre kickers!
If your current system is keeping you from earning what you’re worth and you’re not getting the clients you want, I recommend you take a look at my programme, From Enquiry to Client. Maybe you aren’t comfortable hosting client consultations, or you find it difficult to write proposals. If you don’t have a consultation system in place or you feel nervous and exposed when you think about hosting a consultation you’ll love this course.
By the end of the programme, you’ll confidently lead your prospects through the initial conversations right through to onboarding them as a new and profitable client.
This is the system I’ve used since I started my business in 2009 and over the years I’ve fine-tuned it so it now fits like a glove. The system keeps me on track and my clients love it too. From the first time they get in touch, they’re filled with confidence because they know I’ll lavish the same care and attention on their business. And that’s a great PR piece which doesn’t cost a penny!
I wasn’t always great at consultations. I had to fumble and find my way around to create a system and a framework that works and which I feel comfortable and confident using. And that’s half the battle. This guide will give you the confidence to host great consultations. And you’ll feel comfortable because you’ll know exactly how to proceed with this very important conversation.
Sign up to the programme now and take the first step to getting yourself more profitable clients.