Many service-related business owners these days are “giving away” their business services – and then wonder why people aren’t hiring them in droves. In the name of “marketing,” business owners are providing way too much information for free. Some shifts in thinking are necessary if these business owners expect to be in business years from now. No one expects to go into a shoe store, ask for free shoes, and walk out of the store! If you don’t value your services, no one else will. So if you’re holding back information that you rightfully should be paid for, and you believe that you’re hoarding or being stingy, please look to see if that belief is based in reality.
Setting boundaries on just how much free information, or free services, you’ll give away is not easy to do. And what can you say to people who 1) ask outright for free information, or 2) just start talking to you about something and you realize that they’re trying to “borrow” your valuable resources without becoming a client? Here are some ideas. Try them on to see what “fits” you best.
- My charge for an initial consultation is “x”. If we turn out to be a good match, and you hire me, I’ll apply 1/2 of “x” towards your commitment.
- Yes, I do work with clients on “name the issue.” Would you like to set up a consultation?
- That will cost “x” per hour.
- There’s a lot I can do for you that’s similar to the work I did for “xyz” client. Would you like to get together and build a marketing plan? (And then charge for those services.) Are you looking to hire _____? Well, I’d love to talk to you about that; my fees are “x” per hour.
- “Well, the answer to that question depends…” and then spend a few minutes explaining some of the options and considerations. For example, I may explain that the best way to identify the “solution” is to work backward from the desired end result and process. That provides a natural lead-in to: “If I were to work with you on this project, here’s how we would do it…”
- A complete answer to your question is going to take more than 15 minutes over the phone. Would you like me to send you a proposal on this?
- I have really enjoyed talking with you and would like to help more. May I send you one of my brochures and a rate card? Do you have a time line and/or budget in mind for solving this problem?
- It’s not a good time for me to discuss this right this minute. Would you like to briefly discuss project guidelines and fees?
As a service business owner, part of what you “offer” clients and what they value from you is your knowledge and expertise. It’s as much a part of your “services” as any tangible materials you produce. So make sure to treat it as such, and get compensated fairly! When you value your services, others will, too.
An irrepressible entrepreneur, Maria Marsala sold AVON at age 14 and landed on Wall Street three years later. She became a bond trader at a time when female executives were as rare as pink diamonds. In 1998, brimming with over 25 years of business experience, Maria founded Elevating Your Business, a business development company dedicated to helping high-achieving financial sector women CEOs, presidents and executives shift into extreme succe$$. Maria customizes solutions to detect and overcome each client’s unique obstacles, helping them create the business and lifestyle they only imagined possible. It starts at www.coachmaria.com