Learn when to draw the line between advice and consulting
The hardest part about consulting is learning when to give free advice and when to charge someone for your expertise. Part of gaining new business is showing potential customers what you are capable of doing and a lot of times consultants are willing to give away that information in hopes that it will turn around into a contract. But, where do you draw the line from giving free advice to charging for your expertise?
What is your expertise worth?
Something to consider when you are on the fence with a potential client is what the information that you are about to give them is worth? Is the information something that another client pays for? Is the information being sought from you something that could turn into action items for this client? When someone is asking for your advice, they are asking for your expertise for a reason. Use this opportunity to show the client what you have done for other customers; provide samples, testimonials, and other information that supports the information being sought after. This is a great opportunity to offer a presentation demonstrating these items and is a more formal response to their need. From the presentation, will come suggested action items that could most likely lead into a contract with this client for services.
Your time, your expertise
When seeing a lawyer or a doctor, the expectation is that you make an appointment and they are paid for their expertise during this time. The same should go for any consultant in any field. When someone is requiring a block of your time, that’s money you should be earning. Set specific appointments with potential clients to discuss their questions and needs. Not only will they respect the formalities but it will keep the relationship professional and make the potential client aware that your time and information is valuable.
Know when to draw the line
Last, but definitely not least, know when to draw the line. Let the prospective client know that you hold the expertise and skills that they are seeking and make them aware of what you charge for your time. Also, let them know that if they allow you the opportunity to tackle some of their action items that they will truly benefit. This is your perfect opportunity to close the deal and prove results.
In the meantime, find ways to make yourself an industry thought leader. Publish a blog, become a contributor to a magazine or trade publications or look for speaking opportunities that position you as the go-to expert in your industry. Volunteer your time in industry associations that will raise awareness in the marketplace. Keep in mind that customers will not sign with you until you have them convinced that your expertise is valuable and so is your time. Use your confidence and respect in yourself to close each deal.