Why you should stop giving away your time

Ever wonder how rich you would be if you were paid for all those coffee meetings, free consults and 'get-to-know-you' sessions that never lead to a paying client?

When you are getting started, it's tempting to do just about anything to get your foot in that potential client's door. 

But when the conversation with a prospective client turns to price, how often have you heard yourself say: "It's usually $x but for you, I can do it for..."

The truth is, it's hard sticking to your guns and asking to be paid what you are worth. In the moment, it can seem like landing the client is what's important. Whatever it takes. Whatever it costs.

The problem with this strategy is two-fold.

First, at the heart of any successful service business is the relationship they build with their clients (Harry Beckwith writes about this in his bestselling book Selling the Invisible). When you attempt to close on a prospective client and immediately offer a price discount or a free trial, you switch the focus of the conversation away from the value you deliver to price. You make price the most salient feature of your brand (nerds: check out Byron Sharp's How Brands Grow for a stack of empirical research on this very subject).

Second, when there is no barrier to entry, clients will generally place less value on the service you provide. Which translates into less mental investment in your process yielding less than optimal results. So when it comes time to invest further, they are more likely to look elsewhere or simply DIY it.

I know what you are thinking. Everyone in your industry is offering free consultations. Doesn't this mean you need to follow suit?

Not if you can deliver real value for that initial investment. And that initial investment doesn't need to be huge. Can you offer a tangible deliverable from that initial consultation for $100, $50, even $25?