Why free consultations don’t work

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Lots of professionals offer their clients a free consultation or free trial.

These usually don’t work as an initial offer. Why? Because people are skeptical. They don’t know you in the first place, and so:

1. Think you are going to make a sales pitch (and you are).

2. Don’t want you inside their business, because they don’t know or trust you. The downside risk of letting someone into their private and personal concerns is too high.

It is much better to demonstrate your value with something that presents less risk to them, and is less intimate – like a free report that addresses one of their more pressing problems (and that you solve).

As a somewhat related aside, I was walking to Raymond James Stadium yesterday to see the Tampa Bay Bucs play the Dolphins. The Fresca company was offering free soda samples to fans. Now, the day was hot, and it was way before the game, and so you’d think everyone would take a free can of soda. Not true. I counted that maybe 25-33% of people took the free soda. The rest walked by — too busy to respond, skeptical about such a kind offer, or just not interested.

Anyways, the Fresca people got good exposure and got a bunch of people to try their soda.

Professionals will experience a much lower response rate with an offer of a free trial.

Here is one other example:

When I first started in consulting, my local Chamber of Commerce had a trade show to highlight local businesses. They needed free door prizes. I offered to give 3 hours of my executive coaching to a lucky winner. The President of the Chamber turned me down, for the same reasons noted above. She told me that no one wants free professional services, because they need to know the person giving the services — especially when we are in a field with no certification.

So there you go.

Andrew NeitlichAndrew Neitlich
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