Saturday, October 15, 2011



Free consultations are commonplace these days. Not only does it allow the buyer to get to know you and your business, it allows you and your business to qualify the buyer.

As a business development and marketing consultant, and special event planner, I certainly recommend hosting a free consultation to be sure that the inquiry is a desirable one, and that you are a good fit for the job. Free consultations should be a meeting to discover why the client is looking for help, identify the areas in need that you can specifically improve, and show the prospect that you have the abilities to resolve their problems. Free consultations should not be a platform to give the client solutions to their problems - never ever give away your secrets (not a one!).

Prospects will ask pointed questions – and that’s OK. Instead of getting overly secretive, focus the discussion on your deep understanding of the prospects concerns, promote your process, and refer to some of your previous cases that were successful because of your value-add. Be comfortable knowing that you probably aren’t going to answer all of the client’s questions in detail. Starting off with the terms of the meeting will help manage a buyer’s expectations of what will be discussed.

Throughout my experience, I’ve met many consultants in business development, marketing, hospitality, special events and weddings, concierge services, creative industries, and then some, who are frustrated by their conversion from free consultations to paying business. They tend to turn inward, and become insecure in their abilities. This reaction is dangerous because it can cause one to underprice themselves or even quit their business altogether.

Instead of doubting yourself and your services, focus on developing your sales techniques.
A free consultation is informational, but make it also be your soft/hard sell. A consultant has to position themselves as an expert in their field to people seeking out help, so take carry that assertion through to your closing and do the “ask”. It is not pushy or awkward to find out when the client would like to get started. It’s a good thing if you tell them what your next step is upon taking on a new client. At the very least, make sure you are speaking with the decision maker, and if not, find out who that will be.

Remember, your main objective is to qualify the prospective customer and turn them into an active client ... and their main goal is to find the best person to hire. If you recognize that it is not a good fit, save both parties time by politely ending the consultation and then guide them to someone who is better suited to service their needs. They will appreciate your honesty and help; who knows, you may get a referral (or two) from them - it's happened to me.

About the Author: Kristin Kim (contact: is the President and COO of Fleur Irisée: an exclusive consulting firm in Denver, CO and Boston, MA (headquarters). Fleur Irisée specializes in developing fully integrated turn-key solutions for your personal and professional needs. Our talents focus on strategic business development, special event management, wedding planning, and select concierge services. “Discrete + Experienced + Professional + Sophisticated”

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