I’ve made some really huge changes to my practice since I started Birken Law Office back in 2016. And one of the hardest (and most valuable) changes has been to STOP GIVING AWAY MY TIME. Read: no more free consultations.
How it works
When someone calls or emails the firm, they first interact with Meghan (my wing woman) who provides a free Q & A session that answers their questions and chats with them about their issue. This helps people know they’re in the right place, and let’s us provide a level of ‘free call’ in which Meghan qualifies them as someone we can work with (or not).
After the free phone call? They get a series of 4 lead nurturing emails (I use Active Campaign and love it). The emails help them get to know us. They’re funny, they describe how we work, who we love to work with and help them start to trust us.
Finally, I packaged the whole consultation process as a product. It’s a limited scope flat fee session and each client leaves with a folder and a plan for the way forward whether they hire me or not. My promise to the client is that the hour they pay for with me is jam packed with value – not a glorified sales pitch.
When the client decides they’re ready to sit down with me, they’re more than willing to pay for it.
Can you really ask people to pay for an initial consult?
Paid consults may sound crazy since free tends to be “how we’ve always done it” and you might find yourself thinking, but “everybody’s doing it!” But paid consults DO WORK. At least for me and my clients (and trust me nonprofits are some of the cheapest, most broke clients you can have).
Now, I don’t spend 8 hours a week giving free consultations to wannabe founders I’ll never hear from again. And I can spend that time on clients that are happy to pay for my services. (What a great way to start!)
Do I do fewer consults now? Yes. But my closing rate went way up – and my practice is going great. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing – and although I have several direct competitors in the same town in the same practice area, I still get plenty of clients. Go figure!
Hear my 5 reasons you should charge for your consultations in this video I made with the always awesome Megan Zavieh:
Do you charge for consultations? If not, what’s holding you back? Tweet me, @JessBirken.