Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Can I Ask You One More Thing?

Are you giving away your business and your knowledge without realizing it?
Do you find you are spending time with people who want to squeeze every last drop out of you, but don’t want to pay for your service?

If you are in any kind of service-related industry, I bet you are “giving away” your business. I know as a Life Coach I come across this all the time. You know the types of clients/people I’m talking about. For example:

“Can I ask you just one more question? (and the question goes on for 30 minutes!)

“Can you just quickly tell me ……?” (and they know full well the response will take a lot longer than 5 minutes).

So what do we do?

Well we need to shift our thinking and set some boundaries on just how much free information or free services we will give away.
No one expects to walk into a supermarket and walk out again with a trolley load of goodies! Well it’s the same thing.

So what can we say to people who i) ask outright for free information or ii) who just pin you down and you realise (usually too late) that they’re trying to “borrow” your valuable resources without becoming a client?

Some things you could say would be:
· "It’s not a good time for me to discuss this right now. Would you like to briefly discuss guidelines and fees?”
· “A complete answer to your query is going to take more than 5 minutes over the phone. Would you like me to send you a proposal on this?”
· “My charge for an intial consultation is X”.
· “There’s a lot I can do to help you. Would you like to get together and work on a marketing plan?”
· “Do you have a time-line and or/budget in mind for solving this problem?”
·“I have really enjoyed talking to you, and would like to help you more. May I send you one of my brochures and a rate card:?”

Of course there is another scenario where the above responses just would not suffice and that is when a friend pins you down at a social event such as a wedding, dinner party etc. What do you say then?
Well one stock phrase that always works for me is, " I would love to help you with X. So why don't you give me a call on Monday, when it's much quieter and we won't be disturbed, and we can discuss everything then". Nine times out of ten, come Monday your friend has either completely forgotten she had a problem, or because it takes more time and effort to call back your friend usually just doesn't bother.

There are many, many more ways (and perhaps better) of responding to these types of contacts. As a service business owner, part of what we offer clients, and what they value from us is our knowledge and expertise. It’s as much a part of our services as any tangible product, so we should be treating it as such. If we don’t value our service, then no-one else will. It’s not about being stingy or hoarding, it’s about holding back information that is deemed valuable enough that rightfully should be paid for.

Copyright 2007-Vanessa Vinos

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