3 Reasons Why That 'Free Consultation' Is a Losing Strategy for Entrepreneurs

Even a token charge for an initial consultation tells you who is serious about what you're offering.

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By Kimanzi Constable

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Absorbing your free content is one way that potential new customers make their buying decision. They're not sure if you're worth the investment, so they base their decision on how helpful is the free content. In the online world, we deliver this free content in the form of blogs, podcasts and videos.

This content brings in new leads, establishes authority and is a good testing ground for new product ideas. This free content can be so effective that people reach out to you directly.

They learned something new that would help their business, so they naturally have questions. They ask to get on a "quick call" or ask you questions. You might even offer a free consultation call with your programs or services. Either way, these calls, or any amount of excess time spent answering questions for free, is hurting your business and life.

Related: When You Should Work for Free (Yes, Seriously)

Your goal is to always offer value, but there comes a point where you've gone from being helpful to coaching someone for free. Here are three reasons why you should stop giving away your expertise for free.

1. People don't value something as much when they get it for free.

People don't respect something as much when it's free because they don't have "skin in the game." Besides the money, there's an important psychological principle happening. If someone is going to chase a dream, or make a big change in their business, they have to change their mindset. A free session will not change their mindset.

When someone who doesn't have disposable income musters up a few bucks to learn something important to their business, they will take action. That's a significant shift in their mind. In their mind they've "earned this" and get committed.

We get free content everyday in the form of blogs, podcasts and videos. If we want to know how to build a business, the information is all around us. Yet, many are stuck right now. Why is that? A small investment of money helps you focus since you've invested in getting help.

2. Your time is your most valuable resource.

Experts will tell you to offer a free consultation call, the premise being if someone wants to hire you, that call will give him or her the assurance they need. I see their point but disagree.

These calls are usually given to someone who's not in the financial position to afford your services right now, but would love the free advice. In the end, it's not the best use of your time.

You want to qualify your calls because those calls take up a valuable resource: your time. Time is the only resource you'll never get back. Qualifying these calls also separates those who are serious from those who aren't.

Your business should fit into your life, not your life into your business. The life part has to come first. If you spend too much of your time working on your business, what you've actually created is a job you own.

Related: How to Stop Offering Free Advice and Make the Sale

3. You're lessening the value of what you sell.

When you constantly give away your expertise for free, there will be no incentive for anyone to pay for it. Scarcity is a principle that successful entrepreneurs use to establish the value of their services.

I'm not telling you to charge $200 an hour for a consultation call. What I am saying is that when someone has skin in the game, they're invested and are likely to take action on what you teach them. You can use a service like Clarity and charge a small amount, or tell people it costs $10 for a 30-minute consultation session. The point of this isn't to make money.

Charging a small amount for these calls is not unreasonable, and not out of most budgets. You can record these calls through a service like Free Conference call, and send the recording to them afterward so they can work on what you talked about. Everyone wins in that scenario.

If they tell you they can't afford it, direct them to other free content that could answer their questions. Giving away your expertise for free isn't fair to your paid clients.

Our goal as entrepreneurs is to serve and add value to our audience, but we have to remember this is a business. If your business is going to grow, you have to be smart with where you invest your time. As hard as it can be, you have to learn how to say "no'' to giving away your expertise for free.

Related: Grant Cardone on Debunking the Price Myth

Kimanzi Constable

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Content Marketing Strategist

Kimanzi Constable is an author of four books and has been published in over 80 publications and magazines. He is the co-founder of Results Global Impact Consulting. He teaches businesses modern content strategies. Join him at RGIC.

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