What Is a Free Consultation?
Your consultation is a free phone call or video call where you speak with a potential client and help them with one specific problem.
Generally there are two types of consults or strategy sessions that you can have:
1 – The first type is what we will be concentrating on in this article. It’s usually a 20-30 minute call that is focused on helping them clarify the issues they are struggling with and get a quick win. You are not coaching. You are not giving away everything they need to go off and do it on their own, but enough to at least get started. The the result of this call is that you leave them with a great impression and a way to get back in action towards the big goal they want.
2 – The second type of call is the quick consult. This is going to be about 10-15 minutes. These are more impromptu. Let’s say someone posted a question in a Facebook group around the topic you specialize in and you answer them. You begin going back and forth and at some point say that you can more easily explain over the phone and ask them if they have 10 minutes right now for a quick call. This is far less intimidating than asking someone to book a call with you and you are still able to follow the structure I am about to lay out below.
Naming Your Consultation
First off, don’t call your free call a free consultation!
I also don’t recommend using discovery session as I found many people are confused about what that even means. Name your consultation something enticing that pertains to the result they will get from speaking with you. Don’t be too cutesy – make it very clear to your audience what they will get and why they should have this call with you. What is in it for them? Make it a no-brainer!
For example, “Food Freedom Breakthrough Session,” “Meal Planning Strategy Call,” or “Energy Kickstart Call.” The goal of these calls is to either help your potential client gain clarity or to give them the first step or two to get started towards their goal. Names with the word “Breakthrough,” “Jumpstart”, and “Kickstart” or “Getting Started With…” or “Back on Track” with a habit are often most appealing.
Promoting Your Free Call
You’ll want to promote your free consultation everywhere. First, create a shareable link in your online scheduling platform (such as Acuity, Calendly, Book Like A Boss). Add that link to all of your social media profiles, your email signature, your lead magnet, your videos, your blog posts, and as a call to action in your social media posts.
Use it as a call to action on all the content you produce. “If you enjoyed these tips I can help you take it a step further Let’s set up your Food Freedom Breakthrough Call today. Here is a link to my calendar.” Promote it in Facebook groups where you are allowed to promote.
Create a separate landing page on your site for your free call. Ideally, you should have about 3 bullet points covering what they will learn on this call and the benefit of each of those items. For example: I offer free 30 minute Fit Body Breakthrough Sessions to help you help you remove the roadblocks that keep getting in your way so you can gain energy and reach your weight related goals. During the session you will:
Create a crystal clear vision for the life you will live in your slimmer, lighter body with more energy.
Uncover hidden food and lifestyle challenges that may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts and destroying your energy
Leave our session renewed, inspired, and ready to lose the weight you want and gain the energy you need
Include a short video (under one minute) introducing yourself and how you can help as well as a link to your calendar. Include testimonials, quotes, and case studies to create even more social proof. Creating this separate landing page helps your ideal clients immediately see the benefit of scheduling a call with you
But I Hate Selling
Now, notice that I am talking about how to position your free consult and promote it but as you’ll see SELLING isn’t really the big focus. And it shouldn’t be.
Ideally, all of your content marketing is attracting people who resonate with your message. You have an audience of people who already follow you, have checked out your website, heard you speak on video, read your blog, heard you on a podcast, and know your content pretty well.
Think about a time you have gotten on the phone with a coach or have hired a trainer or other expert to help you achieve a goal. You have more than likely stalked them online and scoped them out a bit before you’ve scheduled a call. You’ve consumed as much as their free stuff as you could find before you actually scheduled a call to speak with them. The same is also true of your potential clients who sign up for a consult with you.
A MUCH different conversation will take place when they already know what you’re about than if you had zero web presence and someone just handed them your business card and they call you, sight unseen and have absolutely no idea who you are. It would be very rare for this to happen. There is a very good chance the person who is getting on the phone with you has at least a basic understanding of you and the work you do. By scheduling this call they have raised their hand and taken the next step in the relationship with you. There is already a certain level of comfort they have with you otherwise they would not have booked a call.
They have effectively qualified themselves to a certain extent, just by booking a call with you. At this point they are not 100% qualified, we still don’t know if they are willing and able to pay but they are at least 50-75% sold on you and probably higher. Maybe they just want the free help and aren’t going to sign up with you. That happens, but it’s okay. Many will come back when they are ready too or will at least refer people to you when they encounter people inquiring about the services that you specialize in.
Also, consults are a great way to practice having conversations that lead to sales. The more you do, the more confident you become with everything you do in your business from being on camera, to having difficult conversations, to raising your prices. All of it. It is really beneficial for you to hold regular consults. Also, you’re truly finding the clients who will get the best results because you get to see where they are and if they are really a fit.
The Main Goals of Your Consult Are To:
1. Help your potential client get clarity over their situation and reassure them that they do have the power to change
2. Establish a baseline level of trust between yourself and your potential client. You’re going to help them achieve those 3 bullet points which builds trust and credibility.
3. Discover if this person is suited to become a client. Are they a good fit for your services?
You demonstrate the you care, you listen and you follow through on what the topic of your call is. If it’s a food freedom breakthrough call you are going to ask questions, listen, ask some more, and as the expert recommend something they can immediately start doing to get them on the path to where they want to go. This is the type of call we are going to break down today and be talking about today. This is the type of call that you are going to be promoting everyone and aiming to get 5, 10 consults per week. As you do more and more calls you begin to find your footing and the language that works best and then you are able to present yourself very confidently and your ability to close goes up. Will dive more into this in a second.
Structuring Your Free Call
First, prior to the call, take a minute, close your eyes and center yourself. Take a few slow, deep breaths. Imagine you are getting on the call with your ideal client and they are super excited to talk with you. Don’t worry about pitching or selling or anything else but helping them.
The fact is, even if you are nervous, your potential client is far more anxious about speaking with you. Put yourself in their shoes. They have only seen you but have never spoken with you. Dialing the phone or jumping on zoom with you is a big big step. They might be feeling awkward or uncomfortable or unsure. They have their guard up. You need to quickly diffuse all that initial tension. You don’t want to talk too much at first except to set the tone and tell them that this session is for them and whatever it is they are struggling with or have questions about. There is a good chance they are feeling a mix of nervousness, excitement, and uncertainty but they feel like they want to take action.
2. The very first thing you want to do is thank them and set the stage.
“Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to chat with me. I am happy that you signed up for this nutrition strategy session and am confident that you’ll leave this conversation with a few things you can take and put into place immediately.” How does that sound?
If you can slip in something in common or share a bit about your day to break the ice, go for it.
3. The next piece is that you want them to tell you about their current state. You may ask, “Have have things been going for you?”, “What prompted you to schedule this call?” or “Tell me about how things are for you in terms of your nutrition right now.” Let them open the floodgates and start talking. It may take you 2-3 questions to get there or they may open right up. Ask open-ended questions to get them talking about how things are now, what they’ve tried, what has gotten in their way, their frustrations, challenges, and desires.
Once the floodgates are open, your job is to listen. Pay close attention to what they say and how they say it. Take notes. Ask follow up questions. Check your understanding of things by periodically summarizing what they’ve said. “Just so I am certain that I fully understand what you’re saying, you first started noticing issues with your gut 6 months ago, you read this book, you looked into xyz program and it didn’t work for you because of abc. Is that correct, or did I miss anything?”
It’s crucial that you don’t assume anything and you always check your interpretation of the stories and events they share, especially before you give any sort of recommendation. Demonstrate empathy. “That must have been tough”, “How did that make you feel?”, “How do you think that experience affected you?”
4. Your recommendations
At this point they have talked and talked about the problem so they are present with it and now are looking for an answer. Here is where you’re going to get them those results in advance and help them with the 3 bullet point items as promised. While you’re doing so, you want to ask them more about the things they have tried that didn’t work and what was lacking for them. If they have never tried to fix the problem, you want to dig a little more to find out why they haven’t done anything about it up until now. Essentially, you want to understand what the missing ingredient is so you can speak to it and offer it to them.
If they have tried ten different solutions and none of them have worked, they are likely going to be pretty apprehensive about spending money, fearing it may be just another thing that didn’t work out. How can you position your coaching program as the missing link? What is so special about working with you that would be far different (and better) than anything else they have ever experienced?
Let them tell you what was missing. Was it not enough accountability? Was the program too confusing and complicated? What was the roadblock?
A lot of times it wasn’t their old coach or old program to blame but it was their own negative and limiting beliefs and their own mindset getting in the way.
Whether that’s true or not you aren’t going to point that out. What you’ll say is something like:
“I know it can be incredibly frustrating to try so many things and not get the results you had hoped for. It sounds like if you also had “this other thing” that would have helped. Does that sound accurate to you?”
Your prospect needs you to reassure them that they are indeed capable of fixing this problem and that there is an answer available for them. Their problem is fixable. If they had that missing piece, that would have made all the difference.
They may not have that confidence in themselves they are looking for you to reassure them that they can do it. Keep your energy high and remain positive at all times.
You are not selling to them, but you are getting them to the point where they truly believe they can get the big result they desire. You’ve shown them that you listen, you care, and you have given them real, tangible action items to get them on the right path. At this point they will probably ask how they can work with you. Let them lead the conversation and ask you about your services.
Following this format should alleviate most sales objections such as:
“I can’t afford it.”
“I need to talk to my spouse.”
“I don’t have time.”
The worst thing you can do when you do hear one of these objections is to try to fix the problem. “You can’t afford it? Let me slash my price in half!” “Let’s get your spouse on the phone” or “How about you quit your job so you have time to do my program.” Never!
All of these objections are just excuses. What they are really saying is they haven’t seen the value enough yet to make a commitment with their money, time, or effort. If they don’t see the value yet they may need to continue consuming your content and get to a comfort level where they feel ready. Sometimes it truly is not a great time and they have some sort of emergency situation they are dealing with. Usually, if that is the case they more than likely they won’t get on the phone with you in the first place. Usually it is because they are not clear enough on the value or the problem isn’t important enough for them to solve at this time.
Not every person is going to sign up to work with you while you’re on the call.
The majority of sales happen in the follow up! It takes anywhere between 8-16 touchpoints before someone will take action on your content, and even longer to hire you. Many businesses only follow up once. They don’t want to feel like a pest, but they lose potential clients who maybe just needed a bit more time before they felt ready to say yes.
The great thing is that when you have a breakthrough call and you are giving them a strategy, a tip, or an action they can take away and implement in their life right now. This gives you a legitimate reason to follow up without being salesy or a pain.
A few days after your consult, message your caller and check in. You could say something like, “Hey X, It was really awesome speaking with you the other day. I wanted to check in to see how things are going. Are there any questions that have come up since our call?”
Set a schedule to follow up again a week later. Continue to keep this person in your universe – invite them to livestreams, share resources with them, invite them to your webinar, share your latest blog post. Continue to provide value.
How Many Consults Should I Schedule?
As you do more and more consults, your comfort level will go up and so will your close ratio. If you close 3 clients out of every 10 on the phone and 4 in the follow up that means 7 out of every 10 people you had a consult with converted to a paying client. You have a 70% close rate. You can then use this percentage to figure out how many consults you need to book to close the desired number of clients.