Are Your Free Consult Calls Converting Into Clients?

When it comes to getting new clients, high-touch always wins out over high tech. Especially when you are in the start-up stage of your business or you simply don’t have a large audience.

And the conversion rates speak for themselves. Even a brand-new coach, consultant, or service provider could see one-out-of-four phone calls translate into a paying client. That’s a 25% conversion rate. When you compare that to the standard 1-2% of your email list converting into clients with a traditional online launch, it’s easy to see that your energy may be best spent picking up the phone.

The challenge? Actually knowing how to have calls convert into clients (without feeling like a sleazy salesperson).

Without a real understanding of how this call fits into your Customer Journey, it’s really easy for these calls to quickly become an exercise in potential clients just picking your brain.

And that’s why so many entrepreneurs become frustrated! They are constantly spending time on the phone, feeling like they are having fantastic conversations, but not seeing a ROI in real paying clients.

Wondering what’s happening? Here are 5 reasons why your calls aren’t converting into clients:

#1: Without a Solid Agenda, The Call Goes Off The Rails.

Too often we jump on the call with a new potential client only to realize a few minutes in that the client has taken control of the conversation. You’ve likely been in this exact situation if you’ve ever had a hard time getting off the phone with this potential client, or found that the roles were completely reversed: instead of you interviewing them, they were interviewing you.

While you do want to provide value during this complimentary call, it should not be a free-for-all where they get to extract every possible piece of advice from you in 30 minutes.

[clickToTweet tweet=”A great consult call shouldn’t be a free-for-all brain-picking session!” quote=”A great consult call shouldn’t be a free-for-all brain-picking session!” theme=”style1″]

Remember they are coming to you for a reason – they need your experience and expertise. They need real support.

The only way to know what kind of support they actually need isn’t to just answer every single question they can throw at you like a crazy game of Jeopardy.

It’s to first understand their current experience and specific situation. And the best way to do this is by having a clear structure for your call, that helps you to ask the right questions, so you can better understand where they’re coming from.

Remember – this call isn’t about them getting a ton of free information from you, or you proving how much you know about your specific topic. It’s about coming to understand how you can best serve them, then helping them to take the next step forward.

#2: You Give So Much, They Feel Their Problem is Now Solved.

We can’t help it. We want to give give give.

But the challenge that comes up from giving so much? When we allow this call to become a brain-picking session, often the potential client finishes the call feeling like all of their questions were answered!

But they likely weren’t questions about working with you.

And they weren’t questions about how they can really get from where they are currently stuck to where they ultimately want to be.

Their questions were likely around the most immediate and pressing symptom of whatever problem they’re facing. And when they spend the entire call trying to figure out how to overcome this one little symptom, they assume that they are getting exactly what they need to solve the problem completely!

If they think you just gave them all the answers – they won’t see why they still need your help!

But you and I know that what they’re asking about is just a symptom. And we know that our answers might help them out temporarily, they might help them take the next baby step, but really they’re nothing more than a Band-Aid. Once they overcome this initial challenge, they will be right back where they started.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Don’t let your free consult calls become a Band-Aid solution!” quote=”Don’t let your free consult calls become a Band-Aid solution!” theme=”style1″]

Your job isn’t just to answer all the questions during this call. It’s to educate them and help them see not only the bigger picture… but the real scope of what it will take to get from point A to point B.

If they don’t understand the difference between the symptom they are experiencing now and the root cause of the problem, they will assume they have what they need to solve it all.

If you want to wrap up the call with an actual paying client on the other side, you’ve got to help them see where they are in relation to where they want to be.

#3: The Invitation To Work With You is a Big Surprise.

This is especially problematic in the coaching world. Everyone offers a free clarity call, or free strategy call, or free coaching call… but there is no understanding for the potential client going into that call, especially for someone who is new to the coaching world, that this is really a sales call.

When you’re on the other side of the conversation, just someone who is looking for answers and for the next step, it can feel like a real bait-and-switch to have the conversation turned from free coaching into signing up for a coaching package.

That’s one reason it’s so important to both talk to the right people {who are actually ready to make this kind of decision} and set the right expectations. In fact, even when I was just getting my business started, I made these calls by invitation only.

That’s right – By. Invitation. Only.

Not because I didn’t want to talk to people! But because I wanted to make sure that they were at the right stage of their Customer Journey to make an educated decision about working with me. And the best way to screen potential clients is as simple as an application.

The application is the beginning of the conversation with me that sets the expectations and positions the value for this call. I never want to have someone on the phone who is taken by surprise when I tell them I think they would be a perfect fit for a program or service.

#4: Sticker Shock When They Don’t Know How You Work.

Something you have to consider when offering a free consult or call with people is they may or may not understand your industry. Which means they may or may not have an idea of how much they would actually be paying to work with someone like you.

There’s nothing worse than getting on the phone, having a great conversation with someone, and then when you tell them about how you work and how much it’s going to cost, their immediate response is “That’s too expensive!”

Chances are, they feel that it’s too expensive because they didn’t know what to expect. They don’t have a frame of reference. And they likely don’t really understand the value that your work provides.

[clickToTweet tweet=”If you’re hearing that you’re too expensive on free consult calls, it’s time to turn it around!” quote=”If you’re hearing that you’re too expensive on free consult calls, it’s time to turn it around!” theme=”style1″]

This doesn’t mean that they should be out there price-shopping you against others in your industry, however it is helpful when they have a general idea or price range in mind.

Positioning the value of what you offer is essential. I always assume that the potential client hasn’t worked with someone like me in the past, which means the burden of positioning the value of my work is 100% mine.

I have to understand what they have spent in the past to solve this particular problem. I have to have an understanding of the potential alternatives they could be looking at. All of this helps ME to ask the right questions, understand where they are on this journey, and help them see the real value of what I offer.

#5: Focus on a Hard Sell Instead of Matchmaking.

This is my number one pet peeve looking for new service providers: I really have no idea how they work, what price range we’re talking about, or what to expect going into a free consult.

And because I have no idea what to expect, it’s easy for these calls to turn into a Hard Sell. This is a very uncomfortable situation for most potential clients, because as we go into higher price point programs or services, we feel like we’re being pressured into making an un-educated decision.

Consider this – When my husband and I decided to join a local gym, we took a month to do the research and check out our options before committing to a monthly membership. I talked with my husband before I spent $500 on a new chair for our living room. There comes a point where you are no longer talking about impulse purchases.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Want to get more clients? Don’t treat your services like impulse purchases.” quote=”Want to get more clients? Don’t treat your services like impulse purchases.” theme=”style1″]

No matter what kind of service provider you are, you want your clients to feel confident taking the next step forward. When they feel confident in hiring you, your work starts together on a great note. They are excited to get started. They feel like they made a good investment.

But when your potential client don’t feel like they’re making an educated decision (or the excitement from the call wears off and reality sets in), often they will find themselves feeling unsure of their decision. They may even feel some buyer’s remorse. And starting a relationship this way is stacking the odds against you. It creates the challenge of trying to prove your worth again and again before you have even had an opportunity to really get started.

It’s so much easier to convert a new client when they have already gotten to Know, Like, and Trust you, are familiar with your work, and have an understanding of your offerings.

Yes, this means you’ll do more work up front before you ever get on the phone with someone. You’ll deliver value and showcase your expertise, usually through amazing free content.

But the biggest plus to this approach? Your conversations are no longer hard sales conversations. The person on the other side is already interested in working with you and has enough information to make an educated decision. The call is now simply matchmaking, giving you both an opportunity to make sure it’s a win-win all around.

Talk to me! Have you ever struggled to get clients when offering free calls? Share in the comments below!