One recent study evaluated the effectiveness of 19 million meetings.
Unorganized meetings will cost the U.S. $399 billion in 2019. Moreover, these expensive lost business hours aren’t the only negative result of improper planning.
When stuck in a meaningless meeting, 44% of respondents cited that they don’t have enough time to do the rest of their work. In addition, 43% leave feeling confused, while 38% believe bad organization of a meeting results in a loss of focus on projects.
Chances are, you know a thing or two about meetings. Do you feel stuck in an endless cycle of free consultations that cut into your profits but lead nowhere? Today, we’re sharing why professional service providers should educate prospects before they step foot into the conference room or hop on a call.
Doing so can help set expectations from the onset and clear the path for a brief and productive meeting that wastes no one’s time.
Ready to learn more? Let’s go!
Whether you’re financial planner, attorney, consultant, coach, or interior designer, there are upfront, introductory things you need your prospects to understand before you get into the nitty-gritty of why you’re there.
For instance, you may need to cover the basics of what an IRA entails before you can help prospective clients assess their level of risk tolerance. Or you may need to help prospects understand the value of estate planning with an attorney instead of doing their documents online. Or, you might need to explain your personal style and approach to decorating before you take a look at a homeowner’s space and explain how to transform it.
If you take the time to educate your prospects before you meet for a longer period of time, you can go ahead and get this information in their hands. There’s no need to waste 30 minutes with small talk. Instead, you’ll spend two to three minutes catching up, and then launch right into why you’re there.
This might mean sending an informational email, mailing a brochure, and gathering basic information in advance of a free consult. Use the time between scheduling and the meeting to cover the foundations of what you’ll expand upon later.
That way, once you are ready to begin, you can dive right into the most important information without wasting time, money, and resources, covering what everyone should already know.
Educating your prospects before a free consult eases the burden on your shoulders during the meeting. This way, you can spend the duration of your meeting expanding upon those initial points shared with your prospects and fielding queries from interested and invested listeners.
However, did you ever stop to think about how it might make life easier for the other party, as well?
In most cases, a prospect won’t know too much about your services or how you’re different. After all, that’s why they’re reaching out to you in the first place!
Even if they are familiar with you or what you do, they haven’t worked with you before. They don’t know your particular business practices and processes.
That’s where pre-meeting education can make all the difference.
When you give them information on important topics in advance, it helps them understand your position and sets their minds at ease. This way, they’re more comfortable during your meeting, which can help spur effective communication and decision making.
If they’re still unsure about your quality level and hesitant to move forward without further free consultations, it could be because they’re a little overwhelmed with their options or how to move forward. Delivering it all to them in one fell swoop (during the meeting) is enough to send even the most viable prospect reeling.
Instead, stretch out your approach and the information you share by delivering a portion of it before the longer meeting by way of email, mail, audio, video, or information gathering. This way, your prospects will be less anxious and more willing to hear the rest of what you have to say when you’re meeting in person.
An educated prospect will still have questions. The good news? The questions are more likely to be serious, meaningful, and thought-provoking.
Why is this the case? An uninformed prospect is more likely to spend the meeting confused, especially if your service is on the technical side. That means they’re half-listening and half-processing, playing catch-up along the way.
Consider the many times you sat through a monotonous and technical lecture in college. If your professor had asked you, "Do you have any questions?" at the end of the class, would you have been able to rattle off a list of them?
In reality, you’d likely sat stone-faced and blank, unable to conjure up an intelligent sentence, let alone become a participant in a Q&A session!
When you give prospects time to digest your information before you present it, you allow them to spend the entire meeting listening, instead. The processing part has already occurred.
When they’re more informed and engaged, they’re able to form clearer questions that can prompt more in-depth discussions that ultimately leads them to hiring you.
A significant part of being a professional service provider is to persuade your prospects as to why should they listen to you over another, and more importantly, why should they choose your service over another.
Asking them to trust you and commit to an hour-long meeting before you prove your worth can be a tough sell.
If you can share valuable insights and helpful tips with them before they ever commit to meeting with you, you’ll pique their interest and establish yourself as a thought leader in your space. From there, they’ll be more likely to sit down and learn more about what you can offer them.
Your first impression is a make-or-break deal. If you lead with the educational information your prospects are looking for, you’ll make it to the next step to get the meeting scheduled and have a prospect ready to hire you practically upon arriving at your office.
Does this situation sound familiar?
You give a free consultation with a prospect who seems interested. The meeting goes well, their questions are thoughtful, and they appeared to be paying very close attention, nodding along the way.
Then, you get to the details of your fee schedule. All of a sudden, an eyebrow raises, a jaw drops, and you get the feeling they just want to start packing up their things and head out.
Have you lost them?
Don’t take it as a personal offense. If someone is new to you, your services, or your industry, they may not understand why your fee schedule is like it is. Once they see the investment needed to work with you, they may even try to talk you down from it, which can leave you feeling misunderstood, under-appreciated, and frustrated.
On the upside, this does not mean you’ve lost a client or priced yourself out of a future commitment.
Yet, take this is as a valuable lesson. When you wait to explain your position and fee schedule at the meeting, you’ve lost an important chance to prove your worth.
Educating your clients beforehand helps you establish yourself as an expert in your field, highlighting your experience, your credentials, your education, and your work history. Then, when you are ready to talk numbers, your prospects will understand the hard work that goes into the services you provide.
According to one industry survey, 65% of consumers say that trust matters "a lot" when it comes to procuring professional services. It becomes even more important when client confidentiality is at stake.
For example, 90% of the survey respondents said trust was an important consideration when shopping for financial services.
How can you establish that trustworthiness within your own brand? Let all of your prospects know that they’re in good hands from Day 1. Don’t wait until you’re sitting in front of your prospect in person to make your claim.
Rather, explain how you work and what they can expect from that initial conversation, starting the very first moment they make an inquiry with you. Detail your decision making process, best business practices, reasoning, and more so that everything is as visible and transparent as possible from the get-go.
This isn’t a game of hide-and-seek. Your prospects don’t have the time, energy, or bandwidth to seek out your information on their own. Make it easy for them, and you’ll earn their trust along with a solid reputation.
Fail to perform this step? It’s only a matter of time before your prospects find another professional who is easier to work with. As the internet makes it easier for anyone to hop online and pretend to offer anything, today’s client needs to know that you’re authentic.Trust and fees often go hand-in-hand as top client considerations when choosing a company to patronize. If you can prove that you’re dependable, you’ll be one step closer to achieving financial freedom as well. In fact, studies show that almost half (49%) of customers would spend more money to partner with a company whose positive values they trust and share.
Tired of holding a free consult with no clue if it was successful or not? Fed up with prospects who only want free advice or counsel with no real intention to pay you for your time?
There’s one surefire way to change that outcome.
Don’t let weeks of radio silence build up between the time you schedule that first consultation and when everyone shows up. Instead, use it to your advantage.
Keep in close contact with your prospects as you inch closer to the free consultation. Learn their pain points and current frustrations, and explain how your service can help. Talk to them about the core differentiators that your company brings to the table and why you’re heads above the competition.
The result of this hard work? You’ll enter into a room with a ready-to-engage prospect who turns into a new paying client within minutes.
They don’t have to spend the duration of the meeting wondering what makes you so special. You’ve already told them.
By doing so, you bypass the years of hamster-wheel frustration and cash flow issues that can happen when you’re tied up on the "free consultation" carousel. They’re informed and ready to engage.
This means you’ll hear "Let me think about it and get back to you" on a less frequent basis and instead, "Let’s get started" will become the common refrain.
You know you’re qualified, capable, and the best in your field.
Do your prospects know the same? Remember that they aren’t mind readers. They won’t understand why they should use your services, what makes you the best, and the totality of what you offer unless you tell them verbatim.
Don’t wait until your first meeting to make all of these points. You have a limited amount of time, and listeners can have a shorter attention span than a goldfish.
The bottom line on why professional service providers should educate prospects before a meeting? It’s your one chance to start the relationship off on the right foot. Come across as informed and trustworthy, and you’re that much closer to engaging a new client.Want more information on how to make the shift from pointless free consults to profitable ones? Read our story and let’s connect.