Easy Access Begets Wasted Time and Less-Qualified Clients

Are you easily accessible? Many a guru advise that you must be there when the client is ready to buy. They tell you the customer doesn’t want to be sold, but they love to buy. There is some validity to this business model, but it does little to support higher pricing and profitability. It does nothing to sort out the highly desirable clients from the time-vampires.

Consider instead, a business model that affords the I’m-ready-now-client with the opportunity to begin the process of becoming your client. The process should set the stage for higher fees. The client expects to pay more when they engage an expert. Clients want to believe they work with the industry-leading pro. They want to relate to others that their guy (or gal) is the best of the best.
You can create a screening process that must be completed before a prospective client may be scheduled to meet with you. Your system could include a gate-keeper who filters prospects. The gate-keeper should have a standard list of questions that are used to qualify the prospect for the initial interview with you, the expert.
You can layer it up further by having the gate-keeper conclude the pre-interview by stating they will submit the prospect’s case for your consideration and will call them back at a later date. If the prospect resists this because they feel their matter needs to be addressed immediately, the gate-keeper can offer special attention by fast-tracking their case.

Offering a free initial consult or not doesn’t preclude having a system like this. It would be easy for the gate-keeper to explain that your free initial interview requires a selection process because you cannot afford to spend your valuable time with less than serious prospects. If you charge for the initial interview, the same logic could easily be adapted. A fee for an initial interview simply adds another layer to the screening process.
Your pre-appointment interview should be mandatory due to the high demand for your attention. Prospects unwilling to complete your sorting process should be denied access to you. If you are on-tap like the keg beer available at every pub in town, it will be impossible to charge the price of a premium brew.

You may worry that this process will deter new business, to the contrary – prospects become invested by spending the time securing their appointment. Successfully completing the pre-interview system leaves them pre-disposed to engage you. Ultimately, you end up with better clients who appreciate and value you. If you see a few less time-wasters and command higher fees from those who complete your process, you will have more free time and greater income. Go forth and multiply – your income, that is.

By: Lawrence Lawler, CPA, EA, CTRS