How to Set Boundaries with Your Prospects
I often get the question, “Fabienne, how do I deal with prospects or people who want my stuff, but aren’t willing to pay for my services?”
I have experience with that. I’ve been doing this for about 12 years now and this has happened to me in the past, especially with prospects who come to hear me speak. I get off the stage and when greeting attendees I often hear, “So, I wonder if you can help me with (fill in the blank.) Here I’ve just spent an hour and a half or sometimes three hours on stage, giving the best of my best stuff, and yet there’s this boundary that some people don’t always understand.
I’m not judging because I’ve done this myself too. I remember going to lunch with one of my friends many years ago in New York City and I asked, “Who do you use for this and who do you use for that?” It was the wrong thing to do. So, let me share with you how best to handle it.
The very first thing that you want to do is let people know on your website that there is an investment in working with you. I know that sounds simple, but not everyone does this. A lot of people seem to think that it’s free. I have client in Australia who has been giving away content for so many years for almost nothing and the minute she started charging a little bit more, people started getting angry―it’s the people who have been getting free stuff for a long time that have a hard time.
Then there are people who will try to pick your brain (like what happened in the example I just gave.) Here’s my elegant answer, “That’s a great question. That’s exactly what I talk about when I work privately with someone. Let me know if you ever want to chat about working together.” That’s all you have to say. It immediately creates a boundary and they get it. They know inside that they’re just trying to pick at you and get something for free.
Another way to get around that is refer them to your free content. give a lot of free content online, on video training series, articles, blogs, on facebook, on teleseminars. I’m constantly giving free content. So when somebody tries to push some boundaries, I simply say, “You know what, there is so much of my free content online. Why don’t you go to Google and do a search for Fabienne Fredrickson or go to my Facebook fan page. You’ll see so much stuff there.”
Then there’s one last bonus final tip. This is an example of whyI actually stopped giving free consultations many years ago. Here I was, living in New York City and I was listed on some business coaching directory and I got a call from this guy, who shall remain unnamed. He said, “I see that you give a free consultation. I’m interested in hiring you,” and so we set it up because that’s what I was offering―a one-hour free consultation.
I cringe just thinking about it now.I gave him the entire consultation, but he kept asking me questions throughout our time together. This really shouldn’t have been called a consultation because it was supposed to be more of a “get acquainted” session to see if I could help him. Instead, he was grilling me.
Then I found out, because word travels always. He had called every single business coach on that directory and grilled them all for a full hour. Now, I got the last laugh because eventually he ended up working with me and he got good value. I think he recognized that, but the point is to no longer offer free consultations. I personally don’t believe in them. I believe that when you tell people it’s a free consultation, either they will know that there’s going to be a catch, or they will think that you are available for grilling.
Instead, I believe in creating a space.I call it a “get acquainted” session to find out if it makes sense to work together. Whatever it is that you call it, my advice would be, don’t call it the free consultation.
So those are all ways of dealing with people who seem interested in working with you, but aren’t willing to invest, whether it’s for your product or for your service. Refer them to your free content and say, “Listen, when it feels right and you’re ready, just raise your hand let’s see about working together.” That’s worked very well. It’s helped me stay in my truth and feel honored and it also honors where they are if they’re not ready quite yet.
Your Client Attraction Assignment
Your assignment this week is to start putting some of these boundaries in place, so that you don’t feel like people are getting too much from you when you’re not willing to give it. Protect your time, your content and your worth. Your prospects will respect you for it.