Whenever the subject of marketing for lawyers arises, you cannot help but touch on the topic of the free consultation. Many lawyers offer a free consultation to their prospective clients with the though being that if they “just see how much I know, they will definitely retain me”.
Have you ever felt that way? Do you offer a free consultation?
While you may have an extraordinary amount of experience and you may intimately know a specific area of the law, you probably just shot yourself in the foot with the pricing strategy of a free consultation.
There are four reasons why you should never do anything for free. (There are more reasons than this but these are the four most compelling reasons.)
People Value Things They Pay For: This is as true as the day is long. If you bill someone for your time people immediately respect it and they take it seriously. If they do not pay, they will not place a value on it. You have to set that value. If you do not, there is no way the client will value it as heavily.
Pay Equals Positioning: Are you a good lawyer or are you a great lawyer? If you are a great lawyer, you can charge $15,000 for something a good lawyer charges $5,000 to handle. Who gets to decide if you are good or great? The client. And you set the tone in his mind by positioning yourself with your upfront consultation.
Your Confidence Level Increases with Your Fees: Have you ever worked your tail off for a little bit of money? How did it feel? Well, imagine the opposite feeling. Imagine the confidence you feel when someone pays you a significant amount of money for your advice.
You Must Value Your Most Perishable Asset: You only have a limited amount of time. Once it is gone you can never get it back. If you do not “sell’ it to someone it perishes. It is up to you to make the most of it.
This video provides additional detail on this concept.
I was first introduced to the concept early in my consulting career. I always wanted to give new clients special pricing so they could see how good we were. This worked in reverse. By discounting my pricing, I set myself up as someone who had not integrity in my pricing. Ever since that moment, I started doing introductory interviews to see if a client was a good fit. I gave no advice for free. I just interviewed the prospective client. If the client was a good fit, we moved on to a formal, paid consultation.
If you give advice, you must get paid. Do not do free consultations, ever. They are harmful on many levels and for many reasons.