DO YOU GET SUCKERED into clients’ stories and end up giving free advice?
 
If so, here are three tips to help you change this situation:
 
1. CHANGE YOUR MINDSET. How you think about your services is critical to your success. Think of the most successful person in your field–someone you know and admire. Now imagine walking into that person’s office and asking them to give you a discount on their services, or even an hour of their time for free. Imagine if everyone they knew did that. How successful do you think they would be then?
 
You probably can’t even conceive of asking that person for their high-value services for free. You know why? Because somewhere along the line, they created the perception their time is so valuable that people who want some of it must pay a hefty fee.
 
How did they create that perception? They raised their rates and their confidence.
 
We teach people how to treat us. We teach them what our time is worth. We do that by the way we think, speak and act. When you buy into another person’s money story (“I can’t afford you, can you just tell me…”) you are not only doing yourself a disservice but you are doing them a disservice because you are not holding them accountable to the truth of the matter: People always have money for that which they truly desire, and when we have skin in the game, we are more likely to get what we need and want.
 
It is your job to raise your standards and confidently hold space for others to do the same. We are not here for the comfort of others; we are here in service of others. There’s a big difference.
 
2. CREATE A SYSTEM AND STICK TO IT. This is called “Here’s the way we do things around here.” There’s a gatekeeper who answers the phone, explains how we do things around here, takes payment and then schedules an appointment. Perhaps the prospective client is required to fill out an intake form first before he or she can meet with you.
 
If you don’t have a gatekeeper, consider how you can automate a process by requiring prospective clients to complete an online assessment before they (automatically through a calendaring system) schedule time to speak with you.
 
There are all kinds of ways to create processes and systems. You must create one that works for you. These processes are critical for a couple of key reasons: 1) They teach people how to treat us (sound familiar?), and 2) They make the prospective client feel good–like someone is in charge and knows what to do next. Which leads me to the next tip…
 
3. CONTROL THE CLIENT. This is a lesson I learned from one of my mentors, Mr. Mac. Mr. Mac has been a practicing attorney since before The Florida Bar was founded in 1950. He’s one of the most respected lawyers I’ve ever known and a pillar of the community. I had the good fortune of being his intern for a little while before he finally retired from the practice of law (You can find him now working to repair the roof on his barn, fishing gators out of his cement pond and playing with his grandchildren).
 
Anyway, Mr. Mac taught me the importance of client control in any matter. Clients come to us (regardless of our area of expertise) because they believe we can help them solve their problem. They are actively seeking a person who is a confident problem solver, an expert, SOMEONE WHO WILL TELL THEM WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE AND HELP THEM DO IT.
 
If you are that person, you need to immediately seize control of the conversation. You do this by having a plan in place and instructing them according to the plan (“I need you to fill out this form, gather these documents, send me this material, etc.”). Tell them what they need to do to help you do your job.
 
Also, ask a lot of questions. Attorneys are particularly good at leading questions, but all too often, we only reserve those for trial. What is a leading question? It is a question design to elicit a particular type of answer. Use pointed questions to get to the heart of the matter and stop those stories short.
 
Once you get what you need, be ready with your “next steps” language. “Okay, that sounds good, here are the next steps…”
 
When you are in control of the meeting, you are in control of the narrative. Clients feel confident that you’ve got this and they don’t need to worry any more. The minute you get wishy-washy on any part of your process, including slipping into a negotiation of your fees, you’ve conveyed to the client that you are a little less sure. You have then given rise to doubt. Can they trust you to hold firm for them, to stand up for their best interests, if you won’t even hold firm for you?
 
If you are getting suckered into other peoples’ stories and giving free advice, stop it. Stop it, now. Instead, stand up for yourself and for them, and teach them the importance of expecting the best and receiving it.
If you’d like help to build your confidence, start charging what you are truly worth, and formulating systems and procedures to help you create a more profitable business, go here to schedule a call with me.

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