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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

IT Sales: No More Free Consultations

Although a large part of IT sales is providing incentives to gain clients and keep your best customers, you have to be sure your business does not become too heavy on free consultations. Eventually you have to move from the spirit of the sales call to the actual sales.

Your initial sales call is not about proving to your client that you are smart and have a great deal of technical expertise or many certifications; the sales call is your opportunity to test client compatibility so you can move to the next phase of the IT sales process.

Your first order of business is to determine if the prospect is someone you can see you and your company working with long-term. Your prospect should read like other clients with which you’ve had success. Because you’ve done all the leg-work and asked questions about the size of the client’s company and his platform, your next stop in the IT sales plan is to make sure his personality fits your style and that the chemistry is right.

It pays off in the long run to spend about an hour discussing needs with a fairly good-sized small business opportunity and giving away some degree of free advice. But you should be prepared to stop that advice short and get to the meat of the IT sales drive – shifting the focus of the discussion towards hiring your consulting firm to perform an audit or a technology assessment.


If you keep your services free for too long, you will eventually run out of resources. Many small businesses will continue to take advantage of you if you continue to offer them free services and will move farther and farther away from a sale.


The best way to stop yourself from giving away free services is to learn as much about your client and what support you can offer him. Find out your client’s hot buttons well before the initial sales call and know how you will solve his problems. Be prepared to offer discounted and abbreviated services in order to captivate your client, but by no means guarantee him a completely free service.

If you think there may be long-term potential, and not just an immediate need, you can certainly afford to offer an hour of your expertise for free. But don’t decide to give away your time for free until you learn everything you can about each client’s specific needs.

Blogged By: Computer Consulting 101