All talk, no pay (About those free strategy calls)


You see it everywhere:


But you don’t book it. You don’t click. Because you just know it’s not going to be “free”. There’s going to be some big pitch coming at the end.

Now maybe you have an offer for a free call yourself. And maybe you have others taking advantage of that free call. After all, that’s what you’re offering.

But whether or not you put in a pitch for your services at the end of the call, you’re finding a very large majority of people don’t end up buying.

So, what can you do?

First, see the call as part of the cost of doing business.

Don’t stress too much about the fact that you’re giving away your time. It could be a necessary part of your business (depending on your business model).

However, there are some ways that you could make those people appreciate you more.

Narrow your message.

That means working out who you want to talk to. If you have vague messaging: “we help everyone to build their dreams”, then don’t be surprised if a whole lot of dreamy people show up for free drinks.

Qualify them ahead of time

By setting expectations, you can attract more potential buyers and turn away more of the people who just want free one-on-one advice.

But how do you qualify them? It’s pretty easy these days, using a questionnaire.

If you use a scheduling tool like Calendly or ScheduleOnce, you can add some questions, such as these:

Why would you like to set aside time to talk?

This question sets a small agenda beyond “let’s have a chat”. You could get a little more direct if you wanted:

What made you reach out for help?

This question makes it clear that there is a potential client/service provider arrangement here.

You could go further with your input questionnaire, asking questions about budget, priorities and how soon they can start working with you.

But it’s a delicate balance. You don’t want to drive away the right people, or make the barrier too high for them even to speak to you (unless you’ve got a packed calendar already).

Tips with intake questionnaires

Don’t make all the questions “Required”. In general, people who give you better answers on optional questions are better candidates for working with you.

Make the first question (after the name) easy to answer. This is something I’ve learnt from surveys that ask me to think too hard early on, with a long-form elaborate answer to a very deep question. If you ask the deep questions, don’t ask them first.

Send an agenda when they complete the questionnaire. Once again, this is a courteous way of letting them know that your time is valuable … and so is theirs. Your agenda can be very brief. It could say: “We’re going to discuss where you are right now, where you’d like to be, and what gaps you are seeing at the moment that are stopping you getting there.”

Here is a chance to say: “At the end of our meeting, I’ll make some recommendations on what you could do to move forward. Does that sound good to you?”

Save you (and them) from giving away a lot of “free” time

There’s nothing better than having well-qualified leads knocking on your door. Having a system in place to help them have clear expectations when they meet you. With some intake questions, you can make it easier on yourself, as a lot of time is wasted on setting up meetings, as well as holding meetings that have no real direction.

Anthony English helps entrepreneurs to build the business acumen they need, so that they can get their services to more clients. Learn more about Anthony at

Author: Anthony English

There is no magic wand for starting a business and being successful. This is the risk that can make starting a venture intimidating and risk can stop someone from progressing or even starting. By breaking down the process of starting and growing a business into simple steps, I give first timers the direction in which to go, so they don't get overwhelmed.

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