A big mistake many new consultants make is replying to toxic questions from clients too quickly.
Why toxic? I call them toxic because if you answer them too quickly they can be the demise of your project – even before you get started.
Two of the most common questions that clients ask consultants are:
- How long will it take to complete?
- How much will it cost?
Innocent as they may seem…they are actually quite loaded.
I’m not saying your client is doing anything wrong. On the contrary, I’d ask the same question if I was in their shoes.
Hold Them Horses
Don’t answer just yet.
While you might feel that failure to answer these questions right away shows a lack of confidence and knowledge…in fact, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Yes, I know. That may be counterintuitive – but it is the case.
Walking Through An Example
Let’s say you rush to answer your consulting client’s question. You blurt out “It’ll take 3-4 weeks and I don’t think it’ll cost too much. Maybe $10,000 or so.” No biggie, right? Wrong.
When you leave that meeting you start to realize there’s no way you can finish that project in one month. You have already committed to another project. And to do the job properly you’ll need to pay your cousin Joe to get his help. Damn, forgot to add that factor into the equation.
How to Handle It
Your best course of action is to tell your client that you’ll review all the information and get back to them very soon. Ideally tell them you’ll be in touch the very next day.
This allows you to regroup your thoughts. Review your schedule. Go through the budget and work out the best way to charge and proceed with the project.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a day to get back to your client.
When you reply however, avoid giving just a general timeline and fee. Be sure to outline some of the notes from your meeting and how the client’s investment will provide them with the results they are looking for.
So next time when you’re feeling pressured to answer your client…chill out. Take a minute to breath and be sure you’ve got all the facts before you commit to a timeline and budget.