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Free consultation

Does it diminish a consultant's value to offer services for free? 
The answer partly depends on the situation. But there are many times that a "free consultation" is really just a different way of making a sales call.

Suppose a public relations person approaches you and wants to come in and show you her work (sales call). Would you set up an appointment? Most of us wouldn't. But if she calls and offers a "free consultation" to discuss a P.R. strategy for your company, would you see her? It can be a good way to get a foot in the door.

Of course, when you're the one offering the free consultation, the trick lies in making the sale. You need to avoid those people who won't hire you no matter how great you are. With those whom you feel might hire you, tantalize them without giving away more than you need to. 
Brain Trust contributor: Author of How To Set Your Fees And Get Them
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