Author Topic: How do you handle consults?  (Read 2652 times)

Christy

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How do you handle consults?
« on: August 07, 2013, 08:42:04 AM »
Hi!

I always offer my prospective clients a free consult to learn more about me and what I can offer.  I ALSO do paid consults, where I can teach providers how to enroll in ins plans, how to do their billing etc...

I am meeting with a client about an hour away for a consult (free.) I have a feeling that she wants to pick my brain about enrolling in ins (who to contact, what their pay rates are, etc....) She is a brand new provider.

I definitely don't want to give away my hard earned info for *free.* If the consult starts switching gears from learning about me to asking specific questions about ins rates/companies, etc.. how can I tactfully switch gears and turn it into a "paid" consult?

It feels odd to say "hey, you need to pay me for this info!" :o


tallmanusa

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Re: How do you handle consults?
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2013, 09:12:53 AM »
I think " free " consults are a bad idea. You will be surprised how many people want free advise, but have no intentions to hire you.

Christy

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Re: How do you handle consults?
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2013, 09:17:59 AM »
tallman- I agree with what you are saying- but in order to hire me, the client would naturally want to meet me and learn more about me.... I could not charge for that....I am anticipating the gear switch from "getting to know you" to "what does she know and will tell me for free!"

rdmoore2003

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Re: How do you handle consults?
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2013, 09:20:05 AM »
since you do both, free and charged consults, I would start with the free consult information.  When and if she gets outside of that, just let her know that getting into more detailed information is just that,,,more detailed and takes more time which runs into the charged consult.  remember she is a new provider and no matter what she will end up paying someone, if you make a good impression she will remember
Regina

Christy

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Re: How do you handle consults?
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2013, 09:22:22 AM »
thanks, Regina! I was thinking the same-   what do you all think of me deducting the cost of the consult from my set up fee if they decide to hire me?

tallmanusa

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Re: How do you handle consults?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2013, 09:25:48 AM »
If you give out free consults, that is what you would be doing, driving around and would have to panhandle for the gas money.
You must "qualify" the prospects before meeting them. Are they interested in outsourcing the billing? Are they willing to pay for the consult? What is it they are looking for?
Every business qualifies prospects, otherwise they would go out of business.

Christy

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Re: How do you handle consults?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2013, 10:07:40 AM »
Quote
Every business qualifies prospects, otherwise they would go out of business.


I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but not this. I am a very small operation and my clients are also small, sole proprietors for the most part. Almost all of my business is generated by word of mouth/referral, so the more people I meet, the more business I will generate.

I have met with lots of insurance agents wanting me to use them for my business ins, and they were more than willing to make long drives to see me. And I got a free education about business ins to boot!

So every business is very different regarding how they consult with business prospects..

DMK

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Re: How do you handle consults?
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2013, 10:32:10 AM »
You might start with a "menu" of what your free consult consists of, then have a menu of your paid consult services.  And yes, deducting or discounting your paid consult fee, when they hire you, is great incentive.  It shows your information has value for them, and their business has value for you.  Best of luck!

PMRNC

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Re: How do you handle consults?
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2013, 01:06:21 PM »
I agree with the others. Indeed consult with a potential client for free. Maybe in your materials or an email in confirming the consult you can list what is included.

Tip:   DO not teach any provider to do their own billing  ??? ::)  Instead you give them the benefits of outsourcing to you. They won't find another company to come in and teach them anyway.
Linda Walker
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Christy

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Re: How do you handle consults?
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2013, 03:59:28 PM »
thanks for the encouragement, DMK!!!

[quoteTip:   DO not teach any provider to do their own billing  ??? ::)  Instead you give them the benefits of outsourcing to you. They won't find another company to come in and teach them anyway.][/quote]

Linda- why not?  My whole marketing strategy is flexibility I am SO not the salesperson type- I have taught billing to groups of alternative healing providers and generated business from it. When the provider meets me, s/he will learn the benefits of outsourcing, but some new providers just can't afford it. So they can pay me to learn and happily refer me to others. I live in a small town and my name is really starting to get out there..

and like you, I don't want to be a "biller" forever- my goal is to eventually do all consulting- so this is getting my feet wet as well  ;D


and EXACTLY- they WON"T find another company to come in and teach them  ;)

Billergirlnyc

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Re: How do you handle consults?
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2013, 09:03:42 PM »
When I do consulting it's never truly for "free". I do just like lawyers, software companies and their demos, etc do. I offer a teaser. I tend to make them talk more about their business than I do about mines, that way I can pinpoint their issues and tell them how I can help, or at least what they need to do to get where they claim they want to be. I don't give-up free detailed information. I use the method my attorney used on me with their "free" 1 hour consult, haha, they gave me GENERALS, so I do the same and it works for me. You're in business and yes you want to be "nice" but you don't have to help them correct their issues for free. Even if you end-up consulting and training you may still find clients who keep calling on you because either their staff isn't grasping it, don't care, or they truly need your full service, just be open to it. I train staff all the time and still end-up doing the billing for clients who are so deep into a mess that it's the only choice to get them on the right path financially.

I also agree you need to be mindful of potential clients and clients who just aren't going to generate anything for you. I travel to meet potential clients but I also need to be sure I can help them. I think this is what others mean when they say qualify your clients. It's as simple as asking a few basic questions this way no one wastes their time.  Some doctors are habitual and abusive when it comes to consultants; in that they're ALWAYS looking to outsource or hire a consultant, when in reality they're only looking for free info. So just be mindful of this. When a doctor tells me they can't "afford" to outsource and want the bottom of the barrel prices for consulting I just walk away. If they're not willing to let me see why they can't afford to outsource or pay me a competitive rate for consulting, then it's not worth it for either of us. You'd be surprised how many can afford your services they just THINK they can't. It's up to you to learn how they can - IMO.

Also, I'd like to add another bit of advise, never take the approach that you're not a "salesperson" type. All of us are. If you're a small business and are the one closing deals, then guess what? You're a salesperson. I don't mean in the traditional sense, but what I do mean is, even if you hire someone else to do marketing and sales for you, only YOU can sell your services, and if you plan on consulting then you're going to have to learn to embrace that. Consulting is all about selling your set of skills and expertise and you're up against people who already embrace that they're salespeople at the end of the day. Even the richest singers are salespeople and again not in the "traditional" sense but they're selling their talents and if they didn't do it well no one would buy their music, etc and so on. I learned this early on. I loathed selling or marketing but I soon realized that I wouldn't stay in business if I didn't embrace that half of my time would be spent on being the marketing and salesperson for my business. The good thing with healthcare is once your name gets out as being good at what you do, your clients will happily refer you to their peers and the selling isn't as hard but you still need to embrace closing deals even as a consultant.


« Last Edit: August 07, 2013, 09:10:46 PM by Billergirlnyc »
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~Dalia, CPC, CPC-H, RHIT.

tallmanusa

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Re: How do you handle consults?
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2013, 06:59:05 AM »
That was a very well written piece Billergirl.
Thanks.

Christy

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Re: How do you handle consults?
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2013, 11:16:24 AM »
thanks for the thoughtful response, billergirl! Very helpful!

so yes, I am not looking to give anything "for free," that's why I posted for advice on the matter. I am anticipating the meeting and how it will probably go and the gear shift from "getting to know you" to "tell me this, tell me that!"

All of my other consults have been local, so it's always been easy to schedule a paid follow up consult. I think I am going to learn from my mistake and do the freebie part and listen, listen, listen like Billergirl said and schedule a paid follow up consult if desired by the client....

learning as I go along from both experience and a LOT of help from this board!

thanks, all! ;D