Like many of my colleagues I have various products and services I make available to my market via the Internet. Everything from a $7 report on up to contracts for one-on-one coaching ranging in the thousand, tens of thousands and beyond.
Most people understand that when they buy a low priced report they are buying a low priced report and nothing more. However, every so often there are those who believe that because they invested in an experts low priced products this automatically includes one on one time with the expert or unlimited email coaching. Some people will assume it is okay to ask the expert to review their website, blog, new information product or whatever because they bought a $10 plus information product.
Two of my most recent reports have to do with becoming an online bestseller and making your first $100 online with eReports.
With each I have had people who wanted me to review everything from their teleseminar outline, their not yet published manuscript, their eBook and/or eReport, and on and on. Usually their request is followed by, “While you’re at it, can you review my website and give me some feedback?”
The short answer is, “No.” It’s not because I don’t care about what you are doing; it’s because I honestly cannot afford to do this.
The time adds up
Imagine if you will if even a small percentage of buyers asked for this “it will only take a minute” review. Only taking a minute is usually in the neighborhood of 10 – 30 minutes when all is said and done. Multiply that by dozens of requests a day. This would be an unmanageable chunk of time out of my day. Billable time other clients are paying substantial amounts of money for. People newer to the world of doing business on the Internet are often offended when they are told no or given a fee schedule for review services. I recall one gentleman who emailed me a question that was actually easy to answer. I quickly responded with the answer. He emailed another question. I again responded to which he sent a third question.
This time I wrote, “We are now moving into consulting time. My fee is ______.” He was irate and made no effort to hide his feelings.
“I have built a six figure business by what I give away. You obviously don’t subscribe to this way of doing business,” he wrote.
“Actually I do,” I responded. “I give a lot away and I also know when to draw the line.”
He ended up apologizing. Although that was not what I was looking for I was glad he got the point.
It’s more common than most people imagine
Many of my colleagues have similar situations where someone will buy a low priced item and expect unlimited access to the expert whether it be by email or phone. Yup! We do have people who “want to pick your brain” for what they assume should take only about 15 minutes. The truth is, we are not in a position to do this without our business suffering.
Myself and all of my highly respected colleagues do all we can to always give more value than what someone pays for. Yet, there will always be the handful of people who think we should give more. The fact is, when you pay for a $10 item you are not going to get hundreds of dollars in free coaching. That’s not the way it works.
Most of us have coaching programs available in a variety of formats; email coaching, one-on-one and group coaching. Rarely, do these come with the purchase of a low priced information product.
So the next time you begin an email that begins with, “Dear (expert), I have a request that will only take a few minutes of your time…….” Stop!
Put yourself on the other side of the request. How many of these types of inquiries do you think you could handle on any given day before you had to say no?
Let the answer be the gauge of what you ask for pro bono.
It never ceases to amaze me that people ask for free advice from professionals – online and offline. How many times have you been to a cocktail party and overheard somebody asking an MD to have a look at the mole on their shoulder. I’ve worked for CPA firms for a long time, and repeatedly get asked tax questions (which I’m often not even qualified to answer!) People like freebies – ever been to Costco and seen the lines to get a little sample of cake?
I don’t think you should feel badly about explaining to people that this is not possible, that this is what you do for a living, to pay your bills. Does anyone go to a restaurant and ask for a free entree and desert because the purchased a small appetizer? (why is it my analogies relate to food? :))
You might also look at it this way: It’s your openness, your approachability and your expertise that make people seek out your help. Take that part as a compliment.
New to your blog. Your post is true and I have been on the other end of the of the one asking for someone to review my blog or look at something I had done. This is because I am a total newbie and I do not know where to turn or what to do and maybe I just need one to point me to the right resource.
Some experts have put me off but others have been so nice and suggested someone or a resource that I can use with the product and the later has been a great help for me.
It is just a newbie syndrome that goes away quickly once you start taking real action.
You always give away so much and people are better for it, but many miss the point of using your valuable, shared information in the way it’s given.
I have a blog on Turkey that I continually get people asking questions, need advice or a complete mentor program. I love helping out, but as business people, we need to know our cutoff point. With some people they will never be our client, but they will always feel free to keep asking and taking your time until you say no or that I charge for this type of help. Rarely, will an apology or gracious thanks be forthcoming.
As the wife of a physician, I REALLY related to this, Kathleen. My husband got to the point that he hated to linger at church coffee hour or go out to dinner in our small town, because patients would come up and ask him about labwork, medication questions, symptoms, or what he thought was wrong with their grandmother! The irony is that people respect you more when you value your own time.
Not only I have been struggling with that kind of behavior from more or less serious prospect clients recently, but I must admit that I have ended up feeling highly frustrated.
This post shed some light on where I’ve been missing to draw the line, and I thank you for that.
Excellent post Kathleen. Yep, I actually deal with this issue very often. I’m willing to help – to a point, then it’s coaching time. 😉
There’s enough information out there to answer most of the questions I get. Folks apparently haven’t learned about to use Google to search and find the answers to their questions. 😛
It requires us, as business owners, to remain in control of our time and to just say No…then politely point them to our coaching programs. 😉
A agree fully, sometimes people buy a bushel and expect the whole farm!
Every now and then I have the same problem you described above. Customers who purchased my low priced products come up to me and ask this and that, often times asking me to review their new website or blog.
I usually tolerate 2 easy-to-answer questions, after which I explain that I can’t answer anymore questions because buying my low-priced product does not mean free consulting. It means that me and my team will make sure they’ll get their hands on the product they’ve paid for. I then give them examples where if they buy a book in Amazon, they also can’t consult with the author for free.
It works, though some respond back with angry comments.
Well we can’t please everyone out there, can we? 🙂
Nice article and keep more coming!
Sadly, so many people have gotten obscenely frugal these days that they want ANYTHING and EVERYTHING for free. Information is STILL a product! Good, well understood information often comes with a fee.
That’s generally how the person acquires that knowledge in the first place.
Great post Kathleen!
This issue has to do with what I call the “B-Word” – Boundaries. As an energy healer who works with frequencies and resonance, I’ve helped lots of people gain confidence in setting boundaries.
The Law of Attraction tells us that like attracts like so even if you’ve mastered the art of saying “No” in your business, these boundary challengers may be showing up because there are other areas of your life where you need to exercise your boundary-setting muscles.
The thing about the Law of Attraction is that cause and effect are not always linear, so sometimes we don’t make the connections between what’s showing up in our life and its underlying cause. For instance, you may be sending out a weak boundary signal in one area of your life, with your best friend for example, but the person who shows up to deliver the message is a total stranger who emails you in your business. It’s weird how energy works that way.
I would suggest looking at other areas of your life, too. How many times have you said you cannot exercise, cook healthful meals or do something relaxing or fun because there are too many demands on your time?
How many times have you done something that was asked of you by a friend, family member, colleague or volunteer organization, and then felt resentful because you did not really want to do it — and yet could not say no?
Setting positive boundaries is a skill people lack because unconsciously, deep down you feel that you need to please others in order to be loved. But without the ability to set positive boundaries you can feel powerless and life can feel overwhelming and unpredictable.
Try re-framing the issue. In fact, setting positive boundaries is a gift that you give to yourself and others. Every time you say no to behavior that is unacceptable to you – whether it’s your own or somebody else’s — you create consistency and safety. When you let people know how you expect to be treated it is as if you are giving them a road map that clearly defines the route to arrive at mutual respect, reciprocal support and harmony.
The more you set positive boundaries the more your inner strength and personal power grow.