Why You Should Give Out Free Advice

August 24th, 2007 by kevin

Say you’re an experienced accountant, hungrily looking for new clients. Sure, you can start cold-calling people out of the phone book or asking current clients for referrals, but these methodologies are so… bleh!.

How about this: Try giving free advice to potential clients.

A real-life example:

Our company accountant, Dave, informed us that he gained some of his most profitable and recurring clients by casually giving out free accounting advice in nearly any social situation (parties, business outings, in line at the grocery store).

So, potential client Patty asks about how to fill out Tax Form 101-343-B, and he’d tell her exactly what she needed to know. However, rather than filling out the form herself, Patty ends up calling up accountant Dave and paying him to do it.

What?! How does this work?!

By being friendly and giving free advice, accountant Dave is inadvertently telling Patty that he is knowledgeable, friendly, and, above all, that he cares about Patty’s interests and success. It’s a pretty sweet deal for everyone.

Consider the alternative…

Accountant Greedy McGreederton is at a party and potential client Patty politely asks him how to calculate the returns on Tax Form 132-232-A. “It’s a difficult process – you better come see me during business hours and I’ll fill it out for you!” explains McGreederton. Patty immediately thinks to herself, “This lame-o doesn’t think I can fill out a simple tax form… he just wants my money!” So, what does Patty not do? That’s right, she doesn’t seek McGreederton’s services.

Plus, you have Psychology on your side

Straight out of Robert Cialdini’s “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” comes the rule of Reciprocation:

“The impressive aspect of the rule for reciprocation and the sense of obligation that goes with it is its pervasiveness in human culture…

Each of us has been taught to live up to the rule, and each of us knows about the social sanctions and derisions applied to anyone who violates it. The labels we assign to such a person are loaded with negativity–moocher, ingrate, welsher.
Because there is a general distaste for those who take and make no effort to give in return, we often go to great lengths to avoid being considered one of their number.”

Giving out free advice will improve your business.