GIVE-AWAY, SELL…OR BUY?!! – the importance of managing expectations


I am often asked; “How much should you be prepared to give away before you start charging for goods and services?”  In a nutshell, my advice is always:

“ Give until they get it”

In other words, give them small pieces, sufficient for them to get the point; for them to appreciate the value you offer, to understand your business, and the advantage they will gain from working with you. It is also important to manage expectations.  Agree the point when you need to start charging and make sure they understand the mutual commitment between you; you provide them with something they value and they pay you for the benefits this brings.  Don’t forget, you are in business; you are there to make money, to make a profit.

This whole concept was turned somewhat on its head last week when I had a call from the Business Growth Show. Was I interested in speaking at the next show in Swindon in July?  I always enjoy speaking and it’s great to impart some wit and wisdom relating to sales.  We talked of the date, the content (he felt it should be in some depth….and then he said,                                  “oh, by the way, there is a charge related to this”                                          Apparently, previous delegates had been disappointed with some speakers and felt they had not received good value.  The clear and obvious solution would be for them to find better speakers.  But BGS in their wisdom, had decided to charge the speakers £500+VAT for the privilege of giving away, ‘in depth’ valuable insight, for the benefit of their delegates!!  To me this is a strange way of securing a higher calibre of speaker. I have heard that a speaking opportunity can be offered as part of an exhibiting package, but never before have I heard of charging the speaker to give away their expertise!   I declined, politely.

In summary, whenever you make a sales pitch or presentation;

  • Be clear in what you are offering
  • Manage expectations on both sides
  • Be prepared to give, up to a pre-agreed point
  • Then sell

Unless you manage expectations in this way, you may well experience embarrassment or even a ‘nasty surprise’ further along the sales process.  You may even lose the business.


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