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I replied to Liz’s comments above:
That’s fabulous Liz and very practical.
There’s a natural tendency to want to show off our knowledge during these initial meetings and to evidence that we really know what we’re doing by giving away the crown jewels – being the key advice that the client would be willing to pay for.
In some cases our experience, knowledge and previous research MIGHT allow us to give that advice in 5 minutes after hearing all we need to know about the PROSPECT’s situation and affairs. In so doing we often make assumptions about the background and their needs.
Your approach is much better and more profitable.
When I was in practice I tried to adopt a similar approach to yours. A couple of additional thoughts in this regard.
Keep initial meetings to 30 mins if fees have yet to be discussed. Set a timer on your phone if you work alone so that it buzzes you (with an urgent client call that you need to resolve. The prospect should understand that clients come first – not prospects. Good impression to give.)
Use your camera phone to copy passport and utility bills without delay.
Adopt a form of engagement letters/terms of business you can issue within a few minutes especially for the shorter/simpler enquiries.
Make your own decision as to how much time you will devote to non-client enquiries from prospects. “Sorry, I must go as I have some urgent client matters that I need to get done today. Happy to help you further if you want some formal advice and agree to pay my fees. We could go to the next stage for £200 plus VAT – I can send you an invoice and payment details if you’d like.” (or £500/£900 or whatever)