Last year, we made a weird decision.
We started charging for sales calls.
Before that, people who were interested in hiring Veeto would engage us in the usual ways: sometimes by email, sometimes by calling us impromptu, etc. We realized that the goal of the person contacting us was to try to solve whichever problem prompted him/her to reach out. That makes sense. That's how inbound inquiries work.
The other thing we realized was that we had our own goal every time that phone rang. We wanted to "qualify the prospect," as they say in sales parlance, which means that we simply wanted to figure out (a) if this is someone we could help and (b) if this person wanted us to help. All pretty standard stuff--this is how thousands of organizations operate.
There was nothing wrong with this mode of operation, of course, but we wondered if it could be improved.
We like experiments. So we ran one.
We put up a payment gate that required anyone who wished to speak with us to pay a small fee ($30 is what we started with, and as of this writing, it is still the price).
The stated goal of the experiment was to test whether we might better align our incentives with those of the prospect calling, to make it less of a first-date feel ("I don't know who you are, so let's just see if we like each other") and more of a get-right-down-to-business value-add.
Why did we care about this? One of the bedrock premises for Veeto is to lower transaction costs as far as possible, and this often requires finding unnecessary costs and steps to eliminate. So we figured that, instead of sticking with the same first step as thousands of other organizations--the "first date," which fundamentally adds no value for the prospect who is simply trying to solve a problem--we might be able lower transaction costs even further by getting right to the point: "How can we help? Tell us about the problem you are trying to solve, and we will give you our full, immediate opinion, in detail, about what we would do if we were in your shoes."
Our hypothesis for that first experiment was that the number of inbound inquiries would decrease immediately by X%. That's right: the metric we were measuring first to gauge the effect of this approach was a decrease in inbound inquiries. Why? Because we figured that charging a small, $30 fee would effectively scare away the tire-kickers and people who were not really serious about trying to solve their problem. And, in a sort of reverse-tragedy-of-the-commons, fewer tire-kickers meant that we could devote more time/effort to helping people who wanted/needed our help.
Fast-forward to today, and we still charge $30 to speak with us.
This is not hyperbole when I say that people have really loved this approach, and based on feedback from thousands of people who have booked one of these paid (what we call) "micro-consultations," I can summarize why in just a few bullet-points.
- The $30 fee carries a 100% satisfaction guarantee, which aligns our incentives with the caller's: we want to spend the entire call actually helping you solve your problem, not trying to "qualify" you or pull you into a sales funnel.
- At the conclusion of the call, therefore, people who choose to take notes then have (what many have referred to as) a "case playbook" the person can use to solve their problem whether they end up hiring us to handle their case or not.
- So the micro-consultation is a discreet, fully transparent way to to get our experts to weigh in on your case; and since you pay the $30 fee upfront, there is no coercive feeling that you have any further obligation to us, or vice versa, unless/until you later decide that you want us to help, at which point we present you with the option to hire us for a full case consultation.
"We believe that helping is the new selling and that customer experience is the new marketing." —David Cancel
The traditional law firm model might agree with the above quote, but for a totally different reason.
The traditional law firm model is the "billable hour." If you need help, "sure, we're happy to help!" You start spilling your guts, and the lawyer quietly starts his timer. When you finish giving the overview of your issue, an hour has gone by, and the lawyer hands you a bill for $250 on your way out the door.
So, to a lawyer whose incentives derive from that traditional law firm model, the word selling in the quote would be more synonymous with billing. Yes, I helped you by listening to you for an hour tell me about your problem. But at the conclusion of that intro session, I have already sold you one hour of my time. There is nothing wrong with this. Lawyers serve an important purpose.
But the important question to ask is which type of pricing model is a better fit for your case? Veeto and lawyers are not really competitors, because the types of cases we handle are usually not the same types of cases a lawyer would handle--especially when you consider Veeto's prices versus a lawyer's prices. In fact, depending on the (what we call) "use-case," about 20%-30% of the people who hire Veeto are themselves lawyers. The reasons for this are the same reasons most people hire Veeto, I imagine, with the sole exception that lawyers, perhaps more than anyone else, understand the importance of specialization in the legal field. Just as you would not hire a criminal lawyer to patent your invention, lawyers find value in the fact that Veeto has a a large menu of hyper-specific use-cases that we specialize in, which gives us more data and experience to bring to a prospect's problems than probably any other alternative solution, be it a lawyer or something else.
To us, the meaning of the quote is that we can spare ourselves the expense of having to actively sell to prospects by instead just helping them right out of the gates. In doing so, our expertise can speak for itself, and the person can then make the decision to hire us or not with full disclosure of the facts. That's how we would want to be treated.
When we looked around back in 2009...
We could not find this kind of service anywhere. So we built it.
We continue to improve on it through direct customer feedback, and to "market" our service by simply pulling back the curtain and showing people who are new to Veeto exactly what we do and why. The post you have just read is a prime example of that.
We charge $30 (plus a $2 payment processing fee) for a 10-minute micro-consultation call.
Let us know if we can help.