In response to the thread http://www.blackhatworld.com/blackhat-seo/black-hat-seo/658287-consultations.html#post6668183, I thought I would offer some insight as to how I handle consultations on a face to face basis. Typically a client does not know what he wants from you, he just knows that he is in deep sneakers when it comes to our industry and is looking for help. The average person thinks that what we do is a little mystical and that can be both good and bad so be sure to be careful in your conversation with the client. First and foremost I let the client know that I am a professional and am unable to work for free. I get the guy that asks me casually if I could help them out and my answer is almost always ?I do that for a living and would be glad to set up an appointment after getting some basic information?. That chases away the freeloader that thinks I hang out on FaceBook all day long and turns the person that is serious about their online situation into a potential client. During the appointment setting procedure I am upfront as to my fees. I'm not inexpensive but you get what you pay for and even if client decides to not move forward with me after our initial meeting they get more than their money's worth. I explain to them that their time with me is an investment in their online presence, their online reputation and their future and like any investment there will be returns that can be explained and seen in ROI. I usually do a little research before going to an appointment or having the client come to my office. I want to know what he has online right now and see if he has done anything positive or negative if he or she has a website or any other kind of web presence. I'm not going into a business situation blind if at all possible as I want to anticipate the questions and the answers that should come up in that meeting and I want to also prepare something that is specific to that client's needs in a tangible fashion also. A powerpoint presentation works well for that, a SEO report that includes backlink stats, social media stats, on page SEO, etc... you know... all the usual suspects when it comes to a complete analysis. I actually have a branded name I use for that and I suggest you do the same. The analysis that I produce goes with the client as that is part of what the client is shelling out all that cash for and it also gives them a chance to look it over after the fact in the event I do not close them for an ongoing contract. Plus when you are charging decent money you really should be giving out something tangible as something in their hand helps in our closing. But before giving out that information and sharing my thoughts, I like to hear what the client is thinking so that I can tailor my presentation to them on a more personal level. I ask them what they expect from their web site and their online presence. Are they looking for leads? Do they want to sell more widgets? Do they have nothing and need to create a site? Are they looking to manage their reputation or do a public relations campaign? Get their thoughts and let them talk. Listen well and TAKE NOTES or you may forget something and could end up losing a client because you forgot that their old website had flying monkeys or some such thing on it and they think that putting wings on monkeys is a violation of the P.E.T.A. TOS. You would be surprised what sets a person off or what they see as important and you want to cater to that to some extent. I once had a client that wanted a forum on his eCommerce site and despite my thinking it was not the best idea and explaining why he was still all about it so I put one up just as he requested. Sometimes you have to give the client what he wants despite himself. I also talk in non-technical terminology as much as possible. Now, for me, that is not too hard since I'm not very technical but for some of you guys that know tons more than I do it could be a bit of a challenge. Remember that the person coming to you is probably not as tech savvy as you are and that is why they are coming to you. They may know the best kind of golf shaft for someone that swings at 86 miles per hour, how to win a divorce case for their client, what marketing concept is best for Fortune 500 companies or whatever... odds are they do not know what Social Signals are so be mindful of that. I even say that I may come across like I am talking down to them but to please excuse me as I want to make sure they understand everything I am trying to express. Apologizing in advance in a situation like that works wonders so be specific in your conversation, talk in ?layman? terminology and keep it simple. Once I lay out where they are in the digital world, I then talk about what would be required to get them to where they want to be and to where I think is best for them to be. I do not discount their thoughts as to where they want to be (even though they are usually WAY OFF) but I try to move their thinking to what I see as best based on my experience as an expert in the digital world as well as my experience as a businessman. I offer generalities and not specifics as to how I will get them there but do offer a nugget here and there so they don't think I am all smoke and mirrors. Again that is offering something tangible to the client as I see that as a strong part of my closing process and yes, I am always closing when I am meeting with a client. With both their ideas and my ideas out on the table, the background of their current situation in present view and a vision for the future I then offer them 2 or 3 options to get to the promised land. I NEVER offer just one option because then it is buy or don't buy. If I offer 2 or 3 options it is buy this option or buy that option. I'm not all that excited about my initial consultation fee because that is a one off and my business models are all monthly based and in the SEO industry I don't see any other that is best for the client. The client can take the options back to their place of business and weigh them or get the process started right away so as to not lose any more time in getting their rightful place online. Over 80% are a one call close and of the other 17 - 18 or so I get about 14% so that is not too bad plus I get the consultation fee to cover my due diligence and the time I have to sit with them to get the ball rolling. There you have it, hope that gives you guys a bit of an outline or some ideas for consults when you are presented with those opportunities.