When To Give Away An Assessment For Free And When To Charge For It

Robin Robins MSP Marketing Leave a Comment

A common, ongoing debate is whether or not you should charge for an IT assessment (or audit, risk assessment, etc.). To be clear, I do not think it’s either good OR bad to charge for an assessment. It is a strategic decision you make while taking into consideration the specific situation in which you are using it and the impact it will have on the overall sales and client acquisition numbers. 

In general, when PROSPECTING for new opportunities and doing lead generation marketing, giving the assessment away for free rather than attempting to sell it will open more doors and give you more opportunities. For example, here’s how the numbers may work out if we are MARKETING an assessment to NEW prospects who have not actively shown interest in our services yet. 

“But they won’t value it.”  

This is a common reason I hear for not providing assessments for free. And while there’s some validity to it, it’s not entirely true. Of course, someone who pays for an item sees value or they wouldn’t buy it. But successful lead generation marketing is about enticing a prospect who has NOT shown interest or inquired to WANT to meet with you to hear more about how you can help them. 

Therefore, we need to be able to offer something that has HIGH PERCEIVED VALUE to them and is of great interest – that’s true whether we’re selling something or giving it away for free. If they don’t see value in the thing offered, offering it for free won’t make a difference. That’s why free assessments still need to be “sold” and the value explained; more on this in a minute… 

But if we now take a high-value offer and make it FREE, we remove one big hurdle a prospect has to jump over to say yes, and in doing so, we open the door for more leads and more appointments. To be clear, successfully using free assessments in your marketing requires three things: 

  • CORRECT TARGETING so you don’t attract unqualified prospects.  
  • SELLING the assessment as though you were charging for it, building the value, and making a compelling case as to why they should want it. 
  • Providing a REASON WHY you are offering it for free. 

Many offering free assessments as a lead generation door opener to new clients miss one or more of these critical aspects.

They either don’t properly sell it, assuming that “free” is sufficient motivation for someone to say yes, and/or they don’t provide a logical reason why you would give something of value like this away for free. 

In copywriting, we call this “reason why” copy. In the campaigns I’ve provided, you’ll see we give the reason that the prospect has probably been burned and disappointed before, not only by other IT firms, but by other vendors as well. Therefore, as a “get to know us” offer that has zero risk to them and allows you to demonstrate how you are far superior to the IT company they have now or others that have disappointed them in the past, you’re willing to do this for free.  

Additional Myths About Giving It Away For Free:

  • If they don’t pay for it, they don’t value it. While I’ve just covered this, let me also say this is not always the case. Many people are appreciative and delighted by getting “something for nothing.” I actually do enjoy a free lunch when offered. Here is a list of other industries that offer free assessments very successfully to get new clients in the door: 
  • Chiropractors: Free Pain Evaluation and Exam 
  • Dentists: Free Initial Exam and Tooth Whitening 
  • Lawn Care Companies: Free Lawn Analysis 
  • Marketing Firms: Free SEO Analysis, Lead Generation Assessment 
  • Carpet Cleaners: Free Carpet Audit 
  • CPAs: Free Tax Reduction Consultation/Bookkeeping Audit 
  • Solar Power: Free Site Assessment 
  • Gardening: Free Soil Analysis 
  • Jewelry Stores: Free Diamond Ring Inspection and Cleaning 
  • I have to give it away to everyone, even the non-qualified prospects. Not true. If a prospect is not qualified or one you don’t want to do business with, you are not required to do anything. Simply tell them they aren’t a right fit. 

When To Charge For An Assessment:

  • If your marketing is driving a lot of inbound leads. If YOU (the owner) are doing the selling and want or need to be more selective about who you spend time selling to, or your salesperson/team is fully booked with prospect opportunities coming in, you might consider charging for the initial assessment. Doing so will slow down the number of people who will engage and deliver a more qualified prospect. 
  • If a strategic partner is sending you HOT qualified leads (referred) where they have a known need and you have been positioned as “the guy” they need to talk to. In this case, you are presold and will have a higher success rate of getting them to pay for an assessment rather than giving it for free. 
  • You know how to deliver a “from stage” presentation that sells (webinar or in-person) and are speaking to a group where not everyone is qualified to be a client. In this type of scenario, you could consider selling from the stage. However, IF the audience is made up of a lot of qualified prospects, giving it for free will cause more of them to start moving toward you. 
  • The prospect calls and wants to hire you to do an assessment. 
  • You have a HOT inbound lead that is sold on hiring you (referral, for example).  

Just remember this: If you decide to charge for a network assessment, you need to have other lead generation offers that drive prospects inbound because the assessment is now a SALE. 

When To Give It Away For Free:

  • When you need more inbound leads and appointments with new prospects. Giving it away for free will lower the barrier to engaging with you. 

IMPORTANT: Do not confuse the “free assessment” we use in marketing to attract and convert new prospects into clients with a true cyber security risk assessment that is required for compliance, documentation of a network or other IT project.

Conducting the “technical” part of an assessment should NOT: 

  • Require an engineer’s time, or if it does, VERY briefly (installing RapidFire Tools, reviewing the settings after a prospect logs you in, etc.). 
  • Take more than 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete. 

What we’re talking about is a SALES tool. The free assessment we recommend in the marketing is a high-value OFFER we use to engage a prospect we are MARKETING to as a means for getting an appointment and obtaining permission to sell. Therefore, it’s best if offered free to lower the barrier of engaging with you. 

The above is an excerpt from a 3-part sales training series where I covered important topics such as how to put yourself in a position of power and authority and how to elegantly handle objections, overcome fee resistance and close a sale. For more ways to increase sales, grab our free guide at https://technologymarketingtoolkit.com/sixways.