Stop Giving Away the Cookies: How to Woo Prospects Without Giving Away Your Ideas



It seems to be going just as you hoped. You hit it off from the beginning, the conversation flows easily from personal anecdotes to the business at hand, and best of all, your potential new client LOVES all your ideas. She just can’t get enough of your brilliance.

And then it happens…

She thanks you for all your amazing insight and tells you that she will take these back to her team to implement immediately. Perhaps she didn’t know you were hoping to be the implementer, or maybe you just didn’t screen her well enough to know that she didn’t have the budget to outsource to begin with.

Whatever the reason, you just gave away EVERYTHING she needed to know to do the job without you. That’s the Catch-22 of wooing and wowing potential clients. One the one hand, you need to give enough away to demonstrate your expertise, but on the other, you can’t just give it all away and hope they will buy from you.

How to Woo Prospects WITHOUT Giving Away Your Ideas!

Screen Prospects – Determine if the prospect fits your criteria for an ideal client BEFORE you spend a ton of time coming up with creative ideas to bring to a meeting. It’s always worth it to invest time and effort to win a client IF that client is a good fit who has the desire and ability to buy from you.

Manage Expectations – Let your prospects know upfront that you want to work with them and how much you are willing to invest before they make a decision. For example, you may tell them that you are happy to sit down for an hour consulting session to discuss their project and give them a few ideas.

Think Sample Size – Remember that the key is giving them a few ideas, not all of them. It’s okay to let them know that you have more ideas beyond what you are sharing or that after delving further into their specific situation, you come up with more ideas that are tailor-made for them.

Share Case Studies – Instead of sharing idea after idea specific to their company or problem, share examples of how you helped your previous clients. Not only does this serve as a testimonial, but it gives them insight into how you go from problem to solution.

Leave Them Wanting MORE – Wrap up the conversation by saying the following, “I have lots of ideas for you” and then shut your mouth. The next words must be about how much you’d love to work with them to reach their goals and how you are qualified to do that (but nothing about HOW you will do that).

Remember, it’s important to put a money boundary around your expertise. You invested in developing your skills and the right clients are more than willing to pay you to access that knowledge. Don’t waste your time with tire-kickers and brain-pickers.


About Author

Carla Young, Publisher If there’s living proof that women can have it all – and then some – it’s Carla Young. Building her multiple businesses on a virtual work-at-home model, Carla is an inspiration to other mothers who want to start a lifestyle business. During her early days as a mom entrepreneur, Carla made every single mistake in the book (and a few new ones for good measure). Realizing that “doing it all” was unhealthy and unsustainable, Carla started by getting organized to the extreme, developing support systems for both her work and family. After other mothers started asking how they too could enjoy her lifestyle, Carla launched to support moms at work, at home and at play (because every mommy deserves a little me-time)!


  1. GREAT article. Learned this (expensive) lesson early on. I also learned to charge for my consultation with the understanding that should they engage me, the fee would be deducted from the services. Doing this 1) kept that consultation visit on track 2) weeded out the “Pick your brainers” 3) made them understand that my time was valuable.

  2. I like the “boundary around money” bit. I think a lot of women especially struggle with this, and as a result, are taken advantage of. Is it just that we are naturally helpful, or too helpful for our own good?

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