In one of his articles, A Call to Arms: Twelve Proclamations of a Win Without Pitching Agency, he focuses on how to deal with clients that demand free services to prove our worthiness of their business. I decided to share a few parts of the manifesto, but I recommend reading all of it.
Here is an excerpt:
7. We will be selective. Instead of seeking clients we will selectively and respectfully pursue ‘perfect fits’ – those targeted organizations that we can best help. We will say ‘no’ early and often, weeding out those that would be better served by others and those that cannot afford us. By using ‘no’ we will give power and credibility to our ‘yes’.
8. We will not solve problems without being financially engaged. Under no circumstances will we part with our thinking without appropriate compensation, for our thinking is our highest value product and if we demonstrate that we do not value it, our clients will not. When we are asked to begin solving problems in the buying cycle we will politely but firmly point out that we save our best thinking for our paying clients and should the client-to-be choose to engage us they can rest assured that our best minds will be working on their business rather than on winning business that we do not currently have.
9. We will address issues of money early. We will never again put ourselves in a position where we have over-invested in a relationship only to find that the client-to-be cannot afford to pay us what we are worth. We will set a minimum level of engagement and declare it early in conversations with our clients-to-be so that in the event they cannot afford us both parties will be able to walk away early without wasting valuable resources. We will keep in mind the Win Without Pitching Rule of Money: Those who cannot talk money, do not make money.
You can read the rest of the manifesto here