A Prospect Isn’t a Customer
I used to get excited when I started out when I got a lead or a prospect. Wooo hooo a new customer.
A lead isn’t a customer. They may end up being one and you should work your little tail off putting great proposals, processes and communications in place to ensure that they turn into customers.
But you should contain your excitement. If every lead you got DID turn into a customer then you could start woo hooing all day long but usually it is a small percentage.
Here is how I at least try to transform leads into customers.
Don’t Be Lazy and Forgetful
When I get a lead through whatever medium I reply to them really really quickly. The reason is that I tend to forget them if I don’t pump them into my process right away (less so now with Pipedrive) and unless I hop on it I may not follow up.
Believe me I don’t have hundreds of leads pouring in my door. It just slips down my Inbox, I get busy, Twitter burps, the door slams and before I know it, it is too late and I didn’t get back to them A week in business is like a decade.
I did a survey just a few weeks ago in my niche and I found that about 30-40% of people in website design reply the same day. So if and when you reply quickly you are ahead of the pack.
You may already have some level of automation in place to do this but whatever method you have the faster the better. I used to think fast was needy but it isn’t. You can be both fast and professional.
Make Sure it is Professional
Now don’t get the hump. I know you are a professional but don’t come across all needy and deliver a slipshod response to that first contact.
If like me 80% of your responses (or at least the core of them) is the same then polish that response till it shines.
Now from my survey I saw that the competition all replied in the same manner.
An email outlining what they did, the service and so on. Now I looked at them and I fell asleep reading all of them. Were there any visuals in the response? Nope. Video, nope. Links to interesting articles explaining how they worked?
Nope. Lots of standard yawn inducing answers.
So one of my little projects was to create a cool image to put in my replies to catch peoples eyes to that they say – hey this guy has imagination I will remember this response at least.
Follow Up Like an Annoying Toddler
Despite what you may think your project isn’t the number one priority in your clients lives. Of course they want a graphics, website, painting, content piece but it may be item number 17 in a list of 20. So your job is to keep in touch with them and show them how super easy it will be to work with you.
Following up also shows that you will also follow up when you are working with them
I have two mantras that I would tell every single freelancer. They are always do a proposal with terms and conditions that outlines in detail that your client understands what you are delivering. Make sure they understand this too. Also in case a customer turns into a monster from the marsh have terms and conditions that they also agree to. I know they may never read them but they signed them.
And no matter how small the job is get them to agree. You will thank me with expensive gifts for this tip.
Second mantra is ALWAYS get a deposit. The sub text of this is to not spend the deposit so that after two days you discover that the client IS a monster from the marsh you can tell them to fuck off that you no longer want to work with them. If they get mad point to guess what the “Terms and conditions” put a clause in there that you reserve the right to run screaming down the street if you see their marsh credentials.
As I said some leads just don’t bottom out. Its hard to tell (despite asking a few times). Sometimes they never go ahead, get someone else, use a friend, or a host of readons.
It isn’t always price either despite what you may think. If you can do a professional response that is priced 10-20% more than the competition and do a great follow up that is what will impress clients.
I have won tons of jobs just by doing the toddler approach. The feedback I get when I ask why they chose me was just that – I followed up and kept on top of them.
But if a lead doesn’t bottom out don’t get pissed off. This happens. Check back with the customer and ask why they want with someone else. Keep a record. Learn.
Which leads me to the final point.
Process like a Ninja
Be constantly looking at your process. If it is a choice between fine tuning a design skill or improving your process spend an hour on the way you interact with leads.