If you’re actively looking for new clients, just how easy do you make it to work with you?
How many hoops do you make new clients jump through?
And do those hoops serve to qualify your leads or just annoy the heck out of your prospects?
There is a WordPress developer I use from time to time who just implemented a new client process to help him allocate work to his people.
It involves going to a third party website and entering some details about the project. That website then sends a notice to Asana, another third-party site he uses to manage his projects.
A reasonable request which my team was happy to fulfill.
Until the first piece in his chain broke. And rather than simply fix it or do a manual intervention, he spent his energy on three emails trying to get us to figure out the problem in Asana (which we don’t use) and fix it.
I’d rather stick needles in my eyes.
He was so focused on his process that he lost sight of the goal.
Is it possible that you’ve got pockets in your client acquisition system that could use a tweak or downright overhaul?
Hint: if too many bad-fits are getting through or not enough ideal clients are making the cut, it’s worth a look.
For your sweet-spot clients, your process should feel either smooth and easy or well worth the hurdles you require.
And, it should not only align with your brand, but with how you want to run your business.
Case in point.
Our WordPress developer here might WANT to screen out clients who aren’t willing to trouble-shoot in Asana. That makes his process decision in line with his goal (and all he needs to do is smooth out his execution).
Not sure if you’ve got the right process in place for your business? Start by asking yourself three questions.
What does it take to get from your website to starting a project?
The steps required here should match lockstep with both the complexity of your work and the brand you exude—how you interact with and ultimately transform your client’s situation.
So if you’re a design consultant for example, you probably have some sort of brief (fabulous looking) intake to qualify your prospect (type of assignment, timing and perhaps budget) and an offer of a call to determine fit.
Followed by a proposal and a signed deal. Much more than that for a seeking-work designer in a well-crafted niche is probably overkill.
But if you’re say a Fortune 500 strategy consultant, you probably don’t want to do much deep intake on your site (unless you’re so much in demand you need to build a high perimeter).
Because your goal is likely to have an exploratory phone call of some depth, followed by an in-person meeting with the client team.
You won’t be getting on a plane just to amuse yourself, so every step serves to qualify—or shoot down—your continued involvement.
How well does each stage in my client acquisition match the clients I want and how I prefer to work?
Once your digital funnels (social media, emails, website) have produced presumably qualified leads, what experience do you give them?
The high-touch, high-end consultant experience will likely look very different from the extra pair of hands lowest cost freelancer.
High touch means exactly that. Fast response emails and phone calls. Genuine interest in the client’s business and—unless you’re the brain surgeon of your specialty—his/her life.
Making them spend their valuable time getting past artificial barriers becomes either insulting or simply annoying.
But let’s not forget the flip side. When your problem is getting too many UN-qualified leads.
Like the client who complained her pipeline was filled with “the broke and tortured”.
Well guess what? She not only used broke and tortured language, but her natural empathy found her engaging in their worldview when they spoke.
A few tweaks to her screening process put up some firm barriers that still let her ideal clients in.
Where are the break points in your system?
You may have to do a little sleuthing on this one.
Take a look at your website traffic stats. Are too many visitors stopping at your contact page without engaging?
Look carefully at your intake form(s) from the perspective of your ideal client.
How long does it take to fill out your form?
How intimate do they need to get with you to answer your questions?
And have you created the level of trust to be asking those questions at this stage of the process?
Remember, clients may know they have a problem, but it doesn’t mean it feels good to share how bad they feel about it.
Bottom line: it should be easy for the RIGHT clients to work with you—and pretty much impossible for the wrong ones to waste your time.
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