Question. What percentage of prospects, who take the time to meet with you, become clients?
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it’s high. And while ‘high’ is a good thing, the question masks a real problem. There’s a more important (and potentially uncomfortable) question I need to ask.
What percentage of the prospects, who stopped by your site, took the time to meet with you?
Let’s face it, it’s easy to get a little self-congratulatory if we focus only on our conversion rates from prospect meeting to client. However, if you’re only meeting a small percentage of the potential clients who pay you a ‘virtual visit’, you could be missing out on a much bigger opportunity. Like the water that seeps through holes in a bucket, too often we let prospects slip through the cracks without ever knowing they were there.
Prospects hear about you from their friends and from their other professional advisors. They may see an article you wrote, find you through a google search or drive by your office. However they hear about you, your website is likely the first place they’ll go to learn more about what you do. And if you don’t have a compelling message and a process to capture information on them, it’s as if they were never there. You’ve lost the opportunity.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little planning and a commitment to using a few new tools, you can plug the holes in your process and begin to engage with significantly more prospects.
The 7 Steps
There are seven critical steps to engaging prospects in ways that add value and help you build deeper relationships.
- Add value before a prospect becomes a client. Provide prospects with meaningful information that adds value before they become a client. Give them something (such as an article, report or checklist) that reflects their needs and helps establish you as an expert in meeting those needs. Give before you take.
- Align the messaging on your site with the needs of your ideal client.Ensure that whatever you offer to prospects is completely aligned with your message and the needs of your target or ideal client.
- Plug the prospecting holes. Capture contact details of the prospects who are interested in the information you’re offering.
- Personalize your communications. Send prospects an email with access to the information they requested and share a bit about who you are and why you work with clients just like them.
- Gain deeper insights on your prospects. When you share the information that the prospect requested, ask them to respond to a single, simple question that sheds light on their biggest challenges.
- Customize communications based on need. Provide a follow-up that directly addresses the challenge shared by your prospect, while creating a second, meaningful ‘touch’.
- Stay in touch. Create a process to communicate on a regular basis.
Let’s look at a plan that integrates these seven steps. The flow might look something like this:
A warning. This section is only for those who want to dig in on the details. Stop reading and send this link to someone on your team immediately if that isn’t you!
Not long ago I wrote about some of the tools we use in our business if you’d like a behind the scenes look. I know how much you invest in the core technology that you use to run your business. And I’m not suggesting you stop doing that or prioritizing that investment. However, I truly believe that the most progressive firms have become students of engagement and marketing tools that take their businesses to a new level.
Let’s look at the specifics of the flow I outlined above and the tools that can bring it to life.
#1. Use your website to tell prospects about your lead magnet.
The process starts with an invitation, on your website or blog, that offers your prospects something of real value. The ‘marketing-speak’ for that information is a lead magnet. Your lead magnet should reflect the specific needs or challenges of your ideal client and add meaningful value. It could be a checklist, a series of curated articles or a report. It can be written by you or your team, or you can provide access to relevant information written by others. Curation is still valuable.
To make this available, give your lead magnet some real estate on your website. Visitors to your site would see an image of your lead magnet, a brief description of the value and an invitation to download the material.
#2. Capture email addresses.
You can have your developer create a form that will capture names and email addresses. However, if you don’t want to do that kind of development, there are simple tools to help.
For example, you can easily use a program that allows you to create custom landing pages, as well as forms to gather contact details. And you can do all of that without having to do complex programming on your site. We use Leadpages and this is an example of a page that we created for one of our programs.
When a prospect clicks on the link on your site they’re taken to your custom landing page. There they’ll see the same image of your lead magnet and a form (which you can easily create with a few clicks). Prospects are invited to enter their first name and email address. (Hint: If you’re tempted to ask for more information, talk yourself out of it. Prospects don’t owe you anything at this point.)
#3. Say thank you and engage further
Once the prospect clicks on the submit button for the lead magnet form, they’re re-directed automatically to another landing page (also created through LeadPages). There you can let them know that the report (or other lead magnet) is on the way. And, you can add a poll to ask respondents your follow-up question about their challenges.
#4. Engage with prospects
This is where the magic happens. When prospects request information and/or respond to your question, their contact details are automatically integrated with your email distribution system, such as Mailchimp. You can filter prospects into different groups, based on their responses to your question, and send a customized email. Better still, the entire process can be automated.
For example, if I selected ‘cash flow planning’ as my challenge, I would automatically receive an email along the lines of the following:
Thanks so much for your interest in our report, The Top 10 Online Resources for Business Owners. You can click the link for immediate access. Before you do, I have a question.
Being an entrepreneur is a tough gig and we understand that. Can you tell me what you consider to be your most pressing challenge today?
- Managing cash flow
- Finding a successor
- Building long-term value in the business
Two weeks later I would automatically receive another email along the lines of the following:
I hope you found the list of online resources we provided of value. I know you mentioned that cash flow planning was your biggest challenge. Based on the work we do with business owners, I know you aren’t alone.
I thought you might find this article of interest. I came across it recently in the Harvard Business Journal and think it provides some great points on managing cash flow.
I appreciate that things feel more complex when we dig into the detail of new technology. However, you can start simply and make a single offer on your site and capture email addresses. At a minimum that will ensure you can communicate with the prospects who would otherwise disappear. When you’re comfortable with that, consider taking it up a notch and using these tools to create deeper engagement with your prospects.
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