So you want to start booking your dream clients. The ones that set your heart on fire doing the work you love best. But how do you get there? How do you lead them through from the inquiry, the first hello, to practically begging you to sign the dotted line and let you lead them through your perfectly planned experience? For a consumer, signing the dotted line and swiping the card is no easy task, especially when it comes to multi-thousand dollar transactions. If you want to book them, you’ve got to begin nurturing the client experience long before things become official.
Just prior to inquiry
I wouldn’t be a very good teacher if I didn’t help you do your prep work, so we are going to start just prior to that first hello in your contact form.
Have you ever been out at the mall and stumbled upon Victoria Secret’s Semi-Annual Sale? I don’t follow their happenings, so I always end up surprised by the event. You see the big window sign and know you need a new bra, so why not check it out. You walk in and a sales associate is quick to welcome you and tell you all about the amazing deals. Then you see them. The giant bins filled with piles of lace and neon color and your eyes grow about 2 times bigger. The bins are so smartly labeled, “Small,” “Medium,” “Large” or “A,” “B,” “C,” and etc., so naturally, you gravitate to your everyday size only to be quickly let down. Those labels mean nothing. You’re a 34 C, yet in the “C” bin you find just about every other size besides C’s. So you begin the dig. And about 20 minutes later you give up and go buy an Auntie Anne’s pretzel instead and head to Dillard’s to purchase a bra without all the stress of bin sifting.
I can imagine that it is extremely difficult for Victoria’s Secret to keep those bins organized during their big sales, but ultimately they set that system up. So it is their job to maintain it well, lest they lose eager and ready to buy customers. But let’s not dwell on Victoria’s Secret sale snafu, let’s focus on how this has anything to do with your online business.
It is simple, really. You want your dream clients to actually take the step of inquiring with you? Don’t make them dig through the “bins” of your fancy website to find all the important details they need to know to decide if you could be the right fit for them!
It is a hot button topic in our industry, but I happen to be on the side of the consumer when it comes to price listings on your website. How can you expect your dream clients to say hello when no one knows if they can actually afford you? So instead of just your dreamies reaching out, you have to deal with time-consuming replies to a lot of inquiries who simply are not your best fit. It is a rare occurrence that I send an inquiry email to someone who doesn’t list their pricing, or at least offer an average investment starting price on their website. Although you may be quick to respond, I don’t know that and am quick to move on to find someone who is willing to give it to me straight as to not waste either of our time.
Other “bins” that come to mind are talking more about your love for Starbucks instead of taking care to explain how your service or product can actually provide value to your customer, naming your services with cutesy titles instead of using common language (I know it is creative and fun, but from a non-educated consumer perspective, this is more confusing than anything! Plus it isn’t good for SEO.), and the worst of all, not giving your contact information on site. I know you want potential customers to use that contact form, but sometimes it doesn’t function properly (tech woes!) or your potential customer’s initial inquiry is more detailed in nature than your contact form prompts provide. Whatever the reason, you should absolutely at least include your email address somewhere on your site. If you start the experience off in CIA secretive fashion, I guarantee your potential buyers will fear your true capability to be available for them.
Handling that first contact with ease after the inquiry
If you’ve heard the buzz, millennials expect immediate answers. Thanks to the internet in your pocket, instant messaging, and text messaging, us youngsters have grown accustomed to quick access to whatever we need.
But you need a life and certainly can’t be glued to your inbox all day just in case. Here is where automation can literally save the day. You can begin nurturing your potential buyer through automation right from the get-go and save yourself a ton of time while you’re at it. There are a couple ways you can go about this:
Implement a CRM system – Investing in a powerful CRM for your business is crucial for any service-based business owner. Look for an option that includes a contact form you can embed into your site that automatically inputs the client information into the system and has the capability for automated emails to go out that include vital information like a brochure that goes in depth about what makes you unique and how you can serve them best. I use Honeybook as a comprehensive CRM solution in my business.
Funnel them into a Welcome Sequence through Email Marketing – If you don’t need the full functionality of a CRM system, you can also create a nurturing sequence that leads them through a carefully crafted series of automated emails pointing them to why they need you and how you can serve them. Your emails can include video, a mission and pricing guide brochure, and links to valuable content to establish trust and prime your potential customer to buy.
Setting up automation right off the bat not only makes you look like you have your stuff together, but it also gives you space to process new leads without the stress of being glued to your inbox 24/7! If your service includes more customized pricing options, you can end the automated process by asking your customer for detailed specific needs and give an expectation as to when you will provide a custom quote.
Settling your client’s biggest fears after the inquiry
Have you ever written a $3,000 check? How did you feel? Were you 100% confident that your investment was going to be worth it and result in a perfect deliverable, or did you feel a twinge of, “I hope this doesn’t come back to bite me later,” as handed you over the keys to your bank account? The majority of people I’ve asked all share common fears when they talk about making big purchases. It is darn right terrifying to not know if you are making the right decision with your hard earned money.
As the service provider, it is paramount that you lean into settling your client’s fears during the booking phase if you want to get to card swiped. Having an easy to understand and an organized process can work wonders to build confidence with your customers and ease their minds.
During the final decision phase of booking, your goal should be to make your client-to-be to do as little work as possible to get to yes. Aka be overly accommodating. This is not the time to be cheap in your business. If you invest well here, you are much more likely to seal the deal. Here’s a few critical components you shouldn’t skimp on in functionality at this point:
Your Contract: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, copy and paste a contract you found off Google as your client contract. Either hire an attorney or use a contract template written by an attorney. You can use understandable language, but don’t try this at home by yourself. This is absolutely worth the money.
Electronic Signature: If any part of your booking process currently includes your client to have a printer and scanner, that needs to change right now. Remember, your goal is to do all the heavy lifting here and serve up your booking opportunity on a silver platter. Making your client print out a contract, find a pen to sign it, scan it back in, and attach it to an email is akin to sending your client to Golden Corral and making them serve themselves dinner. You want to be the Ritz Carlton, not Golden Corral, girlfriend! Be overly aware of each step in the booking process to ensure you are offering 5-star service. Here’s another nod for a powerful CRM system. Your CRM of choice should give you an easy fill in the blank and time-saving system for creating custom contracts, allow customers to sign contracts electronically, and give immediate access for them to make their first payment for services. Honeybook does all of this beautifully.
Credit Card Transactions: I know the fees are astronomical for a small business owner, but there is basically no reason under the sun that trumps offering your clients to pay you via credit card. Many people don’t even own a checkbook these days. Don’t make your prized dream clients have to make a trip to the bank just to pay you. They will find someone who is willing to keep things easy for them. While it is illegal in most states to transfer the processing fees over to the client, you can get smart and build in the cost of accepting credit cards into your base package pricing. It is apart of the cost of doing business and should be treated like any other expense of your service pricing.
Captured by Sarahdipity Photos
Going the extra mile
Once your client has swiped their card, you can immediately reinforce and strengthen their confidence in choosing you by sending tangible value right off the bat. Set up your service for success with a Welcome Packet that helps define appropriate expectations and gives them something to be excited about after the contract is signed. You’ll have your client raving about you from day one!
If you take the time to do a little prep work for your booking process, you will save yourself tons of time and headaches and ensure a smooth experience from inquiry to card swiped for those dream clients of yours! It will set the tone of confidence in you as the service provider so you can begin your work in a positive and controlled fashion. You’ve got this!