You’re in need of an illustrator. You check out an illustrator’s website. You love their work. They list all these services, but when you inquire all there is is a sad measly contact form. You know what you want. They know what you want. So why should you have to type out the whole shebang?
This creates unnecessary hurdles for potential clients and can result in losing their interest. Not to mention, you waste valuable time following up and chasing them to have an initial discussion.
Exhibit A: Client Inquiries Without Structure
If you have a process for everything to go through, it requires less work on both your ends. I love using Ilene B. Miller as an example because she provides a very important service that’s largely unknown by the majority of people. The only people who care about her are parents of children with academic, social and emotional difficulties.
Ilene is an educational consultant and special needs advocate, which essentially means she guides families down the path of success and achievement for their struggling children. Getting the right support services for a child, making sure they are administered properly and tracking progress is the core of her business.
She used to have a slew of services listed like consulting, advocacy, tutoring and more. She also had a generic “Consultation” session people had to purchase prior to working with her. This presented several problems:
- No one knew what they were getting from a consult. They felt it was just money thrown away. When in reality, she was analyzing and strategizing that whole time.
- Parents would contact her and ask specific questions about their situation. It was a free-for-all with no way to reign in the information.
Once I productized her consult into a more tangible and valuable product, an Open Opportunity Session, the process became simple.
Processes = Less Work
The first step in working with Ilene is an Open Opportunity Session. Part of the checkout process includes a long questionnaire where specific questions about the child’s situation are asked. Based on these answers, Ilene can come into an Open Opportunity Session with all the background information she needs to give parents the most she can. It sets up Ilene to demonstrate her expertise even more and provides parents with the best use of their time and money. This way, their two hour session isn’t wasted on getting up to speed- she can jump right into the here and now.
Clients Are Like Children
Hand holding is necessary, because you can't expect clients to know your industry like you do. They also don't know the right questions to ask or how to frame their inquiry. When you structure your intake into a form, you gently guide them into providing the most important information in the best way for you.
Dumping a lot of information about your services and then telling visitors to "contact you" is overwhelming and confusing for clients. As the professional, it's your job to take control from the first interaction to the last.
You Can Be The Hero
Not only is this less hectic for you, but it puts your clients at ease and slides you into the "five star business" category. Clients love to know they are being taken care of. That why we stay in luxury resorts, opt for white glove service and rely on full service companies.
Your intake form doesn't have to be incredibly long, and should be as concise as possible. Too much work is a turnoff for clients as well- it quickly becomes a chore.
Ask the appropriate questions so that you get all of the information you need and avoid redundancy.
You'll be surprised what a small tweak like an intake form does for your sanity and the client's confidence in you. Say goodbye to wasted hours emailing back and forth or conversations that don't go anywhere. Below is the questionnaire all my clients fill out when they book an appointment with the Concept Concierge.
Automated Bookings Give You More "Me Time"
Either before or after the intake form should be a way for clients to schedule an appointment to discuss their info. I prefer Calendly for its ease of use, but Acuity has a built-in block in Squarespace and Youcanbook.me is another popular option.
Regardless of your industry, you can benefit from automating your appointment setting. This saves time, and let's you gracefully step in for your first client meeting. Whether the first meeting is free or not (I always say not), you're hands off for the beginning of your process. This allows leads to organically come in, share their needs, schedule a convenient time for them to meet and get excited about speaking with you.
A smooth beginning indicates what's to come, and without speaking a word you've already made one heck of a first impression.
Clients will happily answer a few questions in advance if it means a frictionless first conversation. Why make both sides jump through hoops when a simple intake form and calendar scheduling can give you a few more hours by the pool?