Your clients are the lifeblood of your business. Without them, you have no one to serve (and no revenue coming in)! To grow your business, you need to grow your client base – and in order to do that, you need to show that you can serve their needs better than your competition. This all starts with setting a great first impression!
Putting the details together to set the right first impression is also known as “preconditioning.” Essentially, it is the process of understanding your prospects needs well enough to make it very easy to decide to work with you.
This will look different for every company, so there is not a specific blueprint to follow. Your products, services, and culture are different than other companies, and you serve a specific demographic. However, there are a few key steps that every company should follow. They’re not difficult, but if you miss one, it will affect your client’s experience!
Understand Your Leads
Most companies have leads coming in from a number of different sources: social media, word of mouth referrals, people who happen upon your website, and more. Understanding where your leads are coming from and where they are in your funnel will equip you to anticipate their needs and offer a solid first impression.
Knowing where a lead came from will help you in several ways. First, it will help you understand whether your prospect is hot, warm, or cold; this will give you context for the next steps in the sales process.
For example, if someone approaches you through a DM on a social media platform, they are probably somewhat familiar with your business, but may not know the specifics about how you can best solve their problem. You will need some time to get to know their needs and to help them gain confidence that you are the right choice for them to work with.
On the other hand, if a client emails you to introduce their friend who desperately needs a specific service from you, it is likely that they already have a sense of trust – after all, your client gave you rave reviews and introduced them to you!
Warming Your Audience
Both your online and offline presence are important during this step. Your social media profiles and website are often the first impression people have of you, so it is essential that they are on-brand and easy to navigate.
If you have a brick and mortar office however, your prospect’s first impression might happen over the phone. Simple things like answering the phone quickly, answering with a smile, and observing proper etiquette can make a big difference.
Think about the last time you called an office. When your call was answered, how did you feel? Were you one in a long line of “please hold” requests, or were you treated like someone important? Did you have to wait 6 or 7 rings until your call was picked up, or was it answered right away? Were you shuffled from one person to another, with no one able to help, or were you transferred quickly to the right person?
How did that experience affect your decision whether or not to work with that company?
This also applies to email. Do you have a standard time range – say, 24 hours – in which your team is to answer all emails? If so, has this been communicated? A quick, courteous response can do a lot to set the stage; waiting for days to get back to them can send a signal that your team in overwhelmed and unorganized. This is probably not the impression you want to give!
Setting the Stage
Once your prospect schedules a call with you, I encourage you to set the stage and let them know what to expect. This is something that is often overlooked; you know your systems and procedures well, but your prospects don’t! Take the time to follow up with an email that thanks them for scheduling and reviews their next steps. This can be automated through your scheduler to make sure it doesn’t fall through the cracks!
In addition, sending an email or text to confirm your call is a nice touch. It lets your prospect know that your team is organized and ready to serve their needs!
There are a lot of different steps that go into the sales process, but setting a great first impression is one of the most important. It provides the foundation for your entire client relationship going forward. Fortunately, by taking the time to understand your leads and anticipate their needs, you can wow them every time!