Having too many prospects: what a wonderful problem to have, right? But the way you deal with this can affect your conversion of the right prospects.
It’s okay not to take on everyone straight away. We know you may feel like you are turning business away but if you put pressure on yourself, your team and your resources, you won’t offer a good service. You might be delayed in your service offering and will most likely end up with a tired, overworked team and a frustrated client. If people really want to work with you, they will wait.
If you tell people you are too busy and can’t help them now, they don’t have a good reason to come back. Give them a reason to stay. Tell them you can help them on X date and offer them a simple process to get everything ready to go, so they can hit the ground running when they reach their start date. This leaves them feeling productive and valued. And it’s the perfect opportunity to show them who you are as a firm.
People have less patience when they don’t know you
Allow your prospects opportunities to get to know you so they are more understanding when told they have to wait to work with you.
Ideally, most prospects who get in touch with you, will know something about you already. They’ll have met you at a networking event, be following you on social media, have attended one of your free webinars, be following your blog, or have downloaded one of your free guides.
As people get to know you, they start seeing you as a human being and not just a face-less robot that wants to sell them something. They have more empathy, understanding and respect for your decisions and processes.
Make sure you have plenty of information about who you are, who you help, how you help and success stories on your website and in all your marketing material. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Have a personal video on your website: this can go on your ‘thank you for getting in touch’ page so it appears once someone has filled out a diagnostic or requested a call. The video needs to be of yourself or one of your team members so people can get to know you and your firm a little more before they become a client. This helps them understand the way you work so they know what to expect when they sign-up.
- Include your values on your website. When people understand what’s important to you and your firm, they tend to have a little more patience. Your values aren’t just something you stick up on your office wall and never refer to. They need to be things you truly believe describe who you are as a firm and the way you work. You need to be hiring and firing using these values as well as using them when building a new client relationship. Show your prospects what you value, don’t just tell them. This will also help manage their expectations from the beginning.
- Have a good online brand presence: You want to be seen on all the social media platforms your prospects and clients are on. And not only be seen but be heard. Offer free information (keep the implementation advice for clients only), resources and guidance which will position you as an expert in your field.
Include testimonial quotes as social media custom graphics, link to your services, your values, a video, or a few blogs. Post a few images of your team doing fun things, working in the office, sharing a team lunch or doing any fun activities for team building. Your prospect wants to know you have a life outside of work – it makes you human and more approachable! You don’t need to separate the ‘work you’ from the ‘real you’!
Create a waiting list website page to get people to commit
If your prospect is your ideal client and you are able to help them, it’s going to be worth the wait for both of you. But knowing upfront that there is a wait and understanding what this involves is critical for the start of any good relationship.
We are fully booked for our workshops at the moment so we’ve created this workshop waiting list page to let people know.
You can create your own simple page on your website. Chat to your existing web team or if you are a PF client, let us know if this is something you are interested in, and we can work together to get this set up.
What needs to be on a waiting list page?
- A clear, obvious header: Keep this simple and easy to understand e.g. Waiting List
- An introductory piece of content: Manage their expectations. Explain you are fully booked and give them an idea of when you can work with them. People are happy to wait as long as you communicate a rough time period to them. And keep updating your waiting list so people know when the first available start date is.
- A sign-up form: This is committing them to starting with you. If you just tell them they have to wait without asking them to commit, some of those who are interested now, won’t return, even though they had every intention of signing-up. Tell them what you need them to do and use your website landing page to encourage them to sign-up now so they are on the list.
If you’re on WordPress, we suggest using Gravity Forms which is a plugin allowing you to easily record and export entries, change the style of the form to add your branding, add conditional options and even allow the user to upload files where needed.
Alternatively, you can create a form with Mailchimp and integrate it so people’s details get added straight to your audience list in Mailchimp. You can even use a basic Google form if you find it easier and quicker.
Make sure you are clear on your full process
You and your team need to understand and be able to explain your process clearly. If it’s a waiting list process, the prospect needs to know when they can start with you and what they can start doing now in order to prepare.
- Discuss the process with your team (or better still, get the team involved in deciding what the process is.)
- Write down your process so you can see the flow and all the steps involved (and pick up anything that might be missing)
- Work out what systems you need to enable the process to work
- Decide what each member in the team needs to do, as well as what is expected of the client
- Communicate the process, your expectations and what your prospect can expect from you, from the beginning
- Follow your own process. Once everyone (including the prospect or client) knows what they are responsible for, stick to the process so that expectations can be met.
Where possible, have your process visible for your prospects and clients. This can be in the form of a cornerstone graphic or an onboarding process map, like this 6 month one Raedan have on their onboarding page:
Make sure your prospects are committed by taking a deposit
It’s okay to require a deposit from the prospect to book their spot. This means they really are serious. If they argue this point, this suggests what we call a “pink flag” – not as serious as a red flag, but still something to be aware of when you take them on as a client. Those who really want to work with you will see the value in the product or service and have no problem paying a percentage of the cost to book their space.
When you quote for a project, make sure they know there is a waiting list so you are managing expectations from the start.
Give your prospects something to do while they wait
Use this as an opportunity to:
1. Manage expectations
Let them know what they can expect from you and when and tell them what you expect of them. If there are going to be any red flags or issues, now is the time to sort those out.
Create a custom graphic of your onboarding process for 3 to 6 months and share this with them so they understand the timeline for your specific process.
Send them an FAQs list (even better, build a website FAQs page) and update this constantly. Give them the opportunity to ask anything they may not be sure of in an onboarding call.
2. Get your prospect onboarded
If your prospect has paid the initial deposit to start working with you, use this time to get them set up and ready to start. Arrange a series of automatic emails with things for them to do or complete. We use Infusionsoft but there are plenty of other email softwares (like Mailchimp) that can do something similar.
- Record an onboarding video explaining the process in the custom graphic mentioned in point 1.
- Ask them to complete a diagnostic asking questions for information you need to know
- Request them to send documents that you may need (like ID copies) or logins to existing software they are using.
- Encourage them to sign up for apps like Receipt Bank or Xero to get the process started
Use this as an opportunity to get all the info you need ahead of time so you can hit the ground running when you actually get started with them.
3. Provide education
Create free content that will help your prospect and add value to their lives. Getting them educated before they start with you will also make the process easier when they work with you as they will understand why things happen the way they do, and what the timeline is for the work.
People respond to education and training in different ways so remember to create your education in different forms of media. You could create a:
- Video tutorial on how Receipt Bank works
- PDF downloadable guide on ‘How to get set up on Xero or Quickbooks’
- Blog on the different types of apps that can integrate with Xero
- Infographic on their niche and the problems you can help them solve
What if you are ready but the prospect is not?
If you are sharing helpful, free resources on your website and social media, you may get comments like “my current accountant isn’t giving me this level of help or isn’t even answering my emails.”
Accountants who are sharing helpful content about #covid19 are already getting people saying “This is so helpful! I need to talk to you when we get to the other side!”
This is your opportunity to be there for people who may need you later.
Create a Later List website page so that your prospects can stay connected to you now and talk to you later. This can be in the form of a support page like this one from Kinder Pocock or our PF helping page, or just a straight forward waiting list page.
Your prospect may not even be able to consider starting a new relationship with an accountant yet. Covid-19 is an example of this but it could be that the prospect just has other things going on, for example:
- They haven’t got the budget available to start something new
- They haven’t got the time to start a new relationship
- They haven’t got the resources (team members available to work with an accountant)
- They feel they aren’t yet big enough to outsource their finances but are growing fast.
These would also be great things to create content around, so you can help them be ready faster.
Make it easy for them to stay connected. They may need you in a month or things may take longer. Give them options – Do you want to stay on the list, do you want us to contact you in 3 months or 6months?
Call the page and the list something that fits with your brand or style e.g. a later list, or a helping or support page.
Create your own later list website page:
1. Address the pain point specifically so that the prospect says ‘yes that’s me’.
2. Keep it simple and use your own words as much as possible. A video from you at the top of the page would be great. If you need help, this is what we are doing and this is what you are able to do right now. It doesn’t need to be perfect or long, just 2 or 3mins. Make sure your audio and light is good.
3. Give them 2 options for actions to take:
- put me on the later list
- actually, I do need help now (maybe they realise they do need to switch accountants now instead of later, especially since all your content about their hesitations has persuaded them!).
4. Give them some free resources. These can be helpful blogs or videos that answer questions they may have right now.
5. Add a strong call to action at the end to encourage them to to add their names to the list.
6. Create a form to capture their contact information. This form can include their name, company name, phone number or email address, maybe a question about what it is they might want to talk to you about (make that optional as they might not be sure).
Getting prospects to commit ahead of time is a powerful opportunity to build the client relationship the way you want it. Get them in the door, get them excited about working with you, educate them and show them what to expect in the coming months.
Make sure you have everything you need (and they have everything they need) before you actually get started with them. It will save you time and effort and improve your systems and processes, and it will not only impress your new client, but will also begin your relationship on the right foot.