Let’s face it, you want clients to call asking for help. The idea of attracting new clients without direct outreach is appealing. That’s why I was surprised by how poorly professional firms handled some recent enquiries I made.
I’m in the process of buying a house. It’s not something I’ve done for 20 years. Back then I used my family’s solicitors because that was the only option. Nowadays, because conveyancing is basically a process that can be streamlined and commoditised, there is lots of competition. I decided to evaluate local solicitors verses specialist online service and see how they stacked up from a sales perspective.
The online services were pretty much what you might expect. Efficient, no frills, and competitive, with fees around 25% lower than a local solicitors. I wasn’t totally convinced and found them a little too aggressive for my taste.
So, I called a few local solicitors to comparison shop. I wanted to see how they differentiated what they offer and see how they might add value. I was generally disappointed with what I found.
This is what I learnt, from a sales perspective, about what they got wrong. And how I wanted to be handled as a sales enquiry.
- Ditzy receptionists just don’t work for me. At least sound organised, even if your not. A receptionist should be able to work out who I need to talk with. Best practice would be to give me their name and then put you through.
- Voicemail is acceptable. You’re busy. I don’t expect you to be at your desk waiting for my call. But I do expect a voicemail service giving me the option to leave a message. It’s not the 1980’s – use the technology.
- Don’t let the phone ring out for three minutes and then redirect me back to the receptionist so they can write down a message. That’s wasting everyone’s time.
- Make sure your gatekeeper has a friendly manner. A sense of humour helps. If a gatekeeper sounds miserable then they probably are. I don’t want to spend time on the phone with miserable people.
- Show me you’re responsive. Getting a quotation to me within 1/2 a day of my enquiry is good, within 24 hours is acceptable. More than that and I’m getting inpatient.
- I like proactive, but don’t harass me. Calling me an hour after I’ve had an online quote is too quick. You don’t have my permission. Waiting more than 48 hours is too long. I want interested but not pushy, try to strike a balance.
- Don’t be afraid to sell your unique advantage. If you’re pricing is higher than comparable services I want you to explain how you add extra value.
- Flexibility is important. If there is no additional added value for the service expect me to ask for a price match. If I’m an existing client it is particularly important that you find a way to close the deal and keep me onboard.
I won’t name and shame any specific firms – but I did call four. They just weren’t doing some of the basics well. There was simply a reluctance to engage with me as a human being, demonstrate empathy and expertise, find out what I value, and help me decide.
Which poses the question. What experience do you give your inbound prospects?
Imagine an inbound sales lead, calling your office. Use this 7-point checklist and see how you score – even if you are a solo practitioner, operating from a laptop and mobile phone.
- What does your voicemail say? How is it helpful?
- Is your telephone manner friendly and warm?
- How focused are you on the prospects needs?
- How responsive are you?
- Do you make small promises that develop trust?
- Do you subtly position and sell your uniqueness?
- How easy do you make it to close the deal?
Let me know what your reflections are, and what you might change as a result.
The bottom line
Get real: All Front and Back Stage interactions have an impact – some are positive.
Get prepared: Think through every ‘touch-point’ a client might have with you.
Get savvy: Prospects can experience your added value right from the outset.
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