Common Mistakes: Not Setting a Clear Protocol for How to Handle First Contact from Potential Clients


(Image via Ken Banks)

Every single inquiry is different. That does not mean you should not have a clear protocol for how to handle that initial call or email.

Here are some suggestions from me to you:

1. Make sure there is always someone (especially you) answering your phone at least 10 hours a day. You do not want that original call to go to a voice mail. A lot of new clients simply hang up and call the next vendor who actually answers.

2. When you answer in a very pleasant voice, you should always sound like you have all the time in the world. No new client wants the impression you are just fitting them in.

3. Getting information is essential in this first call. You could have a questionnaire form you ask in a very conversational tone. For example: name, email, address, type of event, number of guess, location etc.

4. If possible, do not discuss money in this original call. It is best to do that in person. However, if the potential client brings this up, make sure you are prepared to offer your rates.

5. Try to establish a personal connection over the phone in this first call. In my experience, most potential clients are more than eager to talk about their events with excitement. Encourage them.

6. Very gently ask them how they found out about you. If someone recommended you, it is always good to send them a thank you note or email.

7. Make sure you find out the client’s likes and dislikes. This helps you prepare to make a better make sale by showing them only what they like.

8. The most important step in that first contact is to make sure you set up a face to face meeting with the potential client. This is important, because in these meetings you are going to charm them into getting the job. In that face to face meeting, make sure you have lots of samples of your work and services to show them.

9. Send the potential client a thank you note or email telling them how much you enjoyed meeting them, and that you are very excited about the project.

10. Be honest with your potential client by saying something along the lines of, “I’d love the opportunity to have you as my client. I know I can do a great job.”

What is your number one issue for not getting a job? If you see 10 potential clients what do you think is the average number you get as a client?

Of course, in a perfect world it would be great to get them all, but in my 30 years of being in business, that never happens.