Your website is not meant to be your only means of qualifying prospects and closing the sale. That’s especially true for people who provide professional services. Unlike a book or a pair of shoes, which are the same regardless of where you buy them, professional services are personal. The value and usefulness of a consultant lies as much in the ability to make a meaningful connection with the client as it does in the uniqueness or insightfulness of the information shared. That means that for most prospects, they want to ‘interview’ you before they sign on the dotted line. And that requires a conversation.
Realize that in today’s internet-driven environment, most people turn to web searches and email before they bother to pick up a phone. So when a prospect takes the step of calling you, he or she is making an effort, going beyond the easy option. Odds are good he or she has done some homework, compared your firm to competitors, evaluated your testimonials and maybe even checked out your reputation. Placing a call is an indication of real interest in working with your firm.
Don’t kill the momentum by automatically telling them to find the answers for themselves on your website. Instead, listen for what your prospect is really asking and then tailor your conversation to what he/she needs. At the same time, realize that your prospect is evaluating you based on every part of the phone conversation. Was your greeting professional and welcoming? Do you sound annoyed at being bothered, or happy to talk with them? Are you interested in what they’re saying, or answering emails while they talk? You may be focused on qualifying them, but remember that at the same time, your prospect is qualifying you.
What do prospects want? It’s no big secret. Prospective clients want someone who will listen to them, who wants to help them, someone who has good ideas but can tailor those ideas to what the prospect needs. People want to work with people who are pleasant, respectful and responsive, who sound professional and show an appropriate sense of humor. We like people who are interested in us and passionate about what they do, who sound (and act) reliable and demonstrate experience. Your prospect is listening to see if you sound credible and show evidence of being a problem-solver, if you’re willing to give some information without nickel-and-diming them, if you seem honest and helpful.
Interpersonal communication is essential to turning a prospect into a client. It’s one of the key building blocks to establishing a professional relationship. Use your website as a funnel, not a fortress, and welcome the phone calls from prospects. That’s not the sound of a phone ringing; it’s money in the bank!