Get Ready to Receive a Sudden Influx of New Clients
Part One in the Four-Part Feature Article Series on
How To Receive and Manage a Sudden Influx of New Clients
What you expect will happen influences what DOES happen, so expect a sudden influx of new business and plan NOW for what you need to do manage them. With this thought in mind, I’ve written a four-part series on how to receive and manage a sudden influx of new clients. This is Part One: Get Ready to Receive a Sudden Influx of New Clients.
The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining. – John F. Kennedy
Are you ready for an increase in business? I think I just heard a resounding “yes, please!” You may desire to grow your business, but are you really ready to handle it?
Don’t wait until you have a sudden influx of new business knocking at your door to start preparing for that demand. Get you and your business in shape to receive and service those new clients before you see them marching down the road to meet you.
If you were to get three new clients at the same time, would you be thrilled or overwhelmed? Both? Typically, once you started working with a client you establish a groove. There is a ramp-up process and learning curve associated with bringing on a new client that can make bringing on multiple clients at once a bit overwhelming for anyone. That is why it is especially important that you make it as easy and efficient as possible to be able to handle that situation when it occurs.
Noah did not wait to start building the ark until the flood came. He started years beforehand, and I bet he was glad he was prepared!
When preparing your business for a large amount of growth, there are a handful of things to consider off the bat. Ask yourself these questions to start getting ready for that influx of new clients:
What is my contact/response method and time?
Whether you sell services or products or both, you probably have a way for people to contact you. If not, decide what way or ways you would like for people to be able to connect with you (e.g. website, office phone, mobile phone, email, fax, etc). Most people who are interested in my services contact me by phone, email or through my contact form on my website. I have a goal to respond to all messages within 48 hours at the latest. This means I check email and phone messages regularly and prioritize new potential clients over unimportant or non-urgent emails and phone messages.
It’s important to have a clear approach for handling messages (whatever the medium) to help you prioritize and make it easier to get in touch with people who want to do business with you.
What is the first step I take when I receive an inquiry?
Once you are clear on how people contact you and you have a tool/support system that captures that communication (e.g. voicemail, email, administrative support), you must know what you will do with that person interested in what you are offering.
I have coached several clients with start-up businesses who are primarily focused on their branding, marketing and office supplies. These are wonderful and necessary priorities, yet when I ask them, “what will you say and do when someone says ‘yes’?”, they often give me an uncertain stare. Luckily that doesn’t last long, as I encourage them to think about some specific things they already do or that make sense to do when a new client comes their way.
Whether you are a startup or a veteran business owner, you need to decide your first step in bringing a qualified buyer through your sales process. The exact first step you take with a potential prospect will vary depending on your product or service, the nature of your relationship with the prospect, and what they are inquiring about, among other things. For example, when I receive an inquiry to discuss coaching I respond by email or phone (depending on the method used by the prospect) and schedule an introductory coaching phone session. I have learned through the years that this is my best way to qualify my prospects to ensure we are the right fit for each other. My response varies when I receive unspecific inquiries that require further information. For example, I have received vague emails from individuals wanting to meet for coffee. I enjoy getting to know new people, while I also value my time, so this type of inquiry would warrant an email response to understand more about the purpose of the conversation and how the individual came to connect with me. This information provides valuable insight into what my next step should be.
Know what you will do with your new inquiries and start implementing it now.
What are the necessary forms or tools I need (or use) to bring on a new client?
Once you have a way and system for people to contact you and you know your first steps to respond to new inquiries, identify what forms or tools you need to bring on a new client. Assuming you converted your prospect to a client, you need to know what your new client on-boarding steps are and create forms to support those. I won’t get into process development details here. Rather, I will suggest that you simply identify what steps you take to formalize your new client relationship or confirm your product purchase. Many service providers use contracts and client agreements, assessments and service plans. If you already have these documents, review them and make necessary updates to reflect your current procedures and policies. If you need forms or special tools prior to agreeing to work with a client or customer decide what those are and start building.
Also consider the forms of payment you accept. Do you have a merchant account or PayPal account? It’s important to know if your target clientele prefers to pay via credit card or another form. A benefit of only accepting checks is that it does not involve the credit card fees and processing time. The downside is that is requires trips to the bank for deposits, and because you are dependent on the payee to write the check and deliver it to you, it could mean you have to request payment more than once and/or wait longer to receive it (e.g. if by mail). Consider the forms of payment that make sense for your business and make it part of your policy to streamline your payment process so taking payments from a new client is seamless.
Asking yourself these three simple questions can make you aware of holes or weaknesses in your new client receiving and management process. When your business takes off, these weaknesses could cause confusion and disruptions and contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed.
Remember, setting your business up for success will only make your life that much easier when success comes – and it will! Check out Part Two in this series. If you do not get the Fab Fempreneurs monthly eZine, be sure to sign up in the box on the home page slide. As a thank you I’ll send you my free gift!