It does seem logical to communicate with a prospect or client in the same way they’ve communicated with us (i.e. they send us an email, we answer by email, etc.) but experience has taught me, many times, this is often not the best choice.
Every medium (email, text, phone, video conferencing, postal service) has its strengths and weaknesses. When our prospects or clients approach us with a question or comment, it’s up to us, the experts, to identify and use the best medium to effectively communicate our knowledge. My thanks to Pamela MacKinnon of Revive Home Staging Inc for providing a perfect story as illustration:
I often get emails which basically include only one question: “How much is your consultation?” In the past, I have written back a long email explaining my fees and what clients can expect. When I don’t receive a response, I feel that I missed out on an opportunity to connect and educate the value that home staging provides. I’m now saying, “Let’s meet for a chat to discuss what I can do for you.” What suggestions do you have?
Pam is certainly correct to move away from email, which doesn’t allow her to “hear” the real reason the prospect is asking about her consultations. They could be a real estate agent collecting estimates, they could be a competitor researching the marketplace, or they could be a potential client who should be provided with more detailed information.
When I receive similar emails my reply is, “Thanks for your interest in The Phone Lady. The next best step is for us to have a brief conversation so that I can provide you with accurate pricing based on your specific needs. I have availability this Thursday afternoon or Friday morning. What works best with your schedule?”
I suggest a phone call not only because I enjoy phone conversations but because it is the most efficient way for both myself and the prospect to communicate. Getting together for coffee sounds deceptively quick and easy but, in reality, involves getting to the coffee shop, parking, having the conversation, getting back to our offices, and refocusing on other projects – often a commitment of two or three hours.
If my request for a phone conversation is met with silence, I don’t consider it a lost opportunity. When a prospect is unable to speak to me on the phone for a few moments, they aren’t ready to work with me; they aren’t my ideal client.
Do I *chase* them? Yes, a bit. I will send more than one request for the phone call, in case an email has gone to spam or been missed. And if there’s a phone number in their email message, I will definitely call them. But if I don’t get a response, I move on without regret.
Our aim for every client is an excellent return on their investment in us. I’ve learned, the hard way, if a prospect is unable to speak with me on the phone and discuss their challenge, I won’t be able to create that ROI.
What’s been your experience?