One of the biggest let downs any professional experiences, is seeing a prospective client walk away without agreeing to do business. That’s assuming he kept the initial appointment in the first place. You’ve committed your two most important assets (time and money) to generating new clients. You’ve arranged your office and conference room for maximum impact. You’ve orchestrated key facts to differentiate you and planned your discussion points. But when the initial meeting concludes, your prospective client simply leaves. If that’s happening more than you think it should, it’s time to focus on improving your new client-closing rate.
I’m a process and metrics guy. I’ve worked with clients to help them focus on a few important steps, or missteps, to improve the overall performance of their businesses. It’s a cliché but I’m going to say it anyway, for most businesses, new clients are the lifeblood of a successful venture. When you stop to consider all of the effort that goes into securing those new business relationships, seeing them slip away is a painful reality.
I read an article in a 2013 edition of Trial magazine that stated, “the overall cost to acquire a lead is somewhere between $250-$300. Unfortunately, the average law firm only successfully closes about 20% of those leads.” Regardless of your type of business, similar metrics probably hold true. Then factor in your staff’s time to field the call, time spent scheduling and preparing for the meeting, and the necessary work to follow up and eventually close the deal. Generating a consistent flow of new client leads might be a significant waste of time and money if your ability to convert those leads is low.
Many professionals measure the number of leads generated. That’s a good start. But I recommend also monitoring the number of no-shows. You’ve already spent time and money getting the appointment. Converting that prospect into a client is now your primary goal. Establish your benchmarks and then take steps to improve your conversion rate.
Here are 5 steps to implement to improve your new client-closing rate:
- Make sure you secure an email address from your prospective client during the initial intake. Your staff is used to getting contact numbers, but an email address opens up your ability to leverage a few more tools you can use to your advantage.
- Once there’s an appointment on the calendar, immediately send an introductory email. Think of it as an early thank you note. This individual just agreed to give you one of his/her most important assets: time. Remember, you don’t “deserve” this client, he/she doesn’t have an emotional commitment to you, and he/she hasn’t agreed to retain you, yet.
- Consider including a brief video so you can deliver some basic information “in person.” Maybe you’ve recently written a blog post or article relevant to your prospect’s situation. You can use your video to encourage him to visit specific areas of your website/blog. Remember to thank her for placing trust in you. Your objective (at this point) is to help this individual become familiar with you and most importantly, to keep that initial appointment.
- Have your staff send an appointment reminder 2 days before the scheduled meeting, and then either the evening before or morning of the actual appointment. You might have your staff do this either via text message or an email. In today’s environment, a text is an accepted way to communicate. There are automated programs you can utilize to handle this task.
- Make sure you have a plan for post-meeting follow-up. Establish a firm understanding of your next steps. Send a thank you message including a couple high-level points from your discussion. It’s a great opportunity for another quick video. Consider sending a summary email of the discussion. Use this opportunity to remind your prospect of the comments they liked. Above all, re-enforce the bond the two of you established.
I’ve often found that most of my clients are pretty good at getting the person to sign up, once they actually have a chance to speak face to face. Many seasoned attorneys and other professionals have an effective “take down speech.” If it’s a case they want, they know how to get it. In that situation, the math is simple. If you want to develop your business by generating new clients, focus on making sure your first-time appointments actually occur. It may sound overly basic, but you’d be amazed at how important this step really is. Improving your new client-closing rate all starts with getting them to actually show up.