Evaluating prospects

Last week I shared my project inquiry form, which is the first step in the process anyone has to take to work with me.

But between that and our first call (which I’ll discuss next week) there are quite a few little things I think are extremely important.

Now, I’m not someone who’s all-in on automating the bejesus out of everything — but of any of the parts of my business, the sales process has the most automations.

This is mostly due to the fact that I want to track every lead I get, where it came from, and how many of them close. This helps me focus on the strategies that work, and tweak (or dump) the rest.

Thanks to a modified version of Noah’s Agency X-Ray, the tracking systems are all in place — but I found I am just terrible at manually entering any of this data, and if that’s the only option, I fall off the wagon pretty quickly.

People who fill in my form get added into my Airtable base (with every bit of information they submit), and I get a task in my todo list to fill in the bits that need to be done manually.

On top of that, my modifications have implemented the gamification / points system from my Prospect Pipeline Challenge so I can easily see how my pipeline is being maintained.

While all that happens in the background, I do need to manually assess the lead and figure out if it’s someone I want to pursue or not.

If the project seems interesting, they have good answers to my questions, and I could see myself working on this project, then I’ll send them my “Get to Know You Invite” email (which I have saved inside a TextExpander snippet.

This email, essentially, thanks the prospect for reaching out and invites them to book a time in my calendar so we can discuss their project in a little more detail and get to know each other.

But if the project doesn’t look like a good fit for me, then I send them one of two additional scrips I have prepared.

The first is an email that lets them know I’m not a good fit, but gives them a list of people they might reach out to instead. Inside our TABLE groups, we have a directory of all the members, their skills, tech stack, and ideal clients — and I can quickly grab the details of a few members from that list to send as a referral. Having a short list of folks to refer out to is super handy!

The other is just a kind “thanks, but no thanks” email that lets them know I won’t be able to help with this project. This is the email I send out if the client seems like a nightmare or the project looks like a mess (the kind of thing I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy).

Here’s a copy of all three of the emails.

The key with this process, to me anyway, is having all of these emails already written and ready to go. I’m not agonizing over the decision for hours — I’m taking a quick look, making a decision and rapidly firing off a pre-written reply.

Not only does this help me get through the process faster (cause writing those emails from scratch each time is a total pain in the arse!), but it provides a consistent process that I can track and measure in my Airtable base.

I’ve found the sooner you can get this email out, the better. I’ve heard from a lot of business owners that they have been waiting days or even weeks to hear anything back — and being quick to respond can go a long way in building some trust immediately.

Next week I’ll run you through how I conduct the get to know you meeting, including the agenda, questions I ask, and what I say to end the call that helps me insure I don’t waste one more second on a prospect that isn’t all but guaranteed to close. And, this is all done in less than 30 minutes.

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