This is a simple yet very effective way of booking in new clients after they have contacted you.
You’ll see “the difference that makes the difference” quite easily here, and it builds on two things we already know: first, the often lengthy and emotional process your prospective client has gone through before getting in touch with you, and second, that rapport is the key to building a relationship. Let’s look at this in the form of a case study.
Richard is 27 years old and has suffered with mild stress-related depression for about three months. He’s finally seen his GP, with encouragement from family and friends to “get help”, and the doctor has suggested Richard tries adopting life-style changes and possibly sees a professional practitioner before trying medication.
Richard goes online and completes enquiry forms on four practitioner's websites. You are the fourth he emailed. His email arrives at 8pm on a Friday night after you’ve got home from work.
What would you do now?
Be honest. How would you handle that enquiry; when and how would you respond; and what are your chances of turning Richard into a client? Write down your answer.
This is how it works.
Step 1 – Acknowledge and respond
Always carry a mobile phone/iPad that has an electronic version of your diary on it and enables you to pick up emails. Assuming you check your phone for emails every hour or so, email a confirmation response immediately. In Richard’s case this is going out around 9pm or 10pm on Friday night. Give him the option to take a call from you within the next 24 hours – suggest 11am the next morning – so you can discuss his requirements in more detail.
This lets him know you have received his enquiry and – Wow! You’ve responded immediately, even late on a Friday night. You really do look like a practitioner who puts their clients first. He confirms he can talk to you. After waiting months, Richard now has an appointment to speak with you in person at 11am. He can relax and talk at his own pace as it’s a Saturday morning.
Step 2 – Your 20-minute free initial consultation
Call Richard promptly at 11am as arranged. Allow at least 20 minutes for the call and tell Richard you offer a free initial 20-minute telephone consultation and ask him if he would like to conduct that now. (In the majority of cases the client will take you up on this offer, if not you simply re-appoint for a more convenient time.)
This session really helps you understand their specific needs and lets you begin to give some thought about how you might help them. Very importantly from your perspective it gives you the opportunity to build high levels of rapport and get to know your future client.
During this conversation you need to ensure three things happen:
1. You are genuinely interested in Richard’s requirements.
2. Reassure Richard you can help and he will be fine.
3. Explain you are running a very busy practice, however due to his circumstances you will fit him in, even if it has to be over the weekend or late in the evening.
A little reverse psychology always helps, as it is human nature to want what you can’t have. When your practice is busy, the perception is that you must be good at what you do and it adds to your credibility.
Most importantly you have just spent a valuable 20 minutes building rapport. In any sales or service industry rapport is key in establishing trust and relaxing your client, enabling them to make sensible decisions. Also you have had 20 minutes to sell yourself and your services to Richard, with no hurry and no pressure, and within 24 hours of his initial enquiry. How powerful is that?
Step 3 – Offer something for free
During your consultation you will be continually building rapport and listening to him. Give him some free tips as you speak: strategies to help him immediately, perhaps some recommended reading to help him understand his situation better, or something he can buy or some exercises he can do, to help him before he sees you.
In addition ask him to drop you an email with a full description of his situation as he sees it, including a full timeline to show when he first started experiencing stress and depression symptoms. Explain that this information will help you prepare for your session together and you can then spend the full hour working on helping him rather than on basic fact-finding.
Following on the free stuff and the homework, you are going to ask for the appointment.
“How urgently would you like to be seen? As it’s urgent Richard, I can fit you in next Thursday at 10am or Friday evening at 7pm. If it can wait and isn’t so urgent, how about a week on Wednesday at 10am, or a week on Thursday at 5pm?”
If you follow this process exactly and each step goes according to plan, you’ll have secured Richard as a client and have your first appointment booked.
Imagine if you used this technique with every enquiry. Once you had mastered each step you could be confident of achieving a practitioner proficiency rate of enquiry to appointment of 100%. Imagine what that would do for your practice. You would simply then need to review your strategy of getting clients to your website and through to the enquiry stage; because once they enquired you would be completely confident in securing an appointment.
Richard’s other three emails
Richard emailed four practitioners, you were the fourth. This is what happened with the other three.
Enquiry 1: Practitioner waited until their practice was open again and called Richard at 2pm Monday afternoon.
Enquiry 2: Practitioner responded immediately to Richard, thanking him for his enquiry and confirmed she would be in touch the following week to make an appointment.
Enquiry 3: Practitioner picked up the enquiry from Richard on Monday and acknowledged his email, asking him to contact the practice to make an appointment.
So who won the client? Remember this is what most clients go through when looking for a practitioner.
Mark has been using this three-step approach for six years and his enquiry to appointment rate is 98%. He teaches this approach on all his courses and when coaching practitioners. In every case performances dramatically improve.