As small business owners, we don’t have time to spare. So, how about minimising the number of time-wasters among your potential clients and leads and focus on attracting more enquiries that convert?
Depending on what your small business does, the enquiry process can take a decent amount of time. It isn’t always a case of simply replying to the message itself – oftentimes you will have an initial consultation and possibly even draw up a full proposal and quote for the work. All of this is great if the enquiry converts into a new paying customer.
But when it doesn’t, it is one of the most frustrating aspects of running a business. The time and energy put into a dud enquiry could have been much better spent on other tasks. Putting in a lot of effort only to be rewarded with a “thanks but no thanks” can leave you feeling pretty disheartened.
The solution? Get the right people to get in touch from the start.
How? It sounds like an impossible task – people can be unpredictable. But the reality is, you can learn a whole lot from the customers who haven’t converted.
Like any other issue within your business, do some research into your past and current customers and leads, figure out what’s going wrong and change it. Here are some simple steps to take to reduce enquiries that don’t convert and free up your time to focus on those that do!
Why aren’t enquiries converting to paying customers?
There are a number of issues that could be responsible for a low conversion rate:
- Expectations: Customers are getting the wrong idea about the services you provide
- Rates: Your prices aren’t right – this could be that they are too low or too high
- Timing: Your lead time is too long and you can’t deliver the work in the time they need it
- Risk: They feel there is a certain risk involved – unhappy with your refund policy, terms and conditions, guarantees.
For each of the above stumbling blocks, and indeed for any issue a potential customer may encounter, there are steps you can take.
How to take action to prevent these issues from arising:
Confusion over your services
1. Communicate clearly: If customers are uncertain about the service you provide and approaching you for the wrong type of work, this suggests that there are issues in your website or advertising copy.
The issue could be that you haven’t gone into enough detail about your services. In that case, take the time to break down all of your offerings in a clear and concise way.
2. Too much jargon: Alternatively, you may have gone in the opposite direction and tried to say too much, using industry jargon that your customers can’t understand.
To fix this, try applying the “Granny test” to your copy. Would your grandmother, or someone else completely removed from your industry, be able to understand what you do from your current copy? If not, it’s time to rewrite.
3. Targeting everyone: Another issue could be that you have unintentionally misled a potential customer by trying to appeal to everyone. It’s tempting when you have a business to run, to try to keep things general in order to generate a higher number of enquiries. The problem is that once people touch base and get a clearer picture, they may feel you’re the wrong fit.
To fix this, be as honest as possible, managing customer expectations from the get-go! Mention any potential dealbreakers for you – it might feel awkward, but you’re doing both yourself and your clients a favour. Clarifying what you are and aren’t willing to do leads to more enquiries that convert into customers.
Your prices aren’t right for them
It’s frustrating to put all of your hard work out there and then have an enquiry fall through when it turns out the person is a price shopper. The fact is, there will always be people out there who prioritise getting the cheapest deal over everything else.
There are a few ways you can try to work around a fixation on price (which I go into detail on in my Price Shopper post and my post about how to compete on value rather than price). But in order to save yourself time, consider displaying your rates on your website and in your marketing materials:
- Show your rates (or a ballpark figure at least)
- Show when you charge – do you take payment upfront, is a deposit required, will payment be taken during/after completion of the work?
- Highlight any payment plans or alternative financing you have available
This way, there are no surprises. Displaying prices is something that many small business owners feel uncertain about (something I’ve discussed in my post about communicating your rates) – concerns about competitors having access or turning people off are common.
But really, what displaying your prices does is confirm that the people who are enquiring are the real deal. They know what to expect and believe that what you’re charging is reasonable for the work they are looking for.
You may generate fewer enquiries, but those that you do receive are far more likely to convert, ultimately saving you time.
Issues with Lead Time
Lead time issues are a common problem, but much like pricing, being upfront from the start can help avoid this. Customers with little experience in your area may have a totally unrealistic expectation of how quickly a project can be completed. Finding this out after you’ve drawn up a proposal is frustrating for you both.
1. Show availability: Much like your prices, consider showing your availability on your website. Highlight the hours/days/weeks (again, ballpark is fine) that a project is likely to take. By noting this and then having a calendar with availability accessible, potential customers can gauge from the start whether or not you are the right person for them.
2. Waiting list: Consider having a waiting list on your website. This allows customers who do wish to use your services to sign up, even in busy periods.
3. Incentives: Make it more palatable for customers to wait. Think about offering discounts to customers who select a later date.
4. Help them: Offer advice in the meantime. If you’re booked up for the next couple of months (hurrah!), don’t let that stop you from engaging with potential customers.
Explain why your work takes the time that it does, and offer up some tips to help them navigate their issues while they wait. This way, you’re forming a connection with them before you’ve even begun to work together.
4. Issues with Terms and Conditions
Depending on the services you provide, there can be an element of risk aversion which can halt a conversion. For example, you may require a non-refundable deposit to book in a piece of work.
Other issues could be reluctance to share necessary information with you (for example, product information for website design).
Again, the solution here is to be extremely clear in outlining any of these policies, making them impossible to miss on your website. As a result, customers will know about any conditions they may have to agree to before they even get in touch.
Over to you: Next Steps
Ultimately, the goal here is to cut back on the number of dud leads and increase enquiries that convert. Your services aren’t going to be for everyone – and that’s a good thing!
Having a niche and serving a specific client base is generally a much more successful strategy than attempting to please all. In that case, you often end up pleasing no-one. You’re aiming for quality over quantity when it comes to leads.
And finally – don’t be afraid to actively discourage people who would otherwise get in touch if you know it isn’t the right fit. There will be someone out there much better suited to their needs.
Making it clear who you are here to work with will save you a whole lot of time and energy. And don’t forget: the more you work with the right kind of people and businesses, the more you will enjoy your work.
To read more about attracting enquiries that convert, have a look at these:
Stop! What Are You Actually Selling?
How to Improve Your Customer Journey to Win Repeat Business
How to Get Repeat Business From Existing Customers
Ideal Clients: How to Define and Attract them to Your Small Business