What is a prospective client?
The answer to this question requires a little background knowledge. Generating leads does not mean you automatically have clients.
According to legal advice, there must be an exchange of conversation, where both parties agree to begin forming a professional relationship.
The lines can blur during the dialogue because the consultant has one mindset. On the other hand, the prospective client (PC) has another set of thoughts.
Initially, business type conversation occurs somewhat naturally. As a consultant, you observe the problem or weakness in the prospective client business.
Multiple conversations take place. Then, there’s agreement to progress with more specifics on how to help move the business along.
Consultants recognize urgently pressing needs for the prospective client.
We automatically have a keen eye to notice inconsistencies, flaws with marketing, lack of alignment, where the problems mostly exist in a business’ executed plan; and most importantly, we’re thinking ahead with a plethora of solutions in mind.
Consultants have already evaluated and exhausted what’s in front of us for business owners. For instance, we’ll perform an initial analysis of social media platforms, search engine results, websites and reviews.
We have one aim–one goal, which is to help increase every company’s numbers, reach, exposure and sales. We’re determined to fix the marketing side of the business.
A Lead Not A Prospective Client Case Study
Over the course of three months, there was a sporadic exchange in conversation with a lead. I cannot call it a prospective client because it doesn’t fit the legal definition.
Before three months, I included the lead in a few free weekly marketing tips. The lead responded with excitement to receive valuable information.
One particular marketing tip shifted into a lengthy conversation about areas needed for improvement in the lead’s business.
We agreed to move forward with a working capacity with a limited investment. Although this agreement was in writing, we did not set an official date to begin work.
When working with clients, it is important to have legally approved proposals and contracts.
One of the first areas I tackled was the legal side. I researched clients rights and my rights to avoid litigation as much as possible.
I wrote up my proposals and contracts in three days. After diligent research, I decided to write them and asked a lawyer to evaluate and peruse them.
A good lawyer will take you into court per se. I felt like I was in the “stands.” This is how thorough and accurate a good lawyer will be when combing through your the relevant legal documents.
As time progressed, the lead and I engaged in another conversation that went something like this.
The conversation that teaches the difference between a lead and prospective client.
Me: “Hi (Lead’s name)! How are you? I am calling to follow-up with our conversation about my services with your business.”
Lead: “Oh, yes! Hi, Jacqueline! Thanks for the call. Great hearing from you.”
Me: “I’ve noticed that you’re doing great things in the online area of your business. It has such great potential for more, and I’d hate to see you not know how to leverage it for more reach, exposure, and generation of leads.”
Lead: “Yes, you’re right! Believe it or not, I just had three people talk to me about this two days ago. I know this call is necessary.”
Me: “Good to hear! Are you free Monday to have a further conversation about this?”
Lead: “Sure! Absolutely! How’s 5 PM EST?”
Me: “Got it on the calendar! We’ll talk then. Enjoy the rest of your day!”
Lead: “You do the same! And, we’ll talk on Monday at 5 PM.”
Monday arrives, and we speak for 52 minutes. I begin with asking the lead to tell me more about business and its weaknesses.
With my pen in hand and notebook ready for tattooing, I write vicariously on purpose with intentions not to miss anything.
At this point, the question comes to mind, is this lead now a prospective client?
I conclude, there is a shift to a prospective client and consulting. (1) There have been multiple conversational exchanges. (2) On two occasions we agreed to move forward in a professional capacity.
Here’s where I began to treat this former lead as a prospective client by offering more specifics during our consultation about business alignment for the plan and goals.
I did not mention payment. Part of my initial services includes a free 30-minute consultation. Consultants are prepared to go over 30 minutes at times depending on the nature of the conversation.
Plus, after the free consultation, experts stand ready to make other offers that will fit the needs of the prospective clients. These offers may include:
- an hourly rate that’s affordable
- a private small facebook group for a small fee
- a course to use self-paced for a small fee
As the conversation progressed, I learned that this prospective client already had in mind to use another source for marketing.
Don’t be alarmed. This can happen.
However, the prospective client offered to make a small investment from the value received on the initial call.
I asked how much was in mind to submit to service; the reply was a rather low fee–much lower than my regular hourly rate and course.
The prospective client remarked, “I’m not sure if this is an insult.” It wasn’t, but I knew we agreed that my suggestions were of great value, so, therefore, I asked for much consideration of a half-way amount of my standard charge.
We agreed. But, I knew this was a new experience for this prospective client. I also determined that I should have provided some background information on how consulting services are offered and how they work.
Lesson Learned with Prospective Client
Our relationship hasn’t been affected. However, I have learned something precious. This experience allowed me to see how the prospective client is not the only newbie who comes across as knowing what to expect.
Then, during the conversation, exposure shows this is the prospective client’s first encounter with expert help and advice.
Everyone will not admit that they don’t know how consulting works. As experts, we must include a question like “Have you ever received consultation services or worked with an expert for your business needs?” I believe this helps both people to better gauge how to move forward.
Finally, many times consultations can take unexpected turns. When offers become more conversational and less pitched, it’s easy to think both parties are riding the same wave.
Don’t take for granted that a lead or prospective client knows everything about consulting. Many small business owners have no clue as to how it works.
Some business owners never use consultation services and walk blindly into them. You must take newbies by the hand.
Show and teach them about how “honest” consultations operate. If they offer to pay you something below your usual rate, it’s because you didn’t communicate effectively and they haven’t traveled down this road. It’s our job to help them.
Images are courtesy of Pixabay