This is true no matter where and how they happen. But, these first interactions often hold numerous missed opportunities for improvement as well.
This evaluation phase gives you the opportunity to set your potential client’s expectations so they align with the way you do business.
During this time, they get a glimpse into the experience they’ll have if they decide to transition from a potential customer to an actual paying client.
They come with preconceived ideas about your industry.
They already think (whether it’s true or not) that you’re going to be hard to work with, go over on budget, take forever, not let them have their own opinion, make their life easier, solve their marriage problems, etc.
Good or bad, it’s in their head. And there's a process to get them to think differently about you. That process is the “assess” phase.
You might have work that’s relevant and up to date, but your marketing materials might be out of date. What does that say about your work?
Is your website fresh with the newest project? Is your Instagram or Facebook showing progress at the latest home build, or highlights from your trip to market?
There are tons of ways you can help them understand what they’ll be getting into if they work with you on their project.
We all take different amounts of time to make a buying decision. From a few seconds at the gas station when you’re thirsty, to months and months when you’re deciding what car to buy.
We need to respect that the decisions our customers are making to work with us take time, and there’s a lot you can do during that time to help them decide whether you’d be a good fit for them or not. You should be able to judge (roughly) what that amount of time is for the different services you offer.
This is when potential clients are reviewing your website, your marketing materials and reviews of your products or services.
Do they get a good idea of what their experience is going to be like if they become customers? Let me rephrase that, don’t think in terms of what they’ll receive in the end (a new house, an updated living room, etc) but how they will FEEL when they do business with you?
Even if they’re coming as a referral from a past client, you need to be communicating clearly what the experience of working with you would feel like, be like, and result in, should they choose you.
What’s your process for onboarding new clients? Do you ever show this to the ones who are considering working with you? Put yourself in their shoes, they are considering possibly investing some of the largest amounts of money they ever have into something like building a home… I’d want to know every detail I could before saying yes to you.
These types of details don’t have to be saved for an intro consult on site. They can be, but why not put them out there front and center so clients begin to see what they’d experience. You have a great opportunity here to set the bar, high or low. Minimal info presented with an outdated pdf (that you’ve got to take 3 steps to download and receive) is not the BEST way to win new clients.
On the other end, too much information might overwhelm prospects, but I’d wager that if it’s organized nicely and easy to access and scan, they’ll find and dig deeper into the info they want, if you make it available to them.
What can you do today to improve this part of your customer's journey?
What would you need to update or add, or even take away, for this to improve for your clients?
Do parts of your marketing need to be made more clear for them to understand what you do?
Could your website be updated to be easier to navigate and more presentable?
Do you need to record some quick videos of your process, happy clients, or frequently asked questions?
Taking time to improve this piece of your client's journey will only benefit you in the long run. Your customers will come to you with a better idea of what to expect when they work with you, which will result in happier owners and happier clients.