Looking for some suggestions on how to get, manage, and effectively turn warm leads into “a client on your table”? I’ve got some practices, here, in lead gathering and use that apply to primarily a sole-proprietorship but can also apply to any business.
Even before I started professionally practicing massage therapy, I knew I had to get as many people on my table as possible, and the more diverse in body type, considerations, and client goals, the better – I was going to open my own private practice someday.
But, before I even got out into the massage therapy world after my basic training, I knew that I had to come out from under my shell..and actually talk to people to get them on my table. Student Clinic prepared me for that one-on-one interaction and encouraged me to get my hands on as many people as possible AND gave me a tool to keep track of everyone I had on my table [during Clinic]…and off the table [that I had talked with about massage therapy].
In the beginning, and with people that I talked to (trying to get them on my table) understanding that I was “new”, I had a hard time getting contact information, much less talking about what I would do with it once I got it from that person.
I thought a good method would be to direct “people on the street” to my website, where they could sign up for an occasional newsletter that I would publish and learn more about me – that way I could get their email address.
Then I thought, a good way to get “people at gigs where I was doing chair massage” to get on my table was to include a space for the chair client’s email address and permission to contact them on the release form.
Then I thought, why don’t I get “people at a wellness event/fair” to sign up for my contacting them via email.
These, unfortunately for me I learned, were really permanent warm leads that I was creating. However, the web-disseminated information about massage therapy I did create to serve these warm leads allowed others who would search for a massage session and become my client find me (based on relevant search results, in “massage”) through my various (and consistent) business listings and profiles, and book with me based on my web presence or presentation.
Following are some practices I use to effectively and for-the-long-term interact with potential clients and some techniques I use to create, through my database information, working relationships as “people who get on my table”:
Contact [Enrollment] – anyone is a potential client. Be aware that personal relationships can also be professional relationships and that your sister will eventually hold two or more roles in your professional practice: sister, client, referrer – be sure you put her in the appropriate-named database categories, too. Treat every Contact as your client, and treat their contact information, permission, and intent like gold – because it really is fortunate that they want what you have to give.
Creating a List – collect contact/business cards. If they don’t have one, ask for their name/phone #/email address [to write down] so you can keep in contact with them about that awesome, enthusiastic conversation you just had with them about massage therapy. Any other information you think is important to know/note: also include that in the information you collect.
Storing your List – when you get their phone number through their business card or verbal information, keep it in your phone or, better, an online service that is seen through and interacts with your phone/website. Often times when someone calls you, Caller ID may fail – if their name & phone number are already in your phone, you’ll know who it is right away and be able to minimize or avoid altogether that awkward feeling of that “I recognize your voice, but…who are you, again?” moment. Also: computer spreadsheets, paper spreadsheets, paper address books, contact databases in a local email client (Outlook, Eudora, etc) or online (Gmail, Yahoo, etc) are efficient ways to keep the information permanent – in electronic version, you’ll definitely want to BACK UP your information or print it out on paper every once in a while to assure you never lose it.
Using your List – regarding contact information: if you have the ability to categorize your contacts easily, do. I separate non-clients and clients in my database with color coded categories in Outlook for easy access later, for things like creating client letters, broadcast announcements, and the like. Regarding email addresses you got in an online form: I use Google’s Feedburner to automatically send out my blog website’s RSS feed entries to my Feedburner-subscribed email list. This is so I know that everyone interested in the information but who are not necessarily my client get the feed they subscribed to on my website. With Feedburner, I can manually enter email addresses that I have collected and have “permission to market” on file.
Once you have your contact list started, populated with people who are “warm” leads (aka, of whom you have not yet had the pleasure of meeting) and of whom you have permission to market, start the scheduled emails. Stay ahead of the game by always having more than enough articles to publish. If you have specials to promote, make sure that you include that information (maybe even a link to a permanent webpage featuring the details of the special) somewhere in the email.
Maintaining your List – the best rule of thumb that I have used is: take care of it now. Any delay in adding or removing a contact from your list only reflects on you as apathetic and uninterested in the needs/desires of your audience. Most email systems, like Feedburner, Constant Contact, Email Brain, will have automated unsubscribe links within each email sent – easy for the recipient to Unsubscribe if they want. But make sure manual entries and deletions to these permission-based list are done promptly – your efforts will be appreciated, leaving you looking professional…and possibly worth electronically- or professionally-reconnecting with at some point. I like the automated emails that state “did you mean to unsubscribe?” or “if you would like to re-subscribe at any time, please click this link” in the unsubscribe confirmation emails – I keep these for future (resubscription) intentions.
The following suggestions are based more on ethical considerations moreso than business practice or practice-building:
DOs – establish permission-based marketing
Collect business cards – it has always been my understanding that if someone gives me a business card, it is implied consent to contact them. That said, I only contact them with their business card information about the “thing that we talked about” when they gave me their card.
Use “sign up/in” sheets at events – include a space for [your client’s or potential client’s] email address AND indicate, somewhere on the form, that you’ll contact them [in the future] with…well, you decide: newsletter, specials, surveys, etc.
Create a form on your website that collects a visitor’s email address – when they are asked to sign up, they are usually promised something: a regular newsletter, specials notifications, first-time client offers, and the like. You can make it worth their while – to be in your database – if you personally email them an article you wrote, a “tips”/information sheet, or even an infographic you have permission to use or made yourself to connect their website entry with you personally.
DON’Ts – spam
Collect email addresses anonymously or “harvest” them from sites that explicitly state that using the information on the site in ways other than the purpose of the site (which is to connect massage therapist(s) to clients, for massage therapy purposes, et al). This type of information gathering is not permission-based and will get you blacklisted on the major email services (AOL, gmail, Hotmail, etc) or account terminated on web-based email list management services (Email Brain, Constant Contact, , etc) if you are reported as “spam” – to the ISP, mail service, or list management services through their no-spam “unsubscribe” policies.
Put people on lists that they did not sign up for. The fastest way to lose an electronic client…and possibly a live one…when they figure out you added them because they were in your database and not subscribed or interested in the information you started sending them.
Send too many communications by email/RSS feed – when you do more than monthly newsletters that have advertisement or promotion in them, “overbearing” comes to mind of the reader…and every time they see your email header in their Inbox. This results in a behavior modification that not only hurts your business but also your identity/reputation. If you send an article ONLY of interest to your email database – and make it relevant to the service and/or product you purvey in another space (like a booking webpage), link it in the footer or signature of every email you send out. I promise: people will always know where to find you when you are consistent in placing your contact information there.
Now, if you’ve read this far AND are not familiar with all these concepts, your head might be swimming – please ask questions, give suggestions, confirm/deny, or feel free to leave your favorite smoothie recipe below. Maybe you’ll be able to put down the Dramamine before you’re done typing 😛
What are some ways you collect contact information, methods you use to connect with warm leads, or “best practices” for maintaining a relevant database for your practice or business?