“The early bird gets the worm,” is more than only a trite cliché. It’s a reality that can, if ignored, bite a professional services provider in the hind quarters.
Though you don’t have to respond immediately to every inquiry that comes your way, you need to RSVP to new opportunities as quickly as you can. Why? It’s likely that your prospects are reaching out to multiple professionals at the same time. If it’s the first time you’ve heard from them, it’s doubtful that they are completely sold on you and your capabilities. Assume that they’re also reaching out to your competitors so they can compare and contrast to determine who will be the best fit.
First impressions count
When prospects are sizing up potential providers, making a stellar first impression can set you apart. And being quickly and respectfully responsive to their initial inquiries is one way to make that ever-important first impression.
Just recently, a prospect emailed me about her needs for press release content. I was busy working on projects during the day, but as soon as I saw her email later in the afternoon, I replied to thank her for her interest in my services and to set up a call to learn more about her needs. To me, responding to a new opportunity after almost an entire day had gone by seemed a little slow on the go, but to my surprise, she replied to me with sheer gratitude for my timely attention. After talking with her by phone the next day, I learned that her past experiences with other professionals left her with lowered expectations for the timeliness of a return email.
An open door to differentiation
How sad. But what an opportunity for solopreneurs who don’t take prospects’ patience for granted! By taking the initiative to respond either the same day or within 24 hours of an inquiry, you can establish yourself as a responsible and reliable services provider. Through the simple gesture of showing respect and demonstrating that you value the potential of working with someone, you instantly give yourself credibility – and a fighting chance of getting the business. I believe it absolutely helped me secure a working relationship with the client I was just speaking about. And, now that I think of it, I suspect it has helped close deals with some of my other clients as well.
Don’t underestimate the importance and power of the RSVP! Though other factors come into play, your responsiveness to new prospects will definitely put the odds of landing new business in your favor.
Your turn! How long does it typically take you to respond to new prospects? Know anyone who has lost prospective business because they weren’t responsive?
Image courtesy of smarnad / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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