Every time a business approaches us for a web site project, we interview the prospect and ask the prospect to complete a lengthy questionnaire. Some balk at the request, but we explain that we do this for two reasons:

  1. By asking you to outline your goals and needs, you establish greater clarity on what you want to build. You avoid surprises, misturns, backtracking, and other time-gobbling, budget-crushing mistakes.
  2. We can’t tell you whether and how we can help you (and how much it might cost) unless we’re clear about what you need.

My friend Russ Henneberry nails that second point in his blog post:
A Powerful, Lucrative and Authentic Way To Respond To a New Lead

Russ writes that you become a “trusted adviser rather than a needy salesperson” when you tell prospects you will listen to their needs and then determine if you are a good fit. Amen!

A pre-engagement survey is just one way to do this. As you communicate with prospects and clients via email, social media, face-to-face, or over the phone find opportunities solicit their feedback; ask them about their challenges and goals; learn about them. In many cases, you’ll learn that someone needs a product or service you sell before that person even approaches you to discuss it.

When people click a link in an email, answer a survey question, respond to one of our tweets, or comment on one of our blog posts, we learn something about them. That knowledge instructs us if and when those people reach out to us. But it also helps us to decide whether and when we should reach out to them. We call this separating prospects from suspects. 

When someone downloads our free report with subject line tips, we know that person probably wants to improve response rates for email campaigns. When someone clicks the link in our email newsletter about how to design web sites for mobile devices, we infer that person wants a better web site. When someone answers the survey we attach to our email newsletter and says he wants to reduce customer churn, we have learned something very specific about that person and can offer better, more relevant advice to him.

This is not about being sneaky. When we follow-up with people who click or respond or post, we start by asking them to elaborate. “Tell us more about what you want or need,” we say. This is about listening to your prospects and clients. It’s about identifying who has a need so you can focus on people who are more likely to need your products and services (true prospects). It’s about following-up as a trusted adviser, not a needy salesman.



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