5 Simple Strategies for Extending the Life of Potential Client Inquiries

5 Simple Strategies for Extending the Life of Every Potential Client Inquiry

It's no surprise if you're in business to have people inquire about your products and services. What may be surprising, is how to handle the inquiry so that you maximize the exposure to your business while also doing your due diligence to help the prospect solve their problem using your products and services.

One of the most essential skills to be learned in business is how to inspire the sale, which includes the entire selling process - from introduction and closure. Many entrepreneurs, because they don't feel comfortable selling, end up stopping the process before its maturation, costing them a new client.

My recommendation is to focus on the value you provide to the prospect and when leading with the value, ensure that you are helping them to understand that not only do you understand their problem, but you also have a solution that will change their current pain to pleasure.

When a prospect inquires about your products or services, there are five things that you should do so you can maximize the interaction and advance the process to inspire the sale:

1. As soon as they inquire, if not part of the inquisition process, begin a prospect profile. On this profile, be sure to collect as much information as you can about them and their challenges so you can validate if this is the type of client you've chosen to work with. Included in the necessary information should be:

  • a. Full name
  • b. Mailing address (for future direct mail marketing efforts)
  • c. Phone number
  • d. Email address
  • e. Reason for the inquiry (to help them, you can create a short list of the problems your ideal clients have before hiring you and then leave a small space for something other than the core problems you solve)
  • f. How they learned about you (this is so you can thank any referral partners appropriately)
  • g. What they are hoping to gain to consider their problem solved
  • h. Other things they've tried to solve the problem

2. Based on the scheduling process that you use, if the profile warrants the scheduling of a conversation, get it scheduled so you can talk with them to clarify the problems and offer how you can solve their problems using your products and services. In this conversation, be sure to share your solutions, while also offering the one you feel would be best for them based on how you understand their problem. (They see you as the expert, so they will be expecting your recommendation.)

3. During the meeting (in person or virtual) be attentive, ask key questions and summarize before you share your solution. When you share your solution, focus on the benefits and value, not the features and process. Seldom will the prospect care about the step-by-step, typically they want to know that their ultimate goal can be achieved using your product or services.

4. Ask for the sale by focusing on how your solution will lead to the achievement of their core goals concerning the problem area. Say something like, "I'd love to work with you, is now a good time to discuss my service options?" Listen and wait for their response.

5. After the meeting, enact your follow up strategy in this way:

  • a. Send a thank you card, a hand written note, thanking them for taking the time to meet with you. You may also opt to send them a small token of your appreciation but a handwritten note will go very far in the process.

  • b. As a 2nd thank you, opt for a video email or traditional email thanking them for meeting with you, summarizing the highlights of the discussion and next steps for each of you. Be sure to include the timeline you set to follow up for the decision. Include any documents you promised to send highlighting your products and services for their review.

  • c. Hold a follow-up call/meeting. If they're not ready to become a client, ask them when it's a good time to follow-up with them to see where they are in the process. I recommend following up every 60 days after that initial meeting until they say otherwise. Low hanging fruit is the easiest to pick and often the follow-up is what helps you seal the deal.

When you focus on creating a systematic approach to handling service inquiries, you will naturally extend the life of the inquiry and close more new clients.

©2012 by Darnyelle A. Jervey
Photography by Nolte Lourens

©2012 by Darnyelle A. Jervey. All Rights Reserved. Darnyelle A. Jervey, The Incredible Factor Business Mentor and Coach, is the founder of http://www.IncredibleOneEnterprises.com and the Leverage Your Incredible Factor System


4 Common Client Questions and How to Answer Them

If you're hesitant about marketing your professional services because you don't know what to say, this article will help. I advise that you anticipate and prepare responses to the most common questions a potential client might ask. This is just the same as preparing for a job interview - you give some thought to the typical questions and practice what you are going to say. Of course, you can't anticipate all the questions and you certainly don't want to come across like a robot, but it does help to be prepared. Here are four common questions you might be asked about your services, along with some suggestions on how to answer.

1. What do you do?

The key here is to keep it short and give concrete examples of what you help people with. Make your examples very specific and tailored to what regular people can relate to. Avoid technical or jargony language that potential clients will not understand.
The key thing to say is "I help _______ (type of person or business) with __________(what you help them with)."

2. How does that work?

Don't go into a long explanation of the process. A couple of short sentences will suffice.
"I meet with my clients and we set up a plan. Then I ________ (what you do for them)."

3. What's your background?

Again, keep it short and sweet. People don't want your entire career history. They ask this question for one of two reasons: 1) they're curious about your job and wonder how they could get into that line of work, or 2) they're intrigued by the idea of hiring you and want to know a bit more about you.
"I'm an experienced ________, and I specialize in ______. I've been doing this type of work for ___ years."

4. Can you help with _________?

Answer honestly but use your imagination. If it's clearly outside your area of expertise, say: "I don't help people with _______, but if you're interested I can probably recommend someone who does." If you're not sure if you can help, or you think the problem they have described might not be the root of the issue, say something like: "Tell me more about what's going on with _______ for you." If you know you can help, say: "Sure, that's exactly the type of thing I help with. Tell me more about what you want to achieve."

Keep in mind that when people ask you these type of questions, they aren't trying to test your knowledge or trip you up. They are simply curious. They want to learn more so they can decide whether hiring you would be of benefit to them. So keep your answers short and simple, and reply with a confident smile.

By Barbara Sundquist
Photography by Florian Ispas

Check out business consultant Barbra Sundquist's home business blog for practical advice on how to successfully run your business without having it run you. Barbra covers everything from marketing to setting up a business Paypal account.


How to Build Your Client Base With An Old Fashioned Simple Approach

Are you not closing as many clients as you used to? There could be a simple fix for the lower numbers. It does not have to do with numbers at all. In fact it is just the opposite. It has to do with plain old fashioned politeness. Can you adjust your approach, make these simple changes, and begin to rebuild your client base?

Lets look back to the beginning of your business journey. My educated guess is that you treated each new prospective client with respect and kindness, listened to them carefully, and provided for their each and every request. You were happy to do so.

As months rolled by and you accumulated more clients, your attention span per client began to dwindle. Your thought process became one of acquisition and moved away from retention. After all, the more clients you have the more money you will make. It became a matter of math and the importance of each client got lost in the number growth.

You have done the advertising and marketing. A prospect calls you and would like to meet. Great. Here are three simple yet highly effective steps to get you back on track.

1. Let them talk.

People have needs and one important one is to be listened to. People want to feel like they matter. They want to feel important. So let them feel important. When you ask them a question, let them answer. Let them talk.

This does two things. First, you can learn a great deal about a person when you truly are listening to them. There could be an insight gained which is valuable. Second, people like to talk about themselves. When people talk about themselves, they psychologically and subliminally like the person who is listening. So don't interrupt or give advice, just let them speak, listen carefully, and they will like you. All other things being equal, people will tend to do business with people they like.

2. Don't rush them.

You have spent lots of money and time on trying to acquire this new client. You are now actually meeting with her. Don't rush her through. Take the time necessary to learn all you can about this person and her [needs]. Don't schedule another meeting close to this one. Give plenty of time between if you need to schedule several in a day.

This also does two things. It makes her feel important and appreciated and it establishes you as someone who cares. In today's hyper connected and fast paced world, you actually slowed down and took the time necessary. Trust me when I say that fact is vitally important when building a long term relationship.

3. Put away your phone.

Repeat after me, don't ever talk, text, or email on your mobile device while with a prospect or client. Ever. In my opinion, few things are more rude.

Let's say you are in the middle of listening to her tell a story and your phone vibrates. Being the addict you are, you have to check it. Huge mistake. This immediately sends a negative message to the person you are with. In effect you are saying to her, 'this faceless person on my phone is more important to me right now than you are, even though I'm looking at you, even though you took the time to actually physically visit with me.' Actions speak louder than words.

Plus, if you don't take out your phone, you will stand out and stand apart from the crowd. Everyone else is so addicted to their phones and social behavior has become so rude that most people don't even think about it anymore.

When you give a potential client your full attention through listening, not rushing, and being polite by not using your phone, you will stand out and be way ahead of the crowd.
Three simple ways to stand out and build your client base. They are old school and time tested. They work. You just need to commit to them and you will see your growth and your retention rates rise. And those are numbers that do matter.

Keith Bakker is a freelance commercial writer. He writes copy for marketing managers who want to save time, reduce their workload, and increase sales. Could you use some writing help? Find out how Keith can help you by visiting http://www.KeithCopy.com


6 Tips to Turn Networking Into Publicity

Luck & PR Follows Non-Stop Networking - 6 Public Relations Tips
Here are 6 quick tips to help you get lucky from your non-stop networking and possibly lead you to some fantastic press releases or public relations opportunities:

1. Position yourself as an expert.
Define your line of expertise. The combination of a clear definition and experience plus taking the time to identify your skills equals a credible authority. This equation gives you substance.

2. Clarify how you describe your product and services.
Describe your work succinctly and distinctly so that your contacts remember your specialty. Avoid focus on what you have done (which is retrospective) or on what you could do (which is hypothetical); this language is forgettable. Focus on how you help others. Use benefit rich content and outcomes to describe your business.

3. Create a timely press release.
Tie what you do to what is topical. Relay your story to your network in terms of what is happening now. The fact that I was 'downsized' and am now 'loving it' became newsworthy as the unemployment rate climbed. Swim against the current to get noticed.

4. Develop strong relationships and foster connections.
Take the time not just to meet with others but to learn how you can help them. Assist in connecting people who can potentially benefit from a meeting. Trust the fact that when the opportunity presents itself, they will pass your name along, too.

5. Participate in a few carefully chosen committees.
Contribute your time to meet outside organizational goals that align with your business goals. Each project that you engage is an opportunity to meet others, highlight your skills and build new relationships.
(Speaking of fostering relationships... I have just returned from having lunch with an amazing, creative client attraction marketer, Meredith Liepelt, owner of Rich Life Marketing and I asked her for a PR tip. - She provided fantastic methodology for enhancing public relations.) Meredith adds:

6. Publicize your Publicity.
Let others know about the publicity you received and leverage each exposure.
All of these recent PR opportunities are a result of reaching out, getting involved in organizations, developing new relationships, strengthening old ones, and staying committed to building and valuing my network. So remember, "Luck follows non-stop networking!"

By Barb Girson 
Image by Leloft
©2009 Barb Girson Original Work. About the author: Barb Girson, International Direct Selling Industry expert, trainer and coach, is a highly interactive, creative speaker and author offering professional skill development programs for workshops, leader retreats, annual conventions and teleclass sales training programs. Barb helps companies, teams & entrepreneurs... Gain Confidence. Get Into Action. Grow Sales. To contact Barb, sign up for her next FREE sales training teleclass and get her Sales Strategies Ezine go to go to http://www.MySalesTactics.com


4 Tips for Getting More Clients with Testimonials

Testimonials: Your Selling Super Powers

You have created a fabulous business, doing excellent work for a slew of wonderful clients. Your clients love your work... in fact, many, if not all, tell you regularly how pleased they are, and give you great feedback.

You have likely heard over and over that rave reviews from your clients are perhaps your most valuable tool for bringing in new clients. In fact, they are so effective at influencing sales that you can think of these little gems as your instant "selling super powers!"

So, what's holding you up from attaining these powers?

Maybe you aren't aware of some of the "super powers" testimonials can give you instantly:

Credibility that can get a skeptical prospective client off the fence. This applies particularly to endorsements from known experts in your field or "celebrity" clients.

Value - When your satisfied customers describe how your services have helped them succeed, it illustrates the value of what you are providing them. Value sells!

Emotional Connection - Potential clients will identify personally with real people telling their story of how you and your services filled a critical need, solved a pressing problem, turned their business around, or helped them finally reach their goals.

Do you like the sound of this? What if your super powers could lead to more clients through less effort, higher demand for your services, and the ability to set a higher fee for your services? They can! And the great news is, to gain these super powers, you do not have to be bitten by a radioactive spider, or change into a spandex suit! All you have to do is ASK. Here's how:

First of all, stop making negative assumptions. More often than not, we put off or (gasp!) neglect asking for something we need, because we assume that we will meet with resistance, or worse - outright rejection. (Even if your client does give you a polite, "no," it is not a reflection of you. Maybe they are uncomfortable putting themselves out there, or it's just not the right time.)

Making assumptions is an action based in fear, and has no business in your business. Ditch them.
Most often, your clients will be MORE than happy to help! This is because...

1. You will hand pick the right clients for the job. You know who they are - you have an excellent rapport. You actually look forward to their calls. They have had measurable success because of your services. You know they are happy with you, because they tell you. They are paying you well and on time! For these folks, helping you by telling the world how much you've helped them is a pleasure (and it also gives them bragging rights for having "discovered" you)!

2. You ask when the moment is right. The best time to ask is directly in response to their praise for a job well done! In this case, it does not have to be a seasoned client. A new client who is still in the "honeymoon phase," and has met a goal or is happy with a completed project can be a great source of testimonials if you create the right opportunity. Build on the momentum of those "feel good" vibes!

3. You will make it easy for them! Create a quick survey or even just a few direct questions to ask them, so they don't have to come up with something from scratch. You might consider focusing on one problem which you or your services solved for them, a time in which you went above and beyond, or a big milestone that you helped them achieve. Don't forget to ask for a photo - it adds more credibility to the testimonial.

4. You will give [commercial clients] a chance to promote their business! Put your client testimonials front and centeron your blog, website, direct marketing and social media profiles, with links to your client's website/landing page, and it's a win for the both of you! The most effective way to do this is with video. A video testimonial gives viewers a real feel for who you are by whom your clients are, how they look, and how they express what you and your services mean to them. Video is great at creating that emotional connection I mentioned earlier, and emotions are powerfully persuasive! Not only does this help you, it helps your client!

But be careful - video (and photos) can also backfire if not considered, planned, and executed with laser focus. Choose your clients carefully - you want them presented as professionally as possible. Testimonials are not only about making a good impression; they are about making the right impression. Like attracts like, and you want, and deserve, only the best!

By Donna Toothaker
Photography By Franz Pfleugl

Donna Toothaker is CEO, founder and coach of Step It Up VA Coaching. These highly sought-after VA coaching programs have been created for established, successful VAs who wish to create the 6-figure business of their dreams. Visit http://www.stepitupva.com to receive the free report, Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid in Creating a 6-Figure VA Business


Retail Romace: Gun Barrel Ranch

Furnishings We Love

Tri Colored Brindle Bergere Chair

Goliath Antler Chandelier


Bergere Cowhide Chair

Moose Antler Coffee Table

The Dallas Chair

African Spring Bock Ottoman

Contact Info:

Gunbarrel Ranch
1305 Medical District Drive
Dallas, TX. 75207
ShowRoom Hours:

First Lady Michelle Obama Unveils Effort to Remove Licensing Barriers that Affect Design Professionals

First Lady Michelle Obama Unveils Effort to Remove Licensing Barriers that Affect Design Professionals

Pentagon, February 15, 2012 - First Lady Michelle Obama and  Dr. Jill Biden alongside Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army General Martin E. Dempsey and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neil Wolin, announced a new report focusing on ways to streamline licensing regulations across state lines for professionals requiring licensing.  Interior Design Resource Agency Managing Director, V. Carr was in attendance at the event hosted by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta alongside top government officials and congressional leaders. The careers of interior designers, architects, general contractors and other trade industries requiring occupational licensing will be eligible for reciprocal licensing across state lines throughout the United States if they are the spouse of an active duty military member. The solution aims to permit professionals requiring licensing to get to work quicker by providing ease and expedition of required licensing procedures for employment, while enabling all states to maintain their professional standards and requirements.

Tennessee, Colorado and Arizona are states which have already taken steps to address this issue. Anticipating that all 50 states will pass legislation affirmatively addressing the licensing issues by 2014, the purpose of this report is to outline best practices  that leaders across the country can use as a resource to enable their states to better support the careers of interior designers, architects and trade professionals in military Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will present the issue to the governors of all 50 state governors later this month at the National Governors Association of Conference.

“If passed, this legislation will positively affect a large percentage of our active membership of nearly 85,000 designers and the interior design industry as a whole.” V. Carr said in a statement following the event. “Applying for new licensing in each state can take months and deter, if not, prevent designers from getting to work quickly after moving to a new state. This legislation will ensure that designers and architects in military families can get to work quickly doing what they love, without the hassle of applying for new licensing in each state. It’s much needed.”

About The Interior Design Resource Agency

The Interior Design Resource Agency (IDRA) is the premiere operations and management consultancy for interior architects and designers with a design audience in over 60 nations around the globe.  IDRA offers unparalleled business resources for interior design professionals with focused guidance and support on the operations and management aspects of the business. IDRA's vast resource library includes literary and multimedia resources that address contracts, marketing, public relations, organizational structure, accounting and more. Additionally IDRA has a global network of estimable experts with extensive experience in their respective disciplines and have shown excellence in their areas of expertise. The IDRA Diplomatic Corps serves local design communities through IDRA Ambassadors and by creating local chapters to support designers at the municipal level. Find IDRA on the web at www.IDRAtheAgency.com and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/IDRAtheAgency.

Occupational Licensing Announcement Invitation (Property of The Interior Design Resource Agency)

The Interior Design Resource Agency
Photography by Glenn Fawcett

Photographers We Love: Heather Soskin

Heather Soskin  &
eleven o' eight photography

How did you enter the field?

I have always had a love of photography. I started really dabbling in the field while I was in college and continued to enjoy it as a hobby for the next 17 years. After chatting with a good friend of mine about the possibility of making my hobby a profession, she introduced me to her uncle, Rick Bethem, a professional photographer for 40+ years. He took a look at my portfolio and gave me the specifics that I needed to get my new career up and moving. For the next 6 months or so I worked on really getting to know the ins and outs of digital photography and with Rick's continued mentorship, eight photography was officially opened in May of 2010.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

In my portrait and event photography, my style is very much lifestyle. I love the beauty of capturing moments as they happen in life. I do have clients that like a mixture of posed and lifestyle photography and I of course accommodate them, but there is just something so fun about the images that show real emotion and interaction.

With my fine art photography, I don't really have a set style. I love the boldness and contrast of colors with lights and darks. Photography really is all about the right lighting and I love to play with that. There are several times that I have taken one image and changed it 3 or 4 times so that each time it takes on a completely different feel just based on the altered contrasts, tones and exposures. The more artsy I can make it, the better.

When did you first discover you had a natural talent photography?

When I started taking random photos of my friend children and they began requesting prints of the images. Although I had a little hunch many years prior to then, it was really at that point when my friends started asking me to take picture for them that I really though “hmmm... I think I may be on to something”.

Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere!! My husband thinks I'm crazy sometimes because I can look at the most random thing and feel the need to photograph it. Anything from an artistic light fixture to a fallen tree in the middle of a creek, I am inspired everyday just by the gift of sight.

What do you enjoy most about being an artist?

Being able to express myself and really show my client exactly how I see things. I love walking into a room or meeting a child for the first time and translating what I see into an image that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. It gives me pure joy to turn my visions into pieces of art.

Accolades, Awards & Accomplishments:

~Photo of the day on photography.about.com May 26th 2010
~Viewers Choice First Finalist 2010/photography.about.com
~First public exhibit during Mid County Artists Week in Washington DC. June 2011 at Sukio Design Co.

For more information contact: