When I get a new prospect in my pipeline — either via a referral from a friend or colleague or a lead through my website, I have a template email that I send them to learn more about their business. (This is heavily inspired by one shared by Jonathan Stark of ExpensiveProblem.com).
Why use a template? Because 99% of the time, I want to accomplish the same three goals in my initial email with a prospect:
- I want to schedule a time for us to talk on the phone/Skype
- I want to begin to understand what their business is
- I want to learn what expensive problem they’re looking to solve
Please note: none of these involve me as a consultant. No prospect that I’m emailing gives a fig about my experience or how I can help them. My goal is to get the prospect talking about their business: what they do, what their goals are, what their expensive problems are.
By first focusing on their business, I learn how to position my services to best solve their problems. Otherwise, I’m playing darts in the dark.
Here’s my standard email:
Nice to meet you! 🙂
I’d be delighted to talk this week or next week. Please use the link below to select any available 60-minute slot in my calendar. We may not need the full hour, but let’s start there just in case:
[Link to Calendly scheduler]
In the meantime, anything you can tell me about your business in advance via email would be helpful.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- How long have you been in business?
- What types of customers do you typically serve?
- What sorts of things do you do for your customers?
- What’s the origin story behind the company?
- What are the main challenges you’re facing these days?
- How would you measure the success of a project together (i.e., what would a homerun look like)?
Feel free to braindump anything else that comes to mind. It’ll help us get productive more quickly on our call.
I’m looking forward to your answers and our call next week!
- The primary (and first) action in the email is to schedule a time to talk to me. This way, I’m assured that they’ll take that action.
- Then, I give them space to tell me about their business, their challenges, and their goals
- After that, I give them free-reign to type whatever they want. Sometimes I get back mini-essays, other times I get back nothing.
Each of these questions, while framed as learning about their business, is actually a qualifying question.
- Are they just starting out?
- Do they serve an audience I’m not experienced working with?
- Are their challenges things that I’m not good at solving?
By asking these questions, I can easily qualify out potential mismatches — before we get on the call.
And that’s how I follow up with a prospect referral.
(And, again, thanks to Jonathan Stark of Expensive Problem for the email)