This week has been all about your first email interaction with a prospect.

Tuesday I talked about the basic format of your initial prospect email.

Yesterday I told you about 2 prospects I didn’t let past my initial email into a call because they didn’t answer my initial questions. Prospects who don’t take the time to answer the initial prospect questions don’t qualify as my ideal client.

Most prospects aren’t like that though. Most prospects give me stellar responses.

Freelancers who use my full set of email templates tell me they get way better responses to their first email and easily shave half the time off the initial prospect contact by not having to create each email from scratch. I’m also told they are way less likely to invest a lot of time in a poor match because my process helps them stay focused on finding ideal clients.

Then what?

Up to now, when I’ve provided the email templates to other freelancers, I neglected to provide much direction about where to take the prospect after they’ve passed the first “ideal client test” with their initial email response.

Today that changes.

I firmly believe that your primary objective when you’re “selling” to a client is to find the right fit — for you and your client.

Your goal is to find a client that you want to work with, and a client whose needs you can best fulfill. Every interaction at each stage in the sales process should be focused on achieving this goal.

You want a client you enjoy working with. Your prospect wants to find a consultant who will provide the best return for their business.

When you stay focused on finding the right fit, you increase the chances of meeting the needs of both you and your client.

This is the purpose of my first email, and honestly, the only goal of my first call with a client is to figure out if I like them.

Talk to the decision maker

When we went over my initial prospect email, remember how we asked who the decision maker was?

Your goal should be to talk to the a decision maker in your first call since they’re the ones that you need to feel comfortable with, and the ones who need to be convinced of your value. If you don’t feel comfortable with the real decision maker or they don’t feel comfortable with you then you’re likely wasting everyone’s time by continuing to pursue a working relationship. If the comfort level isn’t there, your best bet is to help your prospect find someone that may be a better fit.

While your initial interaction may be with the project manager or the point person, if the ultimate decision to spend money is in the hands of someone else, that person had better be on the phone at this stage in the sales process. Remember what I said about potentially wasting everyone’s time? You’ll respect your client by not keeping them involved in a sales process that’s not going anywhere.

Make sure you ask the decision maker all the same questions from the first email you sent. It’s amazing how many times you’re going to find that your prospect’s top issues will change once you get them talking.

Really, my whole first 30-minute call with a client is about getting them to answer all the questions from my first email over again.

Before you end the call, confirm everything they told you, and be sure you have a feeling for how the whole team on the other end of the phone interacts with each other.

After the call

After the call, if you still believe this is a good prospect, it’s time to work the prospect back through your ideal client worksheet. Here is what mine basically looks like.

Remember: The most important thing is that you’re a good fit for each other.

Can you actually serve their needs best or do you know someone else that’s a better fit?

If you know someone else then send them a referral, and no I don’t do referral fees.

You’re only going to do your best work with clients that are the best fit. When your work is focused on these clients, you will do your best work, which will help you build a stronger reputation. Staying true to this practice will bring you more of the work you want.

It’s not magic

There is no magic sauce to the first client call — just stick to the questions in your first email and make sure you get the decision maker on the phone.

Then, if the fit is there, shift your focus to the value you can bring to the client.

photo credit: eherrera cc