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The Importance of Your First Point of Contact

A few months ago I needed to replace the garage door on a house I owned but didn’t live in. I knew I’d be in town (where the house was) for a short period of time and needed someone who could work around that schedule with me.

I googled garage-fixit-companies (that’s the technical term 🙂 ) in Toronto and got a handful of hits to choose from. I usually choose based on who has the most user-friendly and personable website but each of these websites looked like a teenager in the 1990’s built it, so I had to look for secondary criteria.

Bear with me here.

By secondary criteria I mean sending out an email request to the two companies I’d narrowed it down to:

  • One that looked high-volume (promising if everyone is hiring them and likely flexible with many trucks on the road)
  • One that looked like a family-values based business (also promising but I worried about their flexibility as a one-man show).

I know you might be wondering what all this garage door business has to do with running an online business.

Well, good business principles are good business principles, no matter what type of business you’re running.

My experience with the garage door folks brought to light how easy it is to miss the mark.

They were the perfect opposing examples of a business that’s oriented towards making the sale vs a business that’s oriented to serve their customers.

Customers can tell. They’re savvier than ever and have more choice than ever. It got me thinking about how that same is true online. It’s so easy to miss out on business because your first point of contact with a potential client is “off”.

If you’re not sure how you’re coming across, try asking yourself these three questions:

Are you meeting people where they’re at?

Being a service provider doesn’t mean you should always be selling people your stuff. Sometimes it means simply being of service.

A potential client might contact you for something they need, but you soon see you’re not selling what they need.

Being of service means either meeting them closer to where they’re at (if your business structure permits) or recommending them elsewhere.

Garage-Fixit-Company #1 *may* have been able to do what I wanted but they weren’t listening to me. They were just ramming their sales process down my throat so I dropped them like they were hot.

Garage-Fixit-Company #2 were more than happy to communicate by email and text, pop ’round my house in my absence to assess the situation, and didn’t try to upsell me on a door I didn’t need.

Are you immediately making their life easier?

No one cares about your bells, whistles, and promises unless whatever service you’re selling is immediately going to make their life easier.

Garage-Fixit-Company #1 were a pain in my butt right out of the gate because they kept asking me for my phone number so they could “discuss my needs.” I haven’t had a phone number in two years and I hate talking on the phone.

Garage-Fixit-Company #2 responded to my email requests to swing by my house, writing back, “No problem! We’ll get right on it and get a quote back to you ASAP.” They immediately made my life easier. Boom.

Are you giving them a personable snapshot of yourself?

People hire people, full stop.

Garage-Fixit-Company #1 had no human image on their website. Just a HUGE phone number to call. What I see? Marketing, high volume, production line.

Garage-Fixit-Company #2 had a photo of the guy who owns the company smiling broadly with his daughter in his arms and a short About page that described his company that he runs with his cousin. What I see? Human, accountable, reputation-conscious.

Think about how these principles and first impressions translate into your online business.

Think about how your first point of contact and how the value of the service you deliver (the little things!) can give you a competitive edge.

Where might you be missing the mark with your website? A great way to figure this out is to have some objective business eyes look in on your stuff. Reach out to some freelancer friends or in a FB discussion group you belong to and have a few people audit your Home or About page. We encourage this in the LEAP League all the time.

Where might you be missing the mark with potential clients? Are you finding yourself on free consult calls trying to convince them to sign up with you (hey, you’ve got financial goals to meet!) or do you find yourself listening closely to the cues and points of potential connection you can leverage to help them decide that hiring you is a no-brainer?

Let me know what this brings up for you in the comments.

Heather Thorkelson Heather is a location-independent business strategist and serial entrepreneur. She works with people who are suffocating in the 9-5 and want to take bold steps to change their circumstances for good through smart freelancing, which she’s been doing herself since 2010. She’s lived in 7 countries outside of her own (Canada) and currently hangs her hat in Sweden where she runs the Republic Of Freedom. Every winter for a few months she runs off to be an expedition guide in Antarctica. (Just because.) Heather can be found sharing her travels and stories over on Instagram.

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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Love this Heather! Reminds me so much of an experience I’ve had with two different gyms in our new city. One rammed their sales process down my throat and called me persistently for months, while the other told me flat out what their two offers were then sent a follow up email after my trial, asking for suggestions or comments, with no pressure to reply. And guess which one we joined?

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