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November 14, 2023

When a Potential Buyer Reaches Out to You, Whaddaya Do?

A 6-six step process for handling inquiries…

It doesn’t happen a lot… but it does happen. A prospective buyer completes the ‘get in touch’ form on your website requesting more information about your firm. And if they’re going to the trouble of doing this, it’s likely for one of two reasons. Maybe they’re just curious. They stumbled across your website or heard about you from a colleague and want to learn more. Or perhaps, they have a project in mind and think you have the ability to get the job done. Either way, when that inquiry comes in, whaddaya do?

Well, what you don’t do is reply with an email, using a boilerplate message and with your capabilities deck attached. And you don’t do that for three reasons:

  • 99% of what’s in the deck is also on your website, so what’s the point?
  • You haven’t learned anything about the buyer or their needs, so again, what’s the point?
  • It’s how most all firms respond, so why be like everyone else?

Instead, here’s a 6-step process for handling those inquiries…

  1. First things first, do some quick homework. Look up the person on LinkedIn and spend a little time on the company’s website. Make sure the person and the company are a fit for the services you provide. [hint: You’ll also need to know this information a little later in the process.]
  2. Then, respond quickly. Reply to the inquiry the same day… or better yet, in the first few hours. If they are also reaching out to other suppliers, you don’t want to be the slowest one to get back with them!
  3. Send an email, but not with a deck or brochure attached. Instead, thank them for their interest and ask them for a few available time slots so you can schedule a brief zoom call with them. Let them know that you’d like to meet them, to learn a little more about their company, and to understand their challenges to see how you might be able to help them (i.e., why they reached out to you in the first place).
  4. Early in the call, remember to ask, “How did you hear about us?” Doing this not only helps you understand which of your firm’s marketing tactics are working, but it might mean you have a ‘thank you’ note to send out if they were referred to you by an industry friend.
  5. [MOST IMPORTANT] Ask a ton of questions. About their company (any questions from their website?). About this person and their role (any questions from their LinkedIn profile?). About why they reached out to you. Drill down into their needs… try to understand the root cause of their challenges and how you can help. If the person has a project in mind, get as much detail as you can… the timing, who is involved, internal sponsors, their history with these sorts of projects, etc. You’re asking all of these questions so you can make an informed decision on next steps.
  6. Next steps. Don’t end the call without clear expectations (by both parties) on what next steps will be. Maybe it’s another more in-depth call. Maybe you’ll be asked to come in and deliver a capabilities presentation. Maybe they want additional information about a particular service you provide. It might even be time for a proposal. Whatever the next step… at the end of your initial call, summarize your conversation and reiterate the things you’re both responsible for doing as you move forward.

Bottom line: As I stated at the beginning of this article, you don’t get many inquiries, so, when they do come in, you need to take full advantage of them:

  • Be prepared
  • Be responsive
  • Be inquisitive
  • Be grateful.

Do that… and you will be successful!

Good luck and good selling.

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