When working for yourself you want to make the best use of all the benefits technology can bring. This includes communication with prospective clients, especially during that all-important first contact. Project quote request forms are a good example of technology helping to automate and speed-up these new client interactions.
These small web page forms allow the visitor to input relevant information which is then sent automatically to your inbox ready for your review and response.
Many solo-entrepreneurs and small businesses rely on a phone number or email address as the first point of contact for prospective clients. This leaves the prospect to define the conversation right from the beginning which can present some challenges. These include:
Lack of clarity – Prospects usually have little idea of the relevant details needed to prepare an initial quote. This means you have to repeatedly reply back with the same questions to different people. Time is wasted, especially if the prospect then vanishes. These questions can instead be put into a project brief quote form providing prospective clients with a more structured first point of contact, and saving you a lot of time.
Distractions and time wastage – For solo-business owners especially, phone calls from strangers can be a distraction when trying to focus on important projects. You’re not always available to answer the phone, and calling potentially unsuitable prospects back later is also a waste of time and energy. A request form acts like a secretary allowing you to remain focused on important client projects and to avoid burnout.
Unpreparedness – A prospective phone call is usually out-of-the-blue and sometimes you’re not completely ready to take appropriate notes. A project brief request form automatically takes all the vital details you need before replying to a prospect, and is there as a permanent record to refer back to.
So you know some of the benefits of a project quote request form but how do you go about formatting one? The following are a few points to consider when adding the different input fields to your form.
Keep it Short
Keep the quote request form as short as possible. Your prospective clients are more likely to complete your form if they can see an end to the questioning. If a quote request form is too long, they’ll seek your phone number or email address instead, rendering the whole point of the form irrelevant.
As a small business owner, your time is at a premium. You need to have particular questions answered before replying to a prospect’s enquiry and beginning what could potentially be a time intensive dialogue.
For freelancers and agencies, one of the most pertinent questions is the prospect’s available project budget. This allows you to decide whether they can afford your services instead of finding out they can’t when you’re 6 emails or minutes into to a conversation.
Other questions to include should give you and your team enough information to gauge the needs of the client. These might cover the type of business they run, the services they need, the project scope, the project deadlines, and various contact details.
Keep it Simple for the Prospect
Keep the quote request form as simple as possible. This means only asking questions the prospect can answer easily and immediately. If the business owner needs to think too hard or pause to find information, then your questions are likely too complicated for this stage of the process.
Prospects will know their company size, their industry, their location, what they’re basically looking to achieve or fix, and their general budget for the project. These answers give you all the information you need to decide whether you can help them, and the best way to reply.
Refrain from asking overly detailed questions or using technical terms only professionals in your own industry will really understand.
Important Information Only
Ask only the most relevant questions on your quote request form. Think of the questions you’d ask if a prospect calls you suddenly. Consider how you’d begin the conversation and what nuggets of information you’d require right away.
For example, an interior design firm will need to know the location of the prospect, in case they’re too far away. This is vital information that needs to be known within seconds otherwise a phone call might be a complete waste of time.
The same applies to your quote request form. The most pressing information needs to be included which can disqualify unsuitable prospects before a phone call or a lengthy email back-and-forth take place.
Decide Between Dynamic or Separate Forms
Some businesses cater to diverse markets which require different sets of questions. Again, using interior designers as an example, they may cater to both residential and commercial clients. These clients’ needs and priorities can be very different, as can be the budget ranges.
In this case, there are two options to consider – a dynamic single quote request form, or two separate quote request forms on different pages.
A dynamic quote request form will consist of questions which adjust to the previous answers given. For example, if a homeowner selects a ‘Residential’ rather than a ‘Commercial’ box then the following questions will relate to the needs of a residential prospect only.
This dynamic form allows you to maintain a single format throughout the entire website. If simple and clearly laid out, then it’s easy for people to understand and interact accordingly.
A series of separate forms can work well if your business is divided into many different markets, and you require more detailed upfront information from each one. A unique form can be placed on the corresponding landing page for that service, where prospects can fill in relevant information quickly and easily without confusion and overwhelm.
An Indispensable Website Tool
A well put together project request form brings many benefits to small service business owners and freelancers. Not only do you save a lot of time, distraction and potential confusion, but you also help prospective clients more clearly convey their needs and requirements in a structured way.
Keep the form short, simple, relevant, and attuned to the needs of your particular market(s), and you’ll find the project request form becomes an indispensable feature of your website and business.