In this episode, you’ll learn how to use your contact form to qualify your prospects.
Today we’re going to look at two contact forms — one that functions as more of an intake form, and the other that looks like 80% of consulting website contact forms.
The first form that I want to look at is the form of an eCommerce consulting business named Ethercycle.
Here’s Ethercycle’s homepage. As you scroll down, it’s easy to tell that this business has invested a lot of time and resources into their website. One of the thing that draws your attention as soon you land on the page is this powerful red color — a call to action to get started.
Let’s click on that and see where it takes us.
Here we have a client application form.
Now on first glance, this intake form seems quite a bit intimidating. There’s a lot to fill out here.
We know that the more form fields you have, generally, the less inquiries you will receive.
That’s because more form fields equals more work, and generally, people want their forms to be short so they can spend less time filling them out.
But put yourself in the shoes of the firm’s ideal client: A Shopify store owner who’s looking for an expert to increase their sales.
Coming to a form like this would come as a sigh of relief.
First of all, Ethercycle’s marketing is so well done (through their articles, podcast, resources, etc), that by the time their prospect comes to this page, their positioned in the mind of the prospect as that of the expert practitioner.
And when you interact with this form, you think: here’s a firm that really what their talking about. The questions that they ask on the form demonstrate that they’re experts in their field.
Although there are a lot of forms to fill out here, there are very clear instructions for filling it out.
The questions help you, the Shopify store owner, be clear and concise when writing about your business.
Unlike most consultants and firms, Ethercycle’s client intake form is a planned part of their sales pipeline which helps them filter out bad clients. And when they do get a good inquiry, the form requires key information that will help both the prospect and Etherycle at every stage from the consultation, the value conversation, and all the way toward the project.
Now most consulting firms who don’t really use their Digital Presence to market and sell their services have a form that looks more like this.
This is the type of form you get when you install a contact form plugin and embed it on your contact page without changing any settings.
I’m against this type of contact form because first of all, you’re giving your prospects way to much freedom with what to write here — no prompts, no instructions, no anything.
Even though it’s very short, you would still want to make it clear as to what they should enter in these form fields, so for the “Subject” and “Message” fields:
A quick change I would make here is “What would you like to contact us for?” and “Please provide a brief introduction:”
Even that would make this experience much more straightforward for your prospect.
Secondly, this type of form has no client qualification built into it. It’s inviting responses from anyone to say anything — which is going to lead to bad leads.
And because of that, it’s going to waste more of your time – your most valuable asset as a business owner.
This quote, taken from Sean McCabe’s book Overlap, perfectly captures what the Ethercycle intake form does — and what the Positive Pathways form does not.
The purpose of a questionnaire is to find clients with red flags so you can immediately discard them. When you find that a client isn’t a good fit, your goal isn’t to try to find ways to qualify them. Do not waste time or energy trying to turn bad fits into good clients. The instant you encounter a red flag, say “No,” and move on. The questionnaire is doing its filtering job.
Having a qualification form not only shows your client that you do understand their business — it also shows you who is a bad fit. It can help you avoid bad clients. Whereas with a simple form, you don’t gain enough information from their form submission to spot any red flags.
Today’s action step is to drop your generic contact form and start using it to qualify your leads.
Show them that you understand their business by asking relevant, specific questions with your intake form.
Give them specific prompts and guidance so that they can easily fill out the form.
Once you start using your contact form for qualification, you’ll have the information to have a productive consultation with your potential clients.