Inbound vs. Outbound
All sales conversations will either be “Inbound” (the potential client reached out to us) or “Outbound” (we made the initial outreach).
These types of discussions start differently, but as the conversation evolves the process becomes very similar.
The crux of a potential new client relationship is a felt need. With Inbound, the client feels their need acutely enough to look for agencies and reach out. With Outbound, the client my not have previously realized their need, or may not have felt ready to start looking for a solution. Either way, once it is established that a felt need exists, the process is very similar.
We regularly receive inquires via email@example.com, which is connected to a shared Hubspot inbox which forwards to our biz dev lead (Currently @Ty Fujimura). Ty handles these leads and brings in a strategist or other team members during the process.
Individual team members may also receive inbound leads directly. When they do they can either transfer it entirely to Ty, or, if they seem qualified, feel free to set up a call and include Ty on it.
We regularly encounter firms who we think might we could deliver value for. They may be clients of our clients, or networking contacts, or total strangers doing cool thins we find out about.
We also use a platform called Lead Forensics which allows us to see which firms are visiting our website. When we get a hit from a potential client we think would be an exceptional fit, we like to reach out and introduce ourselves proactively.
We have a full workflow for making this outreach and working towards booking a meeting with the prospect:
These are the steps we use to get prospects from being a lead (inbound or outbound) to a customer.
Initial Qualification (Inbound leads Only)
The first step in handling inbound leads is to make sure the lead is actually a potential fit for Cantilever. We get a lot of inbound messages that are just spam, from leads that don’t have the ability to make a significant investment in their digital technology, or are looking for things we don‘t offer.
Sometimes a client will reach out and it will be very obvious that they are a potential fit, such as when a current client refers a similar business to us. In those cases, we can dive to the next step, the Intro Call. In other cases we want to confirm that they are a potential fit before we waste either party’s time on a call, so the first step is to feel out whether the lead is a potential fit. This can take the form of casual email back-and-forth to understand roughly what they are looking for, or we can use a survey, like this one, to gather initial information.
In either case, once it is clear that a lead is a potential fit and we are choosing to move forward with an Intro Meeting, the Biz Dev team should add a “Deal” to Hubspot as a record of the conversation around the lead.
The goal of the Intro Meeting is to ascertain if the prospect has a felt need that we know we can address, and if they are truly qualified. This call is about the prospect, not about us. We need to gather information so we can start thinking about what a plan might look like.
This should be 30 to 60 minutes depending on how complex the client’s needs appear to be. Biz dev leads these calls, but will frequently loop in the strategist from the team who would be in charge of the client if they chose us. The initial intro call should not have more than two people from our team or it is hard to get a good rhythm going and it becomes a risky amount of time to commit.
We do not use a deck or other visual materials during this meeting. The goal is human connection, not information delivery. We do take copious notes, and follow up after the meeting, so the prospect has a sense that we truly heard them.
During the intro call it is important to align with the client on some sense that we are in the same ballpark on cost.
One easy thing to discuss is our Diagnostic processes. Our fees for them are between $5k and $20k. Typical client engagements are in the $50-$100k per year range. During the call it is important to confirm with the client that they feel they can get value from this range of cost. If we do but they don’t, sometimes it is worthwhile to continue the conversation to try and demonstrate this to them, but if we are completely not aligned, it’s fine to just confirm that we are not the right fit and move on.
After the Intro Meeting, if the client is a fit, we talk to them about why we are a good fit, how we would help them, and propose a
We have a standard deck format (Currently being migrated to Figma here) for these meetings, which we customize for each potential new client.
One key thing to establish in the intro call is how we work. At Cantilever we don’t work on a project-by-project basis but rather on a client relationship basis. We have ongoing relationships with our clients that we expect to last for years, and we embark on various projects within those relationships to deliver value. It is important to communicate that when we discuss sales, we are never discussing “a project” in isolation – we are discussing a relationship. If the client is not interested in that, we are not the best fit for them.
For new clients, all Diagnostics are 100% satisfaction guaranteed and can be ended at any time. This allows new clients to see us in action before committing any funds, and we’ve never had a client not be satisfied with the outcomes of our diagnostic work, so we are fully confident that once people try us they will identify the value we bring to their business.
We require 50% of the Diagnostic fee paid upfront so we can begin. This is refundable within the Guarantee.
The cost of a Diagnostic varies according to the intended relationship size and how much work we anticipate putting in within the Diagnostic Process. Three standard sizes are:
- Small: $5k, anticipated 20 hours of work
- Medium: $10k, anticipated 40 hours of work
- Large: $20k, anticipated 80 hours of work
After a client has reviewed the proposal and accepts, we will begin the Diagnostic process.