Nailing It 24: Creating an effective client intake form - Stephanie Campanella

Nailing It 24: Creating an effective client intake form

Stephanie Campanella
September 5th 2019

Welcome back to another episode of Nailing It, the podcast where we talk all things about nailing your niche, nailing lead gen and just being a bad “ah-ah” in business so that you build the business and the life that you so desire.


Now today, I am talking about client intake forms. I want to share with you how I used to do client intake and how I do client intake now.


Firstly, what is a client intake form?

Basically, I mean, 10 years of building websites, right? We’ve built a lot of websites and we have built a lot of forms. Now, I have designed sites. My team has designed sites, I can’t take all the credit. We’ve designed websites so that there’s a form on every page, and we’ve designed sites with a form just on the contact page. And we’ve made the phone number super clear. I mean, you name it, we’ve done it.


What I’ve learned here is there’s a much better way of getting clients into your business. I’m going to share that with you right now, woo-hoo!


First things first, how did I use to do this?
So being fresh in business in the early days, my phone number was out there on the prowl, street walker, “Please can someone please call me, call me 04-111-999.” I pretty much had my phone number everywhere because I really, really, really wanted to take phone calls because I really, really, really wanted to get as many clients as possible and grow my business.


What really, really, really happened is that I just got really busy with people and let’s be a bit frank here, people that were tire kickers, people who wanted to have a talk about doing business together, but then nothing ever eventuated. I mean, I would spend time getting around the city and seeing these people and getting lunch, racking up the expenses, woo-hoo! And, literally just to waste my time.


“Ah, god damn it, that client wasted my time today.” But it’s like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. That wasn’t their fault. That was your fault. You’re the one that insisted on meeting up and having coffee together. I mean, if I counted the time spent doing these meetings, wow, what would I actually prefer to be doing with my time there? So, yes, my phone was a street walker and I was a coffee drinking person. I don’t know how many meetings I could sit in a day. I pretty much just did it, because I thought that was just the right way to do business.


Things have changed. In fact, we make it really hard for people to work with us now. We’ve got demand and we’ve got a very clean runway of how we build desire with customers and then they come into our world. The runway now is primed. So we don’t need to have my phone number everywhere because I don’t want to take clients that way.


In fact, even on the tradie site, even the contact page actually says, “You should head over here if you want to work with us because this is how we do business.” And like to double up on that some parallel, I guess, the new niche that we have started building for the Hair, Beauty and Body Market. Just because I’m bored, let’s build another business. Not at all. That literally says, “Hair, Beauty, Body Marketing. Book a sales call.” That is it. You cannot call someone like … Super simple.


…Now just to cut in here, what I would actually prefer to be doing with my time is playing Nintendo Switch either Splatoon 2 or the Tetris game that Nintendo gave to me last week. That’s what I’d rather be doing. Anyway, continuing…


Now I understand, when you’re starting a business, there’s a little bit of grit and desperation in the fact that you do want to run around and go quote jobs or take phone calls, take coffee meetings, take business meetings, go do horrible networking at all hours of the day and just try to get clients any way you can. Sure, you could continue doing that or you could use the time that is spent doing all those things to try and drive leads in.


You could swap that for marketing. You could swap all those time in the car, a time doing quotes that never go anywhere like how frustrating is that? The time spending coffee with people that are other than your family and friends? So all that time could be better spent actually marketing and it sounds crazy because it’s like, “Well, what am I going to do behind the desk?”


But actually, social media is insane. Building an email list should be a priority. And if you can build an email list and how the hell do you build an email list? I mean, this is a whole other podcast episode, but basically you need a lead mag. You need a bait piece, something on your website that is really, really sexy. It’s got a very cool name. The only thing that matters is the name. I repeat. The only thing that matters on a bait piece is the name because most people don’t read the bait.


Putting a lead mag on your site, getting emails that way, that is a great way to start building an email database. Social media, I mean it is 24/7 and you can put your messages out there into the world. And when your customers are there and they have a moment, then they can come into your world. All that time spent coffee-ing, I want you to swap it for marketing.


Now, I know that might seem really cringe-worthy because you’re like, “Well, I haven’t got any work-on stiff. I need to go out and go networking and meet people and rah-rah-rah.” But if you can force yourself to go into a habit where you spend quality time writing really good content for your database, you can spend really good quality time writing content on LinkedIn. You can spend time creating a podcast or a YouTube video like just tell people what you do.


That marketing is going to last and resonate so much longer than a couple of handshakes that you’ve made at the local chamber or BNI. Sorry, not sorry. Now what happens when you start to spend time actually marketing your business and working on the business, not in the business, is it does start to become a bit of a wave coming. The set is coming. It’s at the back. It’s starting to roll in. That’s really what marketing is. Because if you’re not doing very much and you throw a stone into the ocean, you might get a little ripple.


But when you constantly schedule marketing time in, and I say marketing, I say lead generation time. If someone says, “What are you doing today? Why didn’t you answer my phone?” “Oh, I was doing lead gen for my business.” They’re like, “What is that?” It’s like, “Exactly? Go away.” If you can really swap that time and what’s going to happen is instead of you just posting once on LinkedIn and it’s like a little pebble that creates like a tiny little ripple, what you’ll actually create is an entire set of waves coming into the beach there and they are rolling in and they’re nice and strong and they’re coming one after the other.


And that’s because you are constantly driving more and more people to your business. That’s because you are creating content to tell people about your business on a regular basis and they’re constantly being reminded that you exist. They don’t have to wait once a month to see you at the chamber event. They can see you at any moment they choose on their platform that you are on and also they are on, so that’s really important.


Now the thing here with the intake form is obviously, if you just build it and they will come. No, that doesn’t happen. You actually have to do some marketing to get people to that intake form. But the importance of the intake form is that when all you do is talk about how you do business and why you do business and who you do business for and exactly what it is that you do, what’s the problem that you’re solving, what is your unique solution, why should they trust you, why should they …


Basically, trust is rapport. You’re building rapport with people, so why should they trust you? Why should they lean into you? All these different kinds of content will build that wave through your intake form. So don’t just put a form on your website and hope that someone comes. You do actually have to do some marketing.


So I have had, I mean, we have built that many forms. It’s crazy. What we have now, or actually what we had just prior to was a really long form that when an inquiry came in, they basically had to fill this really long format. And it spoke about, this is for the web design company Summit Digital, so it spoke about the design. Why are you updating? What are your ROI goals? What do you want to achieve?


When someone says that they want to build a website and they want to crack a million bucks, but then there’s no marketing plan there. It’s kind of like, “Well dude, I can’t do that without putting a marketing plan in place.” So we can’t just build a website. We have to do a marketing plan as well.


Anyway, I’m digressing as always, but for Summit, we had a really big form, who are you and what do you do, and the colors that you like and all that sort of stuff. And that was cool, great. Some good leads came through on that form and it was quite good, much better than a contact form.


What we didn’t do actually there was we didn’t delete any of the other forms, and we just kind of kept the application form, so to speak. It was almost a secret because it was kind of hidden, but really we should’ve brought it to the forefront.


On the tradie’s website, what we did was we actually removed anything that was connected to me. Although we have an office line there, and of course if you call, you will get the phone and I will return your call. But I know for … I mean, look at the doubt that’s in my voice. Any time anyone calls that office line now, they’re actually not our client. And it’s a really big sign that the customer is just shopping around because our intake form is so good.


On the tradie site, and again, because I have so many sites doing so many different things, there’s so many different research things going on, but it’s on the tradie site. There is the 9042 number. And literally, anyone that leaves a voicemail or actually calls the office, it’s a bucket kicker. I can almost guarantee it. The phone call will still take the 15 minutes and it’ll be a bucket kicker, basically.


When they actually fill out the intake form, those customers tell me about their business. They’d give me, hang on, I’ve got a little checklist here to make sure that I tell you guys what to include. I actually make notes. Yes, I come prepared.


My intake form includes the basic questions, who, name and full name and email address and company name, and all that sort of stuff. But then it also has some questions there that are a little bit awkward to answer. And I put them out there because business is, well, it’s not personal. But if we’re going to help you, then we need to know exactly where you’re at. We know that we deal with clients earning over a certain figure. We know that clients earning under a certain figure never become clients because they’re not our client, unfortunately. But the thing is you can’t help everyone, so it’s not unfortunately.


Anyway, the basics, who and what and where, where are you and all that sort of stuff. But then there’s also a couple of questions about revenue and revenue goals, and are you really focused on this business and all this kind of stuff. Now when someone fills out that intake form, they then get sent a link to my calendar and then they turn up in my calendar. I saw one today. I freaking love those emails because I know it is a qualified lead.


Now again, I said this, we’ve been building forms for so long and the thing with forms is that you want to make them as easy as possible because you want to make sure you get the lead. No, you actually don’t want to make the form as easy as possible. And in the tradie’s website example, you have to follow the bouncing ball. You have to go to the sales page and you have to fill out the styles intake form. And if you don’t want to do that, then you don’t get to talk to us.


I know that sounds really harsh, but that’s how we drive only the best leads to our business. Now, anything else? We don’t do any networking. Every other activity that we do on the business is just marketing. It’s Instagram content, it’s Facebook content, it’s LinkedIn content, it’s podcasting. I believe you’re listening to the podcast right now. It’s video.


Gosh, what else did we do? There’s download. There’s speaking. I mean, we just do marketing and we spend all our time and energy and cash on marketing the business and then that all leads to that intake form. And that’s what I mean by when I say build it and they won’t come. So you can’t just build a website. You can’t just build a form on your website and then just expect people to turn up into it. You need to continually drive desire for your business service, product, whatever it is, and then get those people warm up so that they do take on that context intake form.


Now, the key thing here that I wanted to also share is that our intake form is actually part of the sales process. It’s part of the entire process for the business. Again, when someone calls, it’s a manual like I’ve got to get in there, I’ve got to listen to the voicemail or I’ve got to answer the call.


It might be an interruption to my day. I might be in the middle of something. If that’s the case, I won’t answer and that’s why I don’t answer. But if it’s a voicemail, obviously I have to hit play and listen to the voicemail. And then I have to manually write all that stuff in.


Now when someone comes through the intake form, all their details are forwarded into Active Campaign. And then I also get a notification in my inbox and the girls get notifications in their inboxes to remind me that there’s someone waiting for us to call them. But all their information goes into active campaign.


I can then see that they have either downloaded or not downloaded one of our PDFs. I can see this client’s scorecard, so I can see if they are hot or not basically in a way that there’s like 50 points if you are on the tradie’s sales page or there’s 20 points if you’ve made it to the contact page and then you’ve made it into the actual intake form page and like there’s a client scoring.


In an instant, everything comes together so that I can truly see is this customer going to actually be a customer that someone that we typically see coming into our business? I mean, I cannot tell you the distinction between customers who just call and then the customers who actually fill out the form, book in a time, set the time. I have so much respect for those people because obviously, they plan enough to book things into their diary and actually make it happen. And they’re the kind of people that we want to work with.


What I want you to take away from this is imagine the kind of people you want to work with. I really feel I want you to stop wasting your time quoting and running around and doing things for free. Telling every single time … Everyone in business should just be a doctor or have that doctor mindset mentality because anytime anyone starts asking you any question, whether it’s building a retaining wall or asking you about some meta tags on your website and how to fix those, they’re asking for a prescription. They’re asking to sit down with the Doctor Kiss. Call me Dr. Love, just came in my head, anyway.




They’re asking to sit down with a doctor and get a prescription because they’ve got an ailment that needs to get fixed. Think about yourself in that matter. You are a doctor. You are a specialist. You’re in one of the private hospitals in Sydney making 300, 400 bucks an hour or whatever the hell. Don’t give anyone your time for free. You have worked way too hard for that.


If you set a process, they will follow it. And when I say they, I instantly correct myself in my head. The best clients that are worth waiting for, they will follow the process, the steps and they will come into your world. But you must do that marketing piece. You must get active on the IG and the FB and all that other crap.


I was speaking to an awesome coach this morning, and interesting, he’s an, I was going to say older gentleman, but 50 is not old. I’m just going to put it out there. He’s very nice gentleman. He’s gorgeous. And he was sort of saying he’s having a bit of hit back from his new clients because everyone over 40 knows exactly who he is, but no one in their 20s knows who he is. He’s not getting as many speaking gigs as he might like.


I mean, he’s just got to get on Instagram. He’s phenomenal guy, but he’s just got to get active on Instagram because that’s where his clients are, and start to network on Instagram.


Anyway, I digress as always. I would love to see you build a really clear path to exactly how you want to deal with new customers. Will you be continuing to sit by the phone? Will you be continuing to drive around town, taking the bait and not being the doctor, you being the nurse, you listening, listening … And, yes, and how else can I help you? Oh yes, yes. I have a bandage for that. No, you are not the nurse. You are the doctor and in no way am I against nurses. I’m just trying to build a visual here for you. You are the doctor.


Yes, design that intake form and design that process of how you want to get clients. You want them to see your content on a certain marketplace or an email list or LinkedIn. They want to see you speaking in event or whatever it is. Okay, perfect. Then what’s the next step? You want them to go and download something? Okay, cool.


If they’re going to download something, they’re going to go into your email list. Okay. Are you going to warm them up? Is there going to be a second or a third or a fourth email after they’ve downloaded your bait piece, your thing? Are they going to just walk in to your website and go to the sales page and then fill out your intake form?


What’s on the intake form?


Again, make it a bit awkward. Ask the hard hitting questions because if a business owner isn’t willing to tell you exactly how it is, then maybe they’re not really ready to work with someone and to let go emotionally of what’s going on and let someone just take over. I mean, you’re a specialist in your field because you’ve done it for whatever, how many years or whatever, even if it’s one year. I mean, if you’re a specialist, you’re a specialist, let’s put it that way.


Think about what you’re going to do to warm people up and build that runway and get them into your business. And then consider your intake form, what’s going to be in it, and then what’s that next step? Are they going to hook up to a calendar and they’re going to just book in and then you’re just going to see calendar bookings come in? Like that is the best feeling ever.


I would really love for you to think about how you’re doing this right now, how you could do it better at all. I would love for you to consider how much time you may be wasting just doing stupid stuff. And I know that there’s a massive fear of if I don’t go out and do networking, then there might not be any clients next month.


But if you can replace that with marketing, social marketing, email and social media, then you will bridge that gap and you will close that fear that you might have that you’ve been holding on that’s old school. There’s no need to run around town anymore. There is great business to be done on the internet. I’m just going to put that there. That’ll be my closing note.


Well, thank you so much for listening to another episode of the Nailing It Podcast. I just want to share that I have had some incredible feedback this week. Actually, it all just kind of rolled in this week. Someone left me a voicemail telling me that it is just … She loves it and she’s on it and she’s just in love with it. And I was like, “Oh my God, thank you. Like you have no idea how much this means to me.”


Kylie said, “I’ve just been listening to your recent podcast and I want to thank you for your advice. That was incredible.” There’s a gentleman here that says, “I know Steph … I follow her podcast which I strongly recommend.” But otherwise that was an email that came through. There’s one more here. There was one more here that came from Instagram. I don’t know where it is. Oh, here it is.


“It’s been great. Lots of little takeaways and confirming that I’m on the right path in business.” Wow, like when I get these feedbacks, honestly it blows my mind. Thank you so much. I can see why the podcast is really growing and there’s little bits just make me come back and give you guys even more. Thank you so much for those that have left feedback this week because, amen. I love you, guys. All right. Adios. Ciao.