When you’re working with the modern generations of clients, time is always of the essence. They want answers before they ask questions and they want to feel heard right away — even if it’s outside of normal business hours. Your ability to keep up with timely responses is a defining factor in a prospect’s decision to book with you — and even whether they choose to continue the conversation beyond square one.
If you’re not showing up when they expect it, they will move on and find someone who can meet their expectations when it comes to promptness. It might seem like a harsh reality. After all, you’re not just a business owner – you’re a human with a personal life. Email replies aren’t always the top priority.
Fortunately, using automation can bridge the communication gap on both sides. Your leads get quick responses, while you don’t feel like you must live inside your inbox. Email auto-responders are a necessity when your inbox is overflowing with inquiries and your calendar is booked solid.
With that said, auto-responders can be done wrong. They can feel stuffy and robotic, they can come at the wrong time, or they can dismiss an inquiry’s questions altogether.
That’s why you need to use the following strategies to make sure your auto-responders are enhancing the sales process rather than taking away from it.
Infuse your auto-responders with personality.
You know those out-of-office responders that are quickly deleted before anyone reads them? They’re nothing more than a few lines of basic plain text that says nothing more than “I’m not here, try again later.” You might put these up during vacations or event days, but these will not support your sales approach.
Instead, you need to consider the people reading your auto-responder: people who are ready to plan an event! They are prepared to invest a significant amount of money to make it happen, so they expect their creative team to be excited and enthusiastic on their behalf. Make sure your emails showcase who you are and build the anticipation rather than letting the energy fall flat.
Provide valuable information.
You likely have an idea of the top questions you hear from new leads — inquiries about availability, travel, pricing, services, timelines, and so forth. While you may not be able to detect and address every single question right away, you can cover most of your bases by including answers to frequently asked questions in your auto-responder.
Just be sure to revisit those emails as your schedule permits to ensure you aren’t leaving other questions unanswered, like whether you’ve worked at a specific venue or how many people attended your largest event. Those are questions you can respond to on your own, knowing that the main details have already been conveyed via auto-responder.
Be transparent in your responses.
Even the best auto-responder isn’t going to fool anyone. People can tell when an email is templated, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If it provides valuable information, showcases your personality, and outlines the next step, it can fill a lead’s need for instant gratification and leave them excited to connect with you personally.
Don’t try to make an auto-responder seem like it’s a personalized email. Remain transparent, and let your recipients know when they can expect to hear from the “real” you. In the meantime, encourage them to read your best blog posts, review your portfolio, or complete your client questionnaire (all linked within the email, of course!).
Jump in when the time is right.
Auto-responders are designed to buy you more time, not take over your whole sales process. That’s still on you, so make sure to reply to every inquiry as soon as possible. Try to stay within 24 hours during the week and 48 hours over the weekend, as waiting too long can push leads to seek out competitors.
Use this as your opportunity to answer any additional questions and follow up on the next steps. If they haven’t scheduled a discovery call or completed a questionnaire, this reply can serve as a gentle nudge. It’s possible they were waiting to hear from you directly before investing any time in the process, so be clear about what needs to happen next to proceed.
Auto-responders are great for streamlining the sales process, but they also have the added benefit of setting boundaries from the very beginning. Your prospects will recognize that you are busy with other events and are not always accessible, but they can trust that they’ll hear from you in a timely manner. All it takes is a thoughtful, value-packed auto-responder to start your client relationship off on the right foot.