I bet you’ve experienced this maddening and very time-consuming sequence of e-mails …
Prospect Client: I’d love to learn more about your services, can we chat?
Service Provider: Absolutely! Would love to! Are you available next week?
Prospect Client: Yes, next week sounds great! Tuesday?
Service Provider: Oh, I’m sorry, I’m traveling on Tuesday. What about Wednesday or Thursday afternoon?
Prospect Client: Actually, morning would be better—I pick up my daughter from the school at 2 pm on those days. Could we do it Wednesday or Thursday in the morning, by any chance?
Yes, this series of e-mails continues until some decision is made.
Why You Need to Nix these E-Mail Exchanges
1. You’re wasting valuable time. In the example above, the service provider and prospect are on their 5th e-mail and have each lost about 30 minutes (checking e-mail, consulting calendars, responding, etc.). Plus, at this point, they haven’t even discussed how they’re going to connect (phone, Skype, etc.). If they have at least one conversation like this a day, they waste 2.5 hours a week. That’s not good!
2. It’s easy to miss meetings when you use this approach to scheduling.Hopefully, once they’ve agreed on the time, they’ll both note the meeting in their calendars. But if they were in the middle of something and forgot to get back to the e-mail or simply decided to commit the date and time to their memory, there’s a very real chance that one of them will miss the meeting. Trust me, I’ve seen this happen — often.
3. You’re opening yourself up to double-booking headaches. Just when they’re finalizing their meeting details, someone else could easily enter the picture and snatch the time slot that’s just been booked. Maybe that other person, after a long silence, finally decided to agree to a meeting at the time that just a short while ago was available. Maybe the service provider has been negotiating a meeting simultaneously with two people and gave them overlapping options. Either way, more e-mails will have to be exchanged to remedy the situation and, as a result, more time will be wasted.
4. You look unprofessional. Successful business owners don’t put their clients through these kinds of ongoing back-and-forth maze-like exchanges.
An online scheduler can be one of the basic credibility builders that help you make an excellent first impression.
This kind of scheduler will create a clear-cut, simple path for your prospective clients to take when they want to meet with you.
5 Easy Steps for Figuring Out Which Online Scheduler You Need
1. Make a list of “must-have” features.
Consider how this new scheduler will fit into your way of doing things. Does it need to be “talking” to another application? Are there any other absolutely necessary elements that it has to have?
For me, the “must haves” are being able to:
– Sync the scheduler with my main Google calendar, so there’s no conflict with existing commitments
– Automatically convert time between different time-zones, because I work with clients all over the world
– Send reminders to my clients, because in the past my clients, who were just starting to work with me and didn’t have a reliable calendar system in place would be late to our meetings
2. Create a list of “nice-to-have” features.
Here you get to indulge. Think of features that would make your life easier or visual elements that would be appealing.
For me, these “nice to haves” are being able to integrate my scheduler with my website and customize my page, so it looks like an extension of my brand.
3. Take inventory of your existing tools.
Run through the tools you already own to make sure none of them have the features you’re looking for. This step is important so that you don’t end up paying for a bunch of tools you are not using.
For example, if I had fewer requirements, sending my clients a link to my Google Calendar would suffice.
4. Research the alternatives.
Searching for the *right* tool can get overwhelming. But if you’re clear on what you are looking for, it’s that much easier to narrow down the list of options or simply ask for advice.
Check out the comparison chart I’ve created to simplify your decision-making process.
5. Test your find.
If the software you chose has a free trial, use it. See how it feels. Listen to your intuition. Remember, you are not looking for *the best* tool. It just has to be right for you and your business.
TAKE ACTION NOW
If you don’t have an online scheduler, get to work now. Here are a number of options to consider. Create your “must-have” and “nice-to-have” lists and post them in the comments below. I’d be happy to give you a recommendation.