Sometimes, you might find yourself pursuing something that doesn't materialize — no matter how badly you want it to or how hard you try.
Not every minor league baseball player makes it to the MLB. Plenty of scientists dedicate a significant portion of their careers studying a potential chemical reaction — only to find it's not actually possible.
And in some cases, Natalie from your English class might say "no" when you ask her to homecoming even though you bought her flowers and got her chocolates and painted her car windows with that window paint that's way more expensive than you thought it would be and asked her in front of a bunch of people and played that song "Lips of an Angel" by Hinder on a boombox while you did it.
No, not everything is meant to be. It's a universal phenomenon — one that businesses aren't exempt from. Sometimes the clients and deals you pursue won't pan out. But what if you could get ahead of that? What if there were a way to vet your potential clients to help you know which ones aren't worth your time?
Well, something called a client intake form can serve that purpose. Here, we'll learn more about what that kind of document is, see what should be on the one you create, and get a template for one your business can use.
What is a client intake form?
A client intake form is a questionnaire an agency uses to essentially onboard its clients. It asks a client to provide information that can help an agency both determine whether that client is a good fit for its services and shape a strategy to address that prospect's needs, interests, and pain points.
Client intake forms are used by a variety of organizations and individual contractors — spanning several industries and practices. Doctors, law firms, accountants, and virtually any other kind of company or businessperson that deals with clients can leverage these kinds of documents.
For the sake of this article, we're going to focus on client intake forms for B2B agencies that aid primarily with sales, marketing, or service challenges. And as anyone who works in those sectors can tell you, not every prospect you engage with is a viable business opportunity.
Some are much more feasible than others, but discerning between a prospect with whom you can have a productive relationship and one who might leave you hanging is easier said than done.
You can waste a lot of energy conducting research, phone screens, and email outreach trying to chase down potential clients who ultimately lack the interest in or need for your services.
That's where client intake forms come in. These documents can weed out any potential clients who might not be a good fit, straight off the bat — saving you considerable time, effort, and resources.
What to Put on a Client Intake Form
Fundamental Contact and Company Information
A Description of What the Client Makes or Does
The Challenges the Client Currently Faces
The Client's Goals
Overview of Competitors
Room for Any Information or Questions That Might Not Have Been Covered
1. Fundamental Contact and Company Information
You can't have a client intake form without covering the basics. Contact and company information is key for keeping records and being able to reliably reference these documents down the line.
This section should cover a company's name, the primary contact at that company, their preferred contact methods, their role, their company's size, and other logistical fundamentals that give you a high-level overview of what the organization in question looks like.
2. A Description of What the Client Makes or Does
Once you've covered the basics, you can start to get into the meat of the intake form. With this, you let your client describe their brand and its main products or services. This information can offer you a lot of telling insight that can help you understand whether a client is right for your agency.
Let them tell you what they do — hear it from their perspective. How they describe their product or service can give you a better picture of how they view their company identity and a clearer understanding of how you should approach your relationship with them.
It can also help to have them describe their company values in this section. Again, having them do so will show you how they conceive of their business and can reveal more about what kind of client they might be.
3. The Challenges the Client Currently Faces
Here's where you really start to place how your agency can best serve this client. Give them the space to describe what they feel to be the primary issues and concerns facing their organization.
What might be holding them back? Where are their weaknesses? Are your agency's services relevant to those issues? If so, are you well-equipped and suited to help them with those challenges?
Let them tell you what they're looking for. It might also help to have them explicitly describe how they feel your agency can help them move forward. Letting them articulate what they think your agency can do for them will tell you a lot about their expectations and what kind of client they'll be.
4. The Client's Goals
Like the point above, this section will tell you a lot about the place your agency can have in your potential client's future and operations. Your client's goals provide the most definitive picture of the hopes and expectations they'll bring to your professional relationship.
They can show you how viable a working partnership between your agency and their organization is. If they describe lofty, way-too-out-there ambitions that you won't be able to deliver on in this section, you'll know you have to have a frank conversation about what your agency can realistically do for them.
5. Budget Information
This might be the most important point to consider on this list. It underscores almost every other section addressed here. If a company's budget isn't sufficient, then you won't be able to do much for their challenges, goals, and vision.
It might go without saying, but clients need to be able to afford your services. If the budget they provide in this section isn't where it needs to be, you'll have to have a conversation to see if they're willing to bump that figure up.
If their budget meets your standards, this section gives you a reference point for the resources you'll be able to allocate to assist the client. It also helps you set some boundaries to frame the strategy you'll employ to help the organization in question.
This section often serves as a starting point for shaping the way you serve this client. It gives you some valuable reference points for understanding how the company in question operates. With this information, you know where to look to see how companies in the potential client's space function.
You can see the strategies their competitors are employing and determine whether your agency can leverage those tactics. If you check out a potential client's competitors and see that their operations are totally foreign to your services, you might decide that their company isn't a good fit for you.
7. Room for Any Information or Questions That Might Not Have Been Covered
What else do your potential clients need you to know? Do they have any relevant information that you didn't ask for? And beyond that, is there anything else they'd like to know from you? This point can start those conversations — it's general enough to fill in any cracks that the previous sections might have left.
Client Intake Form Template
Here's a client intake form template from HubSpot that your business can use to screen new clients.
As I said, not everything is meant to be, and it's easy to waste a lot of time chasing down an opportunity that might blow up in your face. But with a well-crafted client intake form, you can get ahead of those potential duds and keep your agency running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Originally published Nov 4, 2020 8:30:00 AM, updated November 04 2020