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How to Systemize Communication With Leads (+ 11 FREE Templates!)

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Annie Maguire is a freelance Conversion Copywriter who helps startups and small businesses move leads from “no” to “YES!” If you’d like to learn more about Annie, you can check out her website here.

When I first started freelancing, I spent a lot of time communicating with leads — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I would spend hours of precious, billable time writing the same responses to the same requests and questions practically every day, which added up to lot of wasted time (and a lot of headache) for me.

After doing this for a year or two, I finally came up with a templated system for ALL leads, ensuring a consistent process for communication that protects my time and sanity, while preventing me from wasting time with leads that aren’t a good fit.

Below I walk you through my 6-step process and the exact templates I use to systemize conversations with leads, from first touch to final proposal. 

I invite you to incorporate these templates into your process to help you save time and headache when it comes to landing new biz. 

But first, let’s quickly touch on which tools to use in order to make the process as seamless as possible.

The right tools for your system

To keep things super simple, I use Mixmax, which has a “templates” feature, so all you have to do is add the text templates into your system and click a button to insert them into any email response. 

Mixmax also allows you to track opens and views, so you can see when a lead has read your email or not. You can also adjust the settings to get “follow-up reminders,” ensuring leads never fall through the cracks.

Of course, storing your templates in a folder on Google Drive can be just as effective, but Mixmax cuts out that “extra step” of having to find and open the folder, copy, then paste the templates into the emails.

That covers the tools (super easy, right?) — now let’s get into the process and the FREE templates.

Step 1: Ask questions via email

As I mentioned above, the number one way to waste your own time is by entertaining unqualified leads.

I know this because I spent my first few years as a freelancer doing exactly that. People would reach out through email, I’d get excited about the possibility of a project, and would schedule a call without asking the right questions first.

This would inevitably lead to a lot of wasted time and disappointment on my end because I was constantly entertaining leads that would go nowhere.

Eventually, I developed the “First touch” template (below), which allows you to get the information you need to weed out bad leads, without offending or turning people off.

Use this template for every lead that comes your way, regardless of where they came from or how qualified you may believe them to be (this one template is the most valuable of the bunch and it has saved me countless hours of precious, billable time).

Template #1 – First touch (use for EVERY lead)

Hi [Name],

Thanks for reaching out! It’s great to be connected with you. 

I’d love to learn more about your project, but before we jump on a call, can you answer a few questions for me to ensure we’re a good fit?

  • What kind of [insert your field, i.e. – design, copy, etc] work are you looking for (i.e. – [add in examples of the kind of work you offer])?
  • What goals are you trying to achieve (i.e. – [insert typical goals you help clients achieve])?
  • What is your ideal timeline for this project?
  • Do you have a budget set aside (or a range you’d like to stay within)?

Thanks and talk soon!

[Your name]

Step 2: Schedule a call (or end the conversation)

After the lead has responded, you will know immediately if this person is a good fit for you or not. 

If they ARE a good fit, use the first template below to set expectations and set up a call. You’ll notice I also include the question about time zone, ensuring there’s no chance of a “mixup” in terms of scheduling.

Template 2 – Use if the lead is a GOOD fit for you

Hi [Name],

Thanks so much for replying with this information! 

Based on your responses, it sounds like we’d be a good fit. I’d love to jump on a Zoom call to learn more about your needs.

Let me know which days/times work for you and I’ll do my best to work around your schedule (just a heads up, I’m on [insert your timezone]; which time zone are you in?).

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Best,

[Your Name]

If you discover that a lead if NOT a good fit for you, do not continue the conversation; I know it can be tempting, but it’s only going to waste your time and theirs, so cut it off as soon as possible.

If this is the case, use one of the templates below to explain why you’re not a good fit in a direct, but kind way. Make sure to leave the conversation on a positive note, allowing you to keep the door open if anything changes in the future.

Template #3 – For leads who don’t have the budget (NOT a good fit)

Hi [Name],

Thanks so much for replying with this information! 

While I’d love to help, my project minimum is [insert your project minimum] and most of my projects range from [insert your average range], which won’t work with your budget this time around.

That being said, if anything changes, let me know and we can take it from there. 

Either way, I wish you the best of luck in finding the right person for the job and hope you find success!

Best,

[Your Name]

Template #4 – For leads who want something you don’t offer (NOT a good fit)

Hi [Name],

Thanks so much for replying with this information! 

While I’d love to help, I specialize more in [list your specialties], not [insert whatever they’re looking for], so I don’t think I’m the right person for this particular project.  

That being said, if anything changes, let me know and we can take it from there.

Either way, I wish you the best of luck in finding the right person for the job and hope you find success!

Best,

[Your Name]

Template #5 – For leads whose timeline does not match up with yours (NOT a good fit)

Hi [Name],

Thanks so much for replying with this information! 

While I’d love to help, I’m not available until [insert date], which won’t work with your timeline.

That being said, if anything changes, let me know and we can take it from there.

Either way, I wish you the best of luck in finding the right person for the job and hope you find success!

Best,

[Your Name]

Step 3: Schedule a call and include an agenda

Once you have a qualified lead, it’s time to set up a call to learn more about the person, their needs, and how you can help.

With my meeting invite, I always include a Zoom meeting link and a meeting agenda so the lead knows what we’ll be discussing and can prepare responses ahead of time (it also helps to structure and guide the conversation).

Having a meeting agenda also signals to the lead that you are experienced and have a specific process, which can inspire confidence before you start working together. 

Here’s my templated meeting agenda:

Meeting agenda

  • Quick intros — Tell me more about you 
  • Review — Product, Customers, Goals, Scope + Timeline 
  • Discuss — Project fit, Price + Any other details
  • Wrap up — Discuss next steps 

During this meeting, I ask questions, take notes, and I always make sure to address the price. It doesn’t have to be an exact number, but a range helps to set expectations so they’re not caught off guard when the proposal comes through.

If it sounds like the project is viable, end the call by letting them know you’ll send a recap after the call and when they can expect to see a proposal.

Step 4: Send a recap email right after the call

Immediately after the call, use the template below to send a brief email that recaps everything you discussed during the call. Be sure to include when you’ll send through the proposal and any other information that may be important.

In my experience, it’s best to send the proposal within 1-2 days of speaking with a lead; if you wait too long, their circumstances may change or they may choose to go with another freelancer who responded more quickly.

Template #6 – Recap email (Send right after the first call or meeting)

Hi [Name],

It was great speaking with you today! Thanks so much for taking the time.

Here’s a brief recap of what we discussed:

Scope: [insert]

Timeline: [insert]

Budget: [insert]

Please let me know if I missed anything. In the meantime, I’ll be working on a proposal based on your needs, which I’ll send through on [insert day or date].

If you have any questions, let me know. I’ll be in touch soon!

Best,

[Your Name]

Please note: some freelancers prefer to schedule a meeting to discuss the proposal (rather than sending it via email) which is not something I do, but I would definitely recommend it as it can help you close more projects.

If this is the case for you, use the template below to schedule a follow-up meeting where you’ll review the proposal together:

Template #7 – Send after the first call or meeting (use if you’re planning to schedule a follow-up meeting to review the proposal vs sending the proposal via email)

Hi [Name],

It was great speaking with you today! Thanks so much for taking the time.

Here’s a brief recap of what we discussed:

Scope: [insert]

Timeline: [insert]

Budget: [insert]

Please let me know if I missed anything. In the meantime, I’ll be working on a proposal based on your needs. 

The proposal will be ready on [day]; is that a good day for you and I to jump on the phone so we can run through it together?

Let me know whenever you have a moment.

Thank you!

[Your Name]

If the lead is NOT a good fit (and you did not make this clear on the call), use the template below to explain why in a direct, but kind way:

Template #8 – If the lead no longer seems like a good fit

Hi [Name],

It was great speaking with you today! Thanks so much for taking the time.

After learning more about your needs, I don’t think I’m the right person for you project. [Feel free to explain specifics here, if it makes sense]. 

If anything changes on your end, please let me know (and I’ll do the same).

I wish you the best of luck in finding the right person for the job and hope you find success!

Best,

[Your Name]

Step 5: Send the proposal

If you didn’t already schedule a meeting with the lead to review the proposal together, you’ll want to mention something like that in your email with the proposal link or attachment.

Something like the template below keeps things short and sweet, but also emphasizes the idea that you’d like to discuss more over the phone.

I personally prefer this approach because it gives leads a chance to review the proposal on their own, but also sets the expectation that there will be a follow-up discussion, making it less likely for them to ignore or ghost you.

Template #9 – Sending the proposal + scheduling a follow-up meeting

Hi [Name],

I hope you’re doing well!

As promised, here is the proposal for your project: [link to proposal]

Is there a good day/time this week for us to jump on the phone to discuss further?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Best,

[Your Name]

Step 6: Close the deal (or end the conversation)

At this point, you should have either gotten feedback on your proposal via email or over the phone, so it’s time to either move forward with the project or end the conversation if the lead is no longer viable.

Below are two templates you can use, depending on the outcome or situation; if you are moving forward with the project, send the contract immediately so you lock it in as soon as possible.

Template #10 – If YES, you’re moving forward with the project!

Hi [Name],

Glad to hear it! Thanks so much for sharing this exciting update.

In terms of next steps, I’ll send over a contract today via [insert your contract method; I use HelloSign]. 

Thanks again — I look forward to working with you!

Best,

[Your Name]

Template #11 – If the project is NOT moving forward

Hi [Name],

Thanks so much for letting me know!

While I wish we could have made it work this time around, I completely understand where you’re coming from. [If it makes sense, insert specifics about budget, timeline, project, etc].

If anything changes, feel free to let me know; I hope we can connect again sometime soon.

Best of luck with your project! 

[Your Name]

Systemizing communication = more time (and less headache!) for you

As you can see, it’s totally possible to completely systemize your communication with leads, which at the end of the day, will save you tons of time and cut out all the unnecessary pain and discomfort that can arise when dealing with unqualified leads.

I hope you find these templates useful — feel free to adapt them as needed to fit your specific business, audience, and goals!

If you’d like to learn more, check out my eBook, From Full-time to Freelance, which is packed with more helpful freelancing stories, advice, and tips.

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