Building a relationship with a potential client can be scary. One of the hardest parts? Going from a conversation to having money in your PayPal account! Booking a client can be very stressful, and I don't want you to stress anymore. Today I am going to share my foolproof strategy for taking calls with clients.
A client call is strategic. Yes, calls give me major anxiety, but they help me close freelance writing deals. For many clients, they feel better about your services once you talk on the phone with them.
A phone call gives you the chance to hear their needs, offer a bit of your expertise, and get the ball rolling on projects. Overall, it's one of the best things you can do for your business.
Today, I am breaking down my strategy so all my fellow introverted freelancers can get on the phone with ease.
1. Try To Resolve Things Via Email Before A Call
Before I offer up my phone number, I always try to resolve things via email first. This doesn't work for every client, but email is a great way to communicate because you know there are no crossed wires and everyone is on the same page. Managing multiple email threads to set up client work can be a pain, though. Email has worked for years, and it continues to be a great way to work with clients.
Ultimately, though, there comes a time when email doesn't work. If you are genuinely interested in closing a client, sometimes the best thing you can do is hop on a call with them. I've had clients that I tried to close for months, and one phone call expedited the process. If things are moving at a snail's pace, try to get them on the phone to have a more in-depth conversation about their needs as a client.
I've found that even when I am not the best speaker, having a call helps the client feel more comfortable booking with me.
2. Don't Think Of A Call As An Interview
One thing that stops people from enjoying client calls is the belief that you are “interviewing” for a job. I don't think of client calls as interviews. Instead, I think of them as an audio “meet and greet.” You are getting to know the client and their needs; they are getting to know you and your work process.
You are a freelancer. By the time they agree to hop on a call with you, they are likely already thinking of using your services. Usually, clients want to hear your voice, chat with you about what you offer, and iron out the details of your collaboration. Clients don't like to waste time with the “interview” process usually.
When you come at the interaction from the “meet and greet” perspective, client calls aren't nearly as difficult!
3. Do Your Research Before Your Hop On A Call
I am a big believer in doing your research before you hop on a call.
You need to know who the client is, what they do, and how you propose helping them out.
If we haven't talked about what exact services I can offer previously, I like to think of a few different custom package options for that client before I jump on the phone with them. I have all my prices and default packages listed on my freelance website, so clients usually know what to expect from me before they hop on the phone.
Hopefully, when you pitched them, you were specific enough about what you can offer them. You may have even talked about their needs a bit beforehand. Take every piece of correspondence you have had with a client into consideration as you are doing your research.
Check out their website one more time if they have one. Try to understand who they are and who they market to. Come up with an “agenda” in your head for how you want to steer the conversation.
4. Create A Before Call Ritual
Calls make me anxious and nervous, but I do them anyway.
So, I have come up with a simple before call ritual for myself over time.
This ritual isn't rigid, it usually involves a ton of music blaring in my office and dancing around the room. My goal? Shake out the nerves so that I am calm and clear.
I make sure that I have some water nearby, a pen and notebook to take notes, and that it's not too noisy around the house if I can help it.
Lots of deep breaths are also taken leading up to getting a call or dialing the number myself. Try to enter all their information in your phone before the nervous butterflies sink in. I like having to just press a button to chat versus entering all the numbers in myself.
5. Take Copious Notes During Your Call
When I hop on a call with a client, I try to take as many notes as possible. Sometimes the clients will come to the call with a Google Document to shape the conversation beforehand, so I won't take as many notes. If it's just a conversation between the client and me, I always take notes.
Write down anything that could help you better understand the project at a later date. Write down any phrases they use, any requirements they mention, et cetera.
If you are not good at listening and writing, record the conversation on your phone or another internet-connected device. You should be able to go back and remember the call in some way.Do you struggle with client calls as an introverted freelancer? Check out these tips from The Happy Arkansan that will take the scariness out of client calls. Click To Tweet
To take effective notes, I love using my journal, Client Calls Simplified. Client Calls Simplified walks you through the entire process of creating an agenda, taking notes, and writing out your next steps so you know what to do to close your client. Plus, it includes client call decompress activities so you can learn from each client call you have.
6. Don't Settle On A Rate On The Phone If Their Needs Blindside You
If your clients don't know what to expect when it comes to a rate, don't feel the need to settle on a price over the phone.
It's okay to go, “Thank you, I am excited to work with you too! I will have to think about your needs to pick out a rate I am comfortable with. I will get back to you via email on ____.”
Take your time to mull over what they need from you. If you feel trapped or are too scared to say your rate over the phone, don't do it. Just because you took a phone call doesn't mean all your correspondence needs to be on the phone. You don't want to ruin your chances of being paid your worth because you were nervous and gave a rate you'll regret.
7. Don't Be Afraid To Walk Away
Sometimes you just know that your rates and your potential client rates won't line up.
A few months ago, I hopped on a call with someone I met in a Facebook group.
She seemed nice enough. But she wanted me to do interview heavy blog posts for $15 a piece. This is what she paid her interns, and she thought this was an acceptable rate for me, a person with a Master's degree who doesn't write content for less than $50 per post (at the time, it's higher now.)
Once I realized that our rates would never match up. I had to walk away. It was a short call. I think we were on the phone for less than ten minutes. There is no need to waste anyone's time once you realize it won't work.
8. Always Follow Up After The Conversation If It Goes Well
After your call, it's time to follow up with your potential client. If you promised to share your rate with them via email, share your rate. If you had anything else to share with them, make sure you share those things within a couple of days of the call.
Usually, a proposal would be the next step, so you can create a great proposal for them via email, using Google Slides, or even a tool like Bonsai.
If a proposal isn't the next step for you and your client, that's okay! Just keep the lines of communication open and don't be afraid to follow up with them.
Even if it doesn't pan out, hopping on the phone will make your more confident as a freelancer.Are you having trouble turning freelance relationships into cash in your PayPal account? Check out these 9 tips for succeeding with client calls as a freelancer! Click To Tweet
9. Hop On As Many Calls As You Can (It Gets Better With Time!)
Last, but not least, hop on as many calls as you can.
You will get better at managing the anxiety and prepping for phone calls.
I used to think of myself as an “academic extrovert” when I was in college because I always liked participating in class even if I was shy in other situations. Now that I don't have class, I try to consider myself a “client call extrovert,” even though I am still slightly awkward on the phone.
Your skills speak for themselves, even if you aren't very great on the phone. No client is going to judge your phone skills if the work they've seen from you is thoughtful and good.
So, just do it. Getting on the phone is a great way to book better, higher-paying clients. Don't let your fear ruin your freelance career, y'all!
Conclusion: Go Out And Take More Client Calls!
I have a challenge for you: if a client relationship has been stalling, offer to hop on the phone with them! You may just be able to turn the relationship into paid work. If it doesn't work out, though, at least you can cross that person off your list and move on to building other relationships with potential clients.
I encourage you to get on the phone more this year. Don't book calls back to back if that kind of conversation drains you, but don't let your fear hold you back from working with awesome clients.
I have so much faith in you! I know that you will rock these client calls and find out that they aren't as scary as you think.