talking on the phone to clients

(Image via Sean Davis)

In my blog post yesterday, I wrote that it’s absolutely possible to secure a new client after just one phone call. But you must make a great impression and you must know what questions to ask.

It took me many long years to learn the art of talking on the phone to a potential client. I always prefer meeting in person, because I’m pretty good at interpreting people’s body language; I quickly get a sense of what they like and what they don’t. Over the phone, though, it’s a lot more difficult to read people. Not to mention when you’re speaking to a complete stranger!

So, here’s how to sign a new client with just one phone call:

1. If a potential client calls you, and you aren’t available, return that call as soon as possible. That potential client is no doubt reaching out to other vendors as well. If you don’t act fast, you may lose out on the job altogether.

2. I know we get busy, but don’t ever rush a client, potential or otherwise. Make them feel as though you have all the time in the world for them.

3. Always speak in a conversational tone. Thank the potential client for getting in touch with you, and ask how he or she heard about you. This is good for market research. Plus, it will give you the chance to thank the person who recommended your services (which you should always do!)

4. Remember that your #1 priority is to get as much information possible from the potential client about the event (date, location, time, etc…) However, you don’t want to sound like you’re filling out a questionnaire, either. Yes, the call is an interview (for both of you) but it doesn’t have to feel that way.

5. It’s also very important that you get a real sense of who this person is. What does he or she like? Dislike? Establish this information as quickly as possible because it will inform every idea and discussion that comes after. Think about color and style preferences. Does this client prefer a traditional look? Or maybe something more eclectic?

6. Now, here’s the delicate part: money. Most clients know how much they DON’T want to spend, but very few know how much they DO want to spend. This is where giving price ranges can be very helpful. If the potential client isn’t scared off by the ranges you name, suggest scheduling a meeting where you can give a more complete presentation of your work and services. (Tomorrow, I’ll share my presentation tips to help you secure the job.)

These phone calls are by no means an exact science. However, when potential clients hang up the phone, they should feel blown away by you, your ideas and your services.

Lastly, I’d like to respond to the comment that Mr. Jason Hatch left on my blog yesterday. I had asked if it’s a good idea to list your prices on your site. Jason wrote that he does publish his prices and that he has had great success securing clients this way. I’ve always hesitated to do this, because I fear my prices will scare away potential clients. However, now I’m reconsidering!

But let me ask you all again: Is it to the vendor’s advantage to list prices online? What about publishing just a list of potential price ranges? Is there any concern that competitors will try to take clients away from you by promising to beat those prices?

Please share your thoughts with all of us in the comments.