Are you the kind of copywriter who prefers to communicate in writing rather than by phone? (Often newbie copywriters find the phone a little intimidating.)
But the truth is most prospective clients prefer to communicate by phone – either they’re too busy or they’re just not great with the written word – that’s why they need you.
Can you see the problem?
In this post I’m going to share some do’s and don’ts I’ve come up after some excruciatingly uncomfortable phone calls!
These tips have saved my bacon more than once, and I hope they help you, too.
5 copywriting phone call don’ts
- Don’t commit: If you’re not ready to take on a project, set a date or to give a firm quote, then don’t. Simple as that. If the potential client is not happy, then bad luck. If they can’t handle it, they’ll probably be painful clients through the whole project, and you just don’t need that.
- Don’t ask clients to ‘put it all in writing’: Most likely they’re busy, which is why they rang instead of emailing you. If they’ve accepted your quote but you need them to complete a brief – ask if they’d be able to complete it and get it back to you by (X) date. When they hum and hah, just make an appointment for a follow up phone call instead. It saves their time and your sanity.
- Don’t quote on the spot: Every job is different so needing time to prepare a quote is perfectly reasonable. It’s not just the dollar value that can trip you up; it’s the dates and conditions, too.
Cover yourself and prepare a written quote without the pressure of their chatter through the phone.
- Don’t argue: You don’t have to justify anything. Your prices are your prices, your processes are your processes. Comments like, “My last copywriter did it this way” should all be ignored.
If the prospective clients don’t like your processes, they can go elsewhere. No amount of money is worth the problems that these sorts of clients usually bring.
- Don’t be someone you’re not: If you have a picture in mind of what ‘a professional’ is (or is not) get rid of it now. We’re all different, and it’s your individual difference that will bring you the ideal clients for your business. Be yourself.
7 copywriting phone call do’s
- Do be prepared: Client phone calls are unavoidable so be prepared. Put together a call sheet that covers your key information so you don’t sound vague while you search folders on your computer for the right piece of data.
- Do write down your rates and stick to them: This is an important one. If you can’t remember your pricing, you won’t be able to give an accurate estimate. You don’t want to under-quote, do you?
Have your pricing rate card ready to go.
- Do prepare questions: Create a list of questions you can ask every client, such as:
- What is the job?
- What does it need to achieve?
- When do you need it by?
- How many words do they estimate it to be?
- What is the purpose of the copy?
- Who are your customers?
- Why do they choose you?
- Why are you unique?
- What are your customers’ needs or pain points?
- How will your product or service help solve the customer’s problem?
- What sort of feel do you want the content to give?
- What sort of language would you like me to use?
- Who will be approving the work?
- Are you able to meet my payment terms?
The answers to these questions will give you a pretty good idea about the project and whether or not you want the job. They’ll also tell you a lot about the people you’ll be working for and how you’re likely to get along.
Another idea is to download our briefing template – and use the questions on the call, then send the completed brief to the client for their approval.
- Do listen: Pay attention to the answers and take notes. Don’t feel that you have to answer every question that they ask. You’re perfectly entitled to say “Let me get back to you on that.” So take the pressure off yourself and set your attention on listening instead of preparing answers to questions you think they will ask.
- Do be real: The potential client may be putting their business – their ‘baby’ – into your hands. They need to know that they can trust you, and that you really understand what’s best for their business. You’re going to have to give more than two or three word answers. You might even need to talk about your background and the kind of work you’ve been doing. Add some notes to your information sheet so you can scan it when you need to. It’s much easier to talk about yourself when you have the information in front of you.
- Do discuss next steps: The potential client will want to know what happens next. If you have a process that you follow, explain what it is.
- Do you email questions to be answered before you prepare a quote?
- Do you email the quote straight away?
- What happens if they accept the quote?
- How do you start doing the work?
Boost their confidence in you by telling them what to expect, and sticking to it.
- Do follow up with an email summary: I like to have everything in writing, which is a bit hard when it’s all been handled by phone. By writing a summary of the conversation and sending it to the potential client you can confirm that you’ve understood them correctly and that you’re both on the same page.
The email serves as a record of the conversation that you can refer to if you need to pull back the project scope to its original boundaries.
I’ve learned over my 6 years as a copywriter that the telephone offers a much more personal form of contact than email.
The reality is that phone calls are far more likely to turn an enquiry into a paying customer.
Phone calls may never be your preferred form of client contact but, with some preparation, you can take control and make them work for you.
Over to you
How do you deal with client phone calls? Do you love them or loath them? Please share your tips below:
Anne Maybus is a content writer, copywriter and ghost writer who loves to tell stories. If you want your writing to build relationships with your clients, she’s your girl. You’ll find her at Clever Streak with her nose in a good book and a cup of tea not too far away.