A Trick from the 20th Century That Actually Works!

I needed a reliable moving company a couple of years ago. So I contacted two local movers that came highly recommended.

One of them sent me an impersonal estimate over email. The quote was reasonable, and they looked to be very reputable.

The other handled the inquiry a bit differently. They didn’t send quotes via email. Instead, they scheduled a time for one of their reps to do an on-site quotation.

The guy showed up on time. He was very courteous and got right to the chase. He asked me direct questions about what we were looking for, what we needed moved, what we wanted to move ourselves. That sort of thing.

Then he took five minutes to explain why they’re different from most moving companies … and why that matters. He kept this part of the conversation relevant and low-pressure. He didn’t spew out a canned sales pitch. Instead, he focused on what he knew I cared about (which he understood because he had asked me a few good questions earlier).

When he was done, he asked me if I had any questions or concerns. Then he promised to send me an estimate by the end of the next business day. And he made good on that promise.

Well … his quote turned out to be a bit higher than the other company’s. But guess which mover I went with?

As freelance writers, it’s easy to believe the story that clients hire us mainly for our writing chops. Or that it’s all about the price. Or that our website will do all the selling for us.

Yes, your website is incredibly important. It can help pre-sell your prospects to a certain extent.

But once they express interest and contact you, there’s nothing like getting that client on the phone to have some real dialogue.

Not email. Not IM. Not a private message via social media.

The phone.

These introductory calls don’t have to be long. Twenty or 30 minutes is plenty of time to better understand what the prospect needs and how you can help them.

Take the time to have that conversation. Because in a world where most other service providers strive for digital efficiency, the human touch is more important than ever.

Remember: They’re not buying your writing. They’re buying YOU.



  • Robyn Conti

    Ed, this is a great post, and a solid reminder about adding “a little of that human touch” to all interactions. Connections and relationships are so important. I preach this all the time to anyone who’ll listen like it’s the gospel! Thanks for the story and the awesome advice.

  • Jennifer Kent

    Awesome and so true!!!

  • Chung

    A good reminder, Ed.

    Problem is a lot of people shy away from using the phone when it’s the best opportunity to connect with a human being. I do still find myself using email sometimes – dumb dumb. Appreciate the reminder.

  • Lydia Brown Mills

    This is so true. We have our own business and this is exactly what my husband does – and most of the time we get the jobs. And it’s an industry that is a whole lot different that copywriting or marketing. So it works across the board.

  • I steer every prospect towards the phone call because I want to be sold on the client, too. They’re not the only ones making a decision. I want to know I’m joining a team that know’s where they’re going, or at the very least, I’ll know what I’m getting in to before hand if it’s not my ideal client.

    The phone call also pulls things in my favor, even if the client doesn’t like something about me as a writer.

    Two days ago, I was on the phone with a big name client that I’ve had on my “wish list” for some time. I don’t have enough experience for them, but I know because the marketing manager liked my demeanor, confidence, and honesty on the phone, she’s still considering me.

    She’d never look twice at me if it were email. She needed to hear what it would sound like to be in a project meeting or conference call with her bosses or SME’s, if she brought me in on the project. That only happens on the phone, or better yet, video chat.

    What do you all think of video chat for sales calls?

  • Great reminder, thanks, Ed!

  • Bob Martel

    Couldn’t agree more. My preferred “next step” is an incoming phone call. Of all the modalities of human communication, the voice is tops in communicating attitudes and emotions authentically. That’s vital to understanding where your prospect is coming from and establishing trust (both ways.) You have to have a conversation. E-mail and tweets are sterile exchanges and can be misleading.

  • William Morrison

    I take it the price difference between the two companies was enough to cover the cost of the personal touch? Was your move a high-value job?

    The consierge treatment often drives me away from a business. I can’t help reflecting on the choices they make spending their company assets. Are they selling me sizzle or steak? ‘Cause, while I enjoy sizzle as much as the next guy, I’d prefer to end up with a full stomach at the best possible price per calorie.

  • johmill

    Your story reminds me of something similar that happened to me a few years ago. We live in a forested area and a forest fire destroyed over 500 homes and stopped about a 1/2 mile from our home. But the heat was so great that it damaged our roof beyond repair. So, I contacted 5 roofing companies for estimates. 1 didn’t show up. 1 said they weren’t interested. Of the 3 that showed up, all were professional and very likable, but the guy I hired was very different from the rest. He arrived on time (a rare thing in that industry) and the first thing he did was to hand me a copy of their contractor’s license, 3 letters of reference from previous customers, and a copy of their liability insurance. Then he started asking questions as we climbed on the roof to look at the damage. He not only asked questions, he educated me about roofing and what was needed and wasn’t needed. He didn’t know that years ago I was a contractor and already knew what was needed, but I kept quiet and listened. Everything he said was accurate and true. And, when I asked about some extras he honestly told me what I needed and what I didn’t and then left it up to me. He closed the appointment by saying that if I wanted him to he’d be happy to be there when the insurance adjuster came out so he could answer their questions and make sure they were not trying to shortchange me on my claim.

    After thought and discussion with my wife I decided to hire his company. And I took him up on the offer to be there with the insurance adjuster. When she arrived he was there with me and we all had a good talk and look at the damage. He was very helpful and even raised some issues I hadn’t thought of and that we hadn’t discussed before, such as how much money I’d save in insurance premiums if I upgraded to the best shingles. She thanked me for having him there and the claim went through without a hitch. What was nice, too, was that for the cost of the upgraded shingles my insurance premiums dropped enough to pay for them in 2 years, and the upgraded shingles had a warranty that was 50% longer than the cheaper ones.

    His company did a great job, even their cleanup. And his professionalism not only got him a sale from me, but a reference he’s used with other prospects and a few referrals, too. And by the way, he was the youngest of all the reps I met with but far more professional and knowledgeable.

  • I like the way the second company presented themselves. I would have went with them too. I am also shy about making calls to prospective clients. Love the article though.