Want to Turn More Prospects into Clients? Get Them on the Phone

In today’s email- and text-centric culture, it’s easy to avoid the phone. And many writers I know would rather get a root canal than hop on the phone with a prospect.

But getting prospects on the phone dramatically increases your chances of converting them to clients. It’s an effective qualifying method that’s well worth the effort.

Here are four steps to making this process less nerve wracking and more effective.

Step #1: Adjust Your Mindset

Most of us are wired to go after every prospect. But you need to shift your focus from quantity to quality.

You don’t have time to field every inquiry and engage every prospect. And you’re not obligated to!

Here’s the thing: You can’t close what’s NOT closeable! It’s not your duty to try and take every inquiry to the goal line. Instead, your job is to determine if this opportunity is something worth pursuing.

If it is, great. If it’s not, that’s OK too!

So when you get an interested prospect, rather than asking yourself, “How can I turn this inquiry into a client?” shift your mindset to the following:

I’m glad I have this inquiry. I don’t know if we’re a good fit. So let’s first find out. If they are a good fit, great. But if they’re not, I want to come to this realization as early as possible, so we can go our separate ways without wasting each other’s time.

Step #2: Continue the Dialogue

With this new mindset, you can get down to the business of getting prospects on the phone.

If your dialogue started via email, then it’s OK to reply via email. But use your reply to try and set up a call:

Hi Maria,

Thanks for your interest in my services!

Yes, I have extensive experience with [Service Name]. However, I’d like to learn more about your project and your requirements before I can determine if this is something I can help you with.

Would you be available for a brief phone call later today or tomorrow? Just let me know a day/time that’s convenient (and the number where I can reach you) and I’ll call you then.

(Or, you can call me right now at XXX-XXXX. I’m in the office!) I look forward to speaking with you.

Alternatively, you could use an online “booking” tool such as Calendly or TimeTrade to make this process easier:

Hi Maria,

Thanks for your interest in my services!

Yes, I have extensive experience with [Service Name]. However, I’d like to learn more about your project and your requirements before I can determine if this is something I can help you with.

Let’s schedule a brief phone call to discuss. Here’s a link to my calendar, where you can schedule a time that works for you:

[URL]

I look forward to connecting!

Step #3: If No Response, Give Them a Call

No response? Call them anyway (usually the next day). Leave a voicemail message that follows the same format as your email. Practice it until it sounds natural.

If you feel some hesitation, remember what I said earlier: You can’t close what’s NOT closeable!

Your job is to determine if this is something worth pursuing. If it is, great. If it’s not, that’s OK too!

Step #4: Don’t Give In Too Easily

If you get a prospect who resists having a phone conversation and instead asks, “How much do you charge for X?”, then you have a choice. You can either insist that you need to know more about the project to provide a meaningful fee range, or you can go ahead and answer the question. And if you answer the question, follow that up with a request to discuss further on the phone:

Hi Maria,

My fee for a white paper varies. It depends on multiple factors, including X, Y and Z, among other things. However, I can tell you that most of the white papers I write are [Project Scope/Size] and range from $2,500 to $5,000.

Again, I can quote you a fixed fee based on your specific project scope and needs.

Would it make sense for us to hop on the phone to discuss further?

If a prospect is unresponsive at this point or gets scared by your ballpark quote, don’t worry. There’s a good chance that their reaction has nothing to do with you.

Sure, when that happens it’s normal to conclude that you’ve done something wrong. But I’ve found that in most cases it’s not something you did or said. And it’s NOT the fee you quoted.

It’s something outside of your control.

You can’t do anything about the fact that the prospect doesn’t want to pay more than $500 for that white paper.

Or that she doesn’t really know what she wants. Or she has a misguided view of the value of our work. Or she’s not marketing-savvy.

Or maybe she just got pulled into another project and is completely overwhelmed.

Again… nothing to do with you.

So when the prospect is unresponsive or balks at your fee or terms, your job is done. And it’s time to move on and find someone who’s ready to work with you.

Because you can’t close what’s not closeable.