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5 do's and 5 don't's when phoning for freelance and consulting work

I have long advocated simply picking up the phone and calling prospects to offer our freelance and consulting services. Here are five important tips to improve your success rate.

Do:

  1. Offer a service that is used by companies, also called B2B (business to business), rather than by individuals. Businesses are more likely to have the money and to spend the money to purchase your service.

  2. Choose people to phone who are most likely to need your services and to have the money to buy them. That means people in the right jobs at the right companies.

  3. Phone during work hours.

  4. Make the call yourself. The point of your call is to initiate a relationship—that's something you can best do for yourself.

  5. Leave a clear, complete message if you don't reach anyone. If you don't leave a message, it's a wasted call.

Next, here are five practices to avoid.

Don't:

  1. Don't group your prospect with other people in some general category. In other words, don't say, “I am calling people in your industry today” or “I am phoning people in your area.” Make your prospect feel he is special (he is!), not just one of many.

  1. Don't phone prospects before or after usual work hours in the hope that their assistants are not in so they will take their own calls. Sure, they may take your call before 8 am or after 5 pm, but they may also perceive you as a real nuisance. Anyway, you can fit in more calls if you expand your calling schedule into the regular workday.

  1. Don't strategize over the best time of the workday to phone. You can't determine from afar when your prospect is at his desk so why try? If you think too much about this, you won't call before he may be at his desk, when he may be in a meeting, when he may be at lunch, or when he may be ducking out early. In other words, you'll talk yourself totally out of phoning.

  1. Don't set daily sales goals. You can only control your activity; you can't control your results. Instead, set goals as to how many calls you will make today. Anyway, very few assignments are landed in a single call. You must give prospects time to consider your message and respond. Some of these responses may not come in for years! So allow some time.

  1. Don't reveal your fee for a specific project in your first conversation. Most quotes are by the project, meaning you must determine both your rate per hour and the number of hours required. It takes time to calculate all this. In addition, the size of the client company, the financial impact of the project, the deadline, and other criteria are perfectly valid considerations in price setting. Even if you think you know the price you will quote, give yourself 24 hours—or longer—to marinate the decision. (Your reconsidered number may ell be higher than your initial guestimate.)

Originally posted 4-25-14

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