Friday, February 29, 2008

Phone Conversations, Part II

I had a rather bad experience on the phone with a prospective client a few weeks back. The client sent me an email with the link to his site, and asked me what I thought could be improved--and to give him a call. I drew up an exhaustive list, and I felt ultra-prepared for the phone call. But when we spoke on the phone, I didn't get a good vibe. I was enthusiastic and confident and had plenty of suggestions. The person on the other end seemed unenthused, to say the least. When I got done with my thorough analysis, he said, "But I want to take my business in a new direction and appeal to a different audience. What about that?"

This wasn't information he gave me over the phone, but the problem was still on my end: I had drawn up a ton of suggestions, but I had not addressed what he specifically wanted to do with the site. I talked a lot, and I didn't listen much.

I could have avoided this problem by talking less and letting the client talk more. If he needed prompting, I could have asked questions: What are you trying to do with this site? What do you like most about what's already there? What do you most want to change? Who is the audience you're trying to appeal to? Once I had that information, I could talk about what to change based on the ideas I'd drawn up earlier. I made a decision to start with questions, not statements, in my next phone calls.

I've been on the phone a lot this week, and instead of being super-prepared and writing down every possible response to every question I might be asked, I've decided to go against my own advice and wing it. I've taken a careful look at the sites in question, but I made a conscious decision not to push my own ideas too early--not without knowing exactly what the client wants to do.

I've been thinking about it a lot since my non-successful phone call a few weeks ago, and I've decided that my lack of affinity for the phone is definitely holding me back. In the next few weeks, I'm going to be more pro-active with calling prospective clients. I'm going to actually suggest it. The more practice I have, the more confident I can be on the phone--and the more money I can generate for my business.

After I've done this enough to learn a thing or two, I'll write a post detailing my successes and failures--so stay tuned.


Lori said...

Oh, have I been in the same boat, Jen! The dude called me out of the blue, and I rattled on like a hyperactive idiot. I was trying to be enthusiastic, but I think I came across as a witless dork. Not the image I was going for!

Live and learn. The phone is the toughest because there are no rewrites. :)

Jennifer Williamson said...

That's exactly the problem, Lori--no rewrites, no takebacks, no proofreading. You just blurt out whatever's front and foremost in your brain. No wonder I get all worked up over it!

Shreyesi said...

I am going attend my first call as this is my first job.....i am very nervous...
but i will surely follow the advice of listening more...rather than speaking more