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Tips for Handling Calls with Prospective Clients That Want You to Get Started Right Away

Handling Calls

At times, prospective clients are in a rush to get things done. Let’s take a call to talk about what they are looking to do for an example. They may start firing off a list of requests and deadlines before you even discuss price or a contract. They may also use your free consultation as a venting session or verbal free for all. If you find yourself in this situation over and over, here are some tips to combat this issue.

1. Start controlling the conversation before you even talk to Prospective Clients

If you find it hard to take the reins when you’re speaking live and want to completely avoid having calls go awry, you can send the prospective client a questionnaire before you talk to them. This way they can type everything out and you can read it when they send it back. Additionally, you subtract  the stress and potential extraneous information that you don’t need at this point.

Create questions in a Google form. You can get an idea of what they want to do and how much they are looking to spend. This is also a way to pre-screen people and see if what they’re looking for is a fit for you. It can save you both a lot of time and frustration. Let’s say you do you can work with the person and you need to hash out some details on a call. You can already have some information to go by  to structure what to say instead of starting with a blank slate.

2. Set up parameters when you talk to Prospective Clients

Some prospective clients really want to talk to you immedieatly because they want to get started as soon as possible. Remember that sometimes people wait too long to hire help. Maybe they didn’t realize they would need it and might be time crunched when they are looking to hire someone. This happens. So when you talk to them you might be catching them in a stressed-out state. They might be so concerned with their deadlines and getting started right away that they don’t realize that they jumped ahead without hammering out any basics like what you can do for them and how much it will cost.

This is where it’s up to you to control the conversation and put some parameters into place. Have a structured set of questions to ask from the start. If they ramble on the first or second question and go over the amount of time you planned to talk, you might have to politely interrupt and summarize a little bit of what they say and then move on to the next question.

You might even  explain in the beginning how the call is a brief overview, and you’re just getting a general idea. You want them to be able to ask you questions but you don’t want them to monopolize your time and just pick your brain without any intent of working with you. Simply et the gist of what they want and understand the budget. Then, explain how the next step is for you to send over a contract.

3. Create your own structure

Sometimes calls can be very unstructured if you don’t get a handle on the conversation. It’s easy for the person to go into depth about what they want you to do especially if you don’t guide the conversation along. To combat having them ramble and potentially make requests without even hiring you yet, use the questions in the form as a guide to summarize what they are looking to do and explain what you can do for them based on their budget. Also, tell them the purpose of the call from the beginning and the information you will need.

If you feel pressured to commit in the moment to a short deadline and you don’t feel comfortable agreeing to something without fleshing out the details, politely explain how you will send all of the information over in the contract.  Don’t agree to do any work until they sign a contract. Consult a lawyer to cover your bases regarding the services you will provide, payment terms and perhaps a proposed timeline to be super clear about when you can realistically complete work.

The Bottom Line

Set up some structure when you’re fielding calls with prospective clients. You don’t want the call just to be a time where they throw all of their stress at you or where they put you on the spot to commit to something before signing a contract. A little preparation can go a long way and allow you to follow a sequence to get needed information without committing to anything prematurely.

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Financial Editor
Karen is a Nationally Syndicated Personal Finance Writer who sharpens her skills at US News Money. You can also find her placing clients on podcasts and reading about home office organization, productivity and habits.

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