Sometimes the hardest part about being copywriter has nothing to do with writing in the first place. Sure, it can be hard remembering the correct usage of the semicolon, but the job gets even trickier when it’s time to close a sale.
Copywriters are trained at communicating with people through beautiful words, graceful sentences, and effective punctuation. But when it comes to phone calls, in-person meetings, or even emails, we can be at a loss. I mean, we were English majors for crying out loud – not business majors!
But there’s no reason to fear sales time, in fact, once you get over the inevitable jitters that any salesperson would get, it’s really just about confidence in your service and conveying that to your potential client. In that light, I’ve outlined the five steps that have helped me bring in clients as painlessly as possible.
Step #1: Ask Questions
This is an important first step for both parties involved. You need to know exactly what you’re being hired to do and why, and the client deserves to know your competency level. The type of questions you ask will relate to your writing style and process; if you ask the right questions, the client will know they’re hiring the right guy or gal for the job and you won’t have to keep calling your client back up for clarification.
The questions I ask changed from client to client and project to project but I always like to know what I’m supposed to be writing, who I’m writing it for, and why I’m writing it. Kind of a fool-proof interview!
Step #2: Keep It Short
After you’ve got your questions answered, it’s your turn to tell the client what you can do for them and to persuade them they’re in good hands. The best sales pitches are short, sweet, and to the point.
They don’t need to know or want to know the intricacies of your writing routine. They just want to know that you can get the job done, and do it well. If you feel like you’re leaving a lot of pertinent information out, don’t worry…your client will always ask questions back. And this is where Step #3 comes in.
Step #3: If You Don’t Know The Answers, Don’t Answer
I’ve been caught in this predicament more than a few times but the best policy is always honesty. Whether your client wants to know about formatting or proper distributing channels or even the correct spelling of the word kumquat, just be honest and say you don’t know the answer but you’d be happy to research it and get back to them. While I’ve had impatient clients before, I’ve never had someone walk away because I couldn’t truthfully answer a few questions.
Step #4: The Proposal
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about sales, it’s that people hate making decisions. If you present a lot of information to someone and let them just mull it over, they’ll get lost in their own thoughts. However, if you make a nice and catchy presentation and end with, ‘So can I send you a proposal?’ you’ve made most of the decision for them.
Not only have you told them what you can do for them, but you’ve also just put your contract right into their hands. It’s kind of like hearing a car salesman list a bunch of statistics about that Ferrari to you, but once the keys are in your hand, well, it’s go time. If that’s not a surefire sales pitch, then I don’t know what is!
Step #5: Follow Up Emails
This step is crucial. People like to know that you’ve been listening to them, that you understand their needs and goals; the best way to convince them of this to regurgitate that information in an email after the call or meeting.
Furthermore, the follow up email keeps you in contact with your client, opens another channel of communication, and gives you the opportunity to arrange your next call or meeting. It might sound like tedious or repetitive work but it’s a great way to, once again, make sure everyone is on the same page about the project and happy with the discussion.