You’ve been there.
You get a new client, and your initial reaction is:
YESSS! Finally, I can work on something I enjoy and make some sweet, sweet moolah!
But then, you see an email from that client that reads:
I’d like to go over the project details on a quick phone call. What time works best for you?
And suddenly, the client phone call anxiety kicks in.
Your “awwww yeahhhh!” feeling changes to “OH SHIT.”
I mean, you’re a writer. Not a speaker.
Written communication is much more your thaaaaang.
So, why should you have to deal with client phone call anxiety?
Well, I hate to break it to you, but client phone calls are just part of the deal the majority of the time.
I mean, how else are you going to get a full run-down on your client’s business, goals, target audience, and project?
And trust me – I’m not trying to undermine the stress of phone calls when I say this.
I’m not a huge fan of client phone calls either.
I worked in technical support at a call center for a couple years.
So, my brain is pretty much programmed to think that any kind of client interaction over the phone is going to result in them swearing at me and saying something like:
- “THANKS FOR NOTHING!” *click*
- “WELL YOU’RE A WOMAN, SO YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT SPORTS”
- “I KNOW THERE IS A SMALL MAN IN MY TV WHO IS CONTROLLING IT AND MAKING IT NOT WORK AND I NEED YOU TO GET HIM OUT”
(All true stories, by the way. And these are the MILD stories. Call center customers are kind of cray-cray.)
The point is this:
I know what it’s like to have client phone call anxiety.
So, I’m not throwing this blog post at you from the perspective of, “Oh, client calls are SO easy.”
I just want you to know that you CAN handle client phone calls, even if they scare the ever-living shit out of you.
Seriously – if I can do it, then you can too.
Here are my best tips:
How to Handle Client Phone Call Anxiety as a Freelance Writer
1. Create a pre-call ritual
First, brainstorm and try to think of some things that will make you feel confident and/or significantly improve your mood and attitude going into the call.
Maybe that’s stuff like:
- Listening to upbeat music
- Having a mini dance party at your desk
- Looking back at positive feedback from past clients
- Reminding yourself of a past call that went well
- Getting some support/encouragement from a fellow freelance writer
Then, create a routine – something that you do before every client call that makes you feel positive and confident.
Once you’ve got some ideas for your pre-call ritual, start trying things out.
Document your ritual in Evernote or in your project management system, and pull it up before every call.
That way, you remember every step – no last-minute panicking required.
2. Prepare your notes
Ask yourself questions like:
What do I already know about the client / the client’s business?
What suggestions do I have for this client and/or project? (for example, blog post topic pitches)
What questions do I need to ask the client on the call?
Basically, you want to make notes based on anything you need to remember / bring up during the call.
I do this in Evernote, and I start by creating a new note for the client phone call that includes their name, their business name, and the date.
For example, if you had a call with me on January 27th about some Writing Revolt stuff, your note might look like this:
That way, you can remember the date you talked to the client and easily search in Evernote to find exactly what you need later on.
3. Pull up your website + the client’s website
If you’re anything like me, you have the tendency to completely forget what the fuck you’re talking about when you get nervous. #Smooth
Don’t let that make you anxious.
Instead, pull up your website and the client’s website so you can quickly reference any information you need while you’re on the phone.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself:
Okay, I get why I need to pull up the client’s website. But why do I need to pull up my own website?
Well, I’ve found that clients often want to ask you about how you started writing, what you specialize in, what your rates are (side note: you shouldn’t quote them on the first phone call!).
And having all of that information handy in the form of your website helps you avoid getting tongue-tied or ending up in a situation where you don’t know what to say.
Hell, you can even write out an elevator pitch if you want – just a quick sentence or two that covers what you do.
But no matter what, don’t ever read anything directly from your screen like a script.
Remember, you’re just two people talking.
There’s no need to feel like this is some high-pressure situation/interview where you can’t talk to the other person normally!
4. Take comfort in the fact that calls are awkward for everyone!
I’m not just saying that.
I’ve sat in on countless calls, and even the most socially skilled people sometimes trip up.
They deal with awkward silences and weird small talk too.
I mean, you ARE talking to a total stranger when you first schedule a call with a client.
It’s understandable that you wouldn’t be 100% comfortable, ya know?
No one’s expecting you to be some super charismatic person.
They’re not hiring you for your charisma – they’re hiring you because they want you to help them grow their business with your mad writing skillz.
Now obviously, you don’t want to be a dick.
Try your best to be friendly and professional.
But don’t put a ton of pressure on yourself to immediately become the most social person on the planet.
Because if you’re anything like me, that ain’t happenin’.
5. See yourself as two business owners working toward a common goal
This is important.
Client phone calls are NOT job interviews, so don’t treat them that way.
You’re not less of a businessperson than your client.
You’re not trying to become their newest employee.
You’re two business owners who are having a human conversation.
I get that client calls can still be intimidating at first, but keep reminding yourself how awesome you are.
Remember how valuable the service you’re offering is.
And YES…. it really IS valuable.
Whether you write blog posts, email campaigns, website copy, or something else, you have the power to help clients grow their business and make more money.
Don’t forget that.
6. If you’re still not feeling confident, fake it.
You don’t want to fake things like your experience, past results you’ve helped clients achieve, etc.
But it’s 100% okay to fake confidence.
Here are a few tips:
- Use positive affirmations. In other words, talk yourself up out loud. But maybe make sure your roommate isn’t right outside your room when you do this – you know, so they don’t think you’re a complete psycho who talks to themselves on the reg (even though you totally are).
- Smile! That’s right. Much like that random, annoying dude you sometimes pass by on the street, I’m going to tell you to SMILE. Except I’m actually doing it to help you – not to be an obnoxious weirdo. Smiling makes you sound more confident on the phone. Just make sure you go for a warm smile and not a creepy-serial-kiiller smile, okay?
- Talk slower than usual. Don’t slow down to the point where you sound like a sloth who just learned how to talk, but DO make a conscious effort to avoid talking too fast due to nerves.
Also, maybe change out of that ratchet t-shirt and pair of sweats you’ve been wearing for 4 days in a row.
(Not judging you here – I’m also guilty of this.)
I’ve found that, when I’m dressed nicer, I feel more confident.
Weird, but true.
7. BONUS TIP: Want to avoid client phone call anxiety altogether? Specialize in freelance blogging.
I swear, freelance blogging is my perfect niche and so incredible for socially anxious beginners!
Not only does freelance blogging allow me to do what I’m best at – it allows me to avoid doing the things I dislike (time-consuming meetings and phone calls).
Sure, I still get some clients who want to talk on the phone.
And when that happens, I’m 100% fine scheduling a call with them (I’ve even genuinely enjoyed some of these calls – crazy, right!?).
But the great thing about freelance blogging is that you can usually handle everything via email.
Compare that to website copywriting where you typically need to talk to the client so they can talk to you about their business/target audience.
Or compare it to case study writing where you typically need to interview at least one person.
See what I mean?
But don’t let that stop you from specializing in website copywriting or case study writing (or whatever) if that’s what you really want to do.
Do what you’re best at.
Because more often than not, the anticipation of a client call is WAY more stressful than the actual call itself.
And if you want something you can easily reference every time you have a client call, snag this checklist:
It breaks down everything you need to do to prepare + includes some tips and encouragement so your phone calls can go as smoothly as possible!
Tell me in the comments below – do client phone calls make you nervous? How do you combat client phone call anxiety as a freelance writer?