I’ve been doing some cold calling recently and have been fairly horrified at eight things that I know turn away potential new business even before any contact is made. You can make sure you’re not turning off potential freelance writing clients by avoiding these mistakes:
The phone is answered by someone on a cell phone and the reception is lousy. I really don’t understand this, but it seems at least in the U.S. that cellphone reception is anything but reliable. I’m amazed at how many times I have to say ‘I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.” Often the person on the other end will do something, maybe take me off speaker, and I can then hear them. If you get complaints from people who can’t hear you clearly, quit using the cell phone and go back to your landline. Seriously. If the potential client can’t understand you they will call someone else.
The phone is answered by an automatic message warning me that the call will be recorded. What is this all about? I call a business and the first words I hear are something like “To assure quality service and to help with training this call will be recorded.” And I’m talking about small businesses, even those with one or two people. What it seems to assume is that I’m going to sue them at the drop of a hat. Again, these are not people I want to deal with – has anyone done any studies on this?
The voice mail system that always plays Dave Brubeck’s Take 5. I’ve loved Brubeck’s jazz since the 60s, but give me a break. Apparently there’s some phone service out there that offers Take 5 as an option for hold music and it’s used by tons of people. What’s wrong with silence, with maybe an occasional soft beep to let me know I’m still connected At least I’d be able to listen to my own music during the hold time.
Google voice mail assuring me they’re attempting to reach whomever. Is google ever successful at reaching whoever it is? It seems like that announcement only happens when the person isn’t available. Why not go directly to the leave a message message?
The service that asks for my name and press pound before attempting to connect. Is this supposed to eliminate sales calls? Warn the person calling that it’s their mother-in-law? I don’t mind giving my name to a machine, but I don’t see the purpose, particularly when it usually ends up asking me to leave a message anyway.
Small typeface on the website. Okay, you already know I’m no longer twenty, but when you put your website up with tiny type you’re making it difficult for a whole bunch of people to read – boomers, for example, and seniors. Both those are huge markets; most don’t know that they can boost the type face. In my opinion anything less than 12 point type is just plain silly. It’s not as if you were going to run out of space. Make it easy for folks to read what you have to say. Seems like these sites are also afraid of white space, but study after study tells us people don’t read on the web the way they do on paper. White space helps us read what you have to say
No obvious phone number on the website. Why in the world would you hide your phone number. Yet site after site I see makes me hunt. A business line can help protect you if that’s your worry. And learn how to turn your phone off so it rolls to voicemail when you don’t want to be bothered. Oh, and if you’ve got some number like 555.cute, please include the 2883 in numbers for those of us who don’t type well on our phone keypads.
If you look at each of these seven items you’ll see that everyone of them creates some sort of a barrier between you and someone who might want to do business with you.
Look at your website. Listen to your voicemail message. Pay attention if someone tells you they can’t hear you over your phone. Look again at all your marketing materials and all the ways you present yourself and your writing to potential clients. One quick way to improve your business is to eliminate any and all barriers.
What barriers to doing business have you found on your travels through the world? Tell us about them. How about in your own marketing efforts – have you discovered any barriers there? Share about it in comments.