It’s your first call with a prospective client and more than anything you want it to go well. These five tips and mindset shifts will ensure both you and your prospective client leave the call with what you need and heading in a good direction.
How do you usually feel before that first phone call or Zoom with a prospective client? If you’re like a lot of business owners, you might feel excited and a little nervous at the same time.
In my experience, the necessary pre-work for a call with a new prospective client is all about two things: doing our homework and getting into the right mindset (and mostly, it’s the latter).
Read on to learn how you can best prepare for calls in the future so you show up feeling calm, confident, and grounded – and leave feeling the exact same way.
Tip #1: Redefine What “Success” Looks Like
It’s not uncommon for new business owners to go into calls with the assumption that “success” would mean the prospect hires them. Seems like a no-brainer, right?
What if it turns out this person needs something you don’t provide? Or what if their work and personality styles are a complete mismatch with yours? When one of these is the case and you move forward with the relationship, you will most likely regret it later on. For our purposes, I’d like to redefine what a successful “first call” looks like:
Success means that if your services and your prospect’s needs are a great fit for one another, you have compatible personalities and work styles, and their budget is aligned with your prices, you’ll continue onto the next step in exploring working together. Success ALSO means that if not all of these prior items are present, you can point this prospect towards a good next step on their journey, be it in the form of a referral, a resource, or an idea.
When you go into a prospective client call with this new definition of success, it just might shift your inner dialogue from “Let me impress this person so they’ll hire me” to “Let me ask the necessary questions to find out if this person and I are a good fit for one another.”
That feels pretty different, doesn’t it?
Tip #2: Do Your Homework
It pays to do your homework on the person you’re speaking with. Not only will it show them you take your client relationships seriously and are a consummate professional – it will also allow you to ask more specific questions, giving you more of what you need to know.
I like to set an alarm for 15-20 minutes before all of my initial phone calls. This way I know I’ll have a little time at my computer before the call to look over their website and LinkedIn profile and jot down any notes or questions. This also gives me time to center myself before the call (more on that later).
Tip #3: Never Leave Someone Empty-Handed
Are there times when I leave a call with a prospective client and we each go our separate ways? Absolutely, and this can happen for a thousand different reasons. Maybe they’re looking for someone who specializes in large-scale eCommerce websites (that’s not me), someone to also take care of their social media (that’s not me), or someone with ultra-cheap prices (that’s not me).
I have a personal rule that’s always served me well (plus it just feels good): to never leave someone empty-handed. If I can recommend a colleague who I believe might be a better fit for their needs, I will. But a “gift” doesn’t always have to be in the form of a referral. Sending the link to a website, book, podcast, or simply shooting them an idea they might not have thought of are all wonderful ways to leave the calling knowing you gave them something of value and they haven’t hit a dead end.
Tip #4: Prepare a Question List
I figured out early on that if I got to the end of a prospective client call and realized I had talked the whole time and my prospect had barely talked at all, that meant it did NOT go well. To remedy this, make sure to ask your prospect lots of questions and get them talking. I like to have a list on hand in case my mind ever goes blank. A few suggestions:
What are you hoping to get out of our call today?
How did you find your way to your current line of work? (in other words, I’d love to hear your story!)
What led you to contact me?
What are your current pain points?
What would success look or feel like for you?
What questions do you have that I can answer?
Tip #5: Center Yourself Before Every Call
What does centering yourself mean? It can look a little different for each person. For some, it can mean just taking two minutes to get quiet and find the breath. For others, it can mean repeating a mantra that grounds you in confidence (i.e. “I am a highly-skilled professional and I will make the choices that are best for me”) or in a place of service (i.e. “I am here to help this person however I can – even if that means we don’t end up working together”). For others (like me), it can mean spending some time reading about your prospect so you feel familiarized with them. See what works for you!
The most important thing is that you build in that transition time, so you aren’t rushing straight from one activity to jumping on the phone. When you’re hurried or stressed, people can hear and feel that. When you build in time to center yourself and get grounded and calm, you can bring more of your best self to that call and be more fully present – and that helps everybody.
Having successful phone calls or Zoom meetings with first-time prospective clients comes down to how you prepare: both literally (doing your research) and in terms of your mindset.
When we grasp on so tightly to a particular outcome (i.e. a person hiring us), it typically befuddles our delivery and leaves us coming across as salesy or shallow. Trust that the two of you will find your way to the best outcome for BOTH of you (whether or not that means you end up working together), and you’ll be in a much better place 🙂
Looking for more?
For more on building client relationship, check out these other quick reads from Janelle (that’s me) at Ellanyze: