How to Talk to Clients When You’re Terrified of the Telephone
Have phone phobia? Get this introvert’s guide on how to talk to clients WITHOUT spending tons of time on the telephone. (Yes, it can be done!)
Telephone Phobia: It’s a Real Thing
Does your heart race when the phone rings? Do you put off returning calls until an embarrassing amount of time has passed?
If you said yes, you’re not alone. Psychology Today recognizes telephone phobia as an expression of social anxiety, and mental health experts recommend “exposure and practice” as the first steps toward conquering a fear of the phone. But opportunities for exposure and practice are limited, with phone calls becoming less common than emails, texts, and social media DMs.
Can a Phone-Phobic Photographer have a Successful Business?
The great news is that you don’t have to be a phone call fanatic to build a thriving photography business. There are some simple ways to work around your telephone phobia – and even overcome it. We’ll show you how smart alternatives and easy phone scripts lead to increased sales and stronger relationships.
“While on the phone, use a pen and paper to jot down important things – names, details, times, dates, etc. Remembering people’s names, especially, will endear you to your client.” – Gretchen Willis Photography
Phone Calls = Better Bookings
California photographers The Youngrens have grown multiple successful photography brands by getting interested clients on the phone.
“When you get on the phone, your chances of a successful booking go through the roof!” says Erin Youngren. “It’s incredible! I’m an introvert who really hates the phone, but because it was SO effective for our business, I figured out how to work with that fear. Today, we do nearly all of our inquiry and bookings over the phone.”
PRO TIP: Get The Youngrens’ Four Tips to Turn Inquiries Into Bookings
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“[I learned] that my booking rate was over 80% when I got someone on the phone, [but only] 20% via email!” – Mike Glatzer
How to Talk to Clients: Scripts & Prompts
Before you dive into the deep waters of exposure and practice, prepare yourself with a series of phone scripts and conversation prompts. You can rehearse these bits of dialogue when you’re alone, then refer to them when you’re on an actual client call.
“If you get asked a question you don’t have an answer to, never be afraid to say, ‘let me think on that and get back to you,’ or, ‘could I think about that and email the info in a little while?’ ” – Elyse Rowland Photography
#1: Create Your Q&A Scripts
Begin by listing your most common client questions. We suggest starting here:
- “How much do you charge?”
- “How do I book you?”
- “What can I expect?”
“Clients started saying that they hired us because I actually answered their questions well and sounded like I knew what I was doing! Thank you, scripts!” – Erin Youngren, The Youngrens
“How much do you charge?”
SCRIPT: My collections begin at $______ for [describe package contents.] Most of my clients choose to book my [package name] collection, which includes [describe package contents] for $______. Right now I’m offering a new client special for __% off all [season/month/type] bookings, so I’d love to hear what you’re looking for!
PRO TIP: Make Discounts Possible
Once you know your numbers, build out a pricing structure that allows you to offer discounts at any time. Discounts should never cause you to lose money, but that means charging enough that you can afford to offer special deals.
“How do I book you?”
SCRIPT: Great! Let’s find a time on our calendars that works for you, then I’ll send you a contract to review and sign. You’ll also be prompted to pay a [dollar amount or percentage] retainer payment, which secures your session with me and applies toward your final balance.
“What can I expect?”
SCRIPT: After we’ve finalized your booking, I’ll email you a Welcome Packet that includes my What to Wear guide, my top session tips, and an outline of your specific package details. After your session, I’ll share a sneak peak of a few of my favorite images within 48 hours, then all of your photographs will be ready for you to see within two weeks. You’ll see your photos online through your private, personalized gallery, where you’ll be able to mark your Favorites, order prints and albums, and share the photos with your friends and family.
Customize Your Call Scripts
The simple scripts above tackle some of the most common questions and answers you’ll want to prepare. But you should customize all of your client communication with your unique product and services offerings, plus a healthy does of brand personality!
“I try to listen more than I talk – to get involved in their story, not tell them mine.” – Gretchen Willis Photography
How to Talk to Clients with Phone Phobia
It’s not just photographers who face phone phobia! Clients can dislike talking on the phone, too! Here’s how to establish a healthy client relationship without demanding a phone call.
#1: Get Face-to-Face
Whenever possible, face-to-face communication should be your go-to. In-person communication allows you and your clients to see one another’s facial expressions and body language, which helps maintain clarity when you’re discussing details such as pricing and package contents.
Face-to-face doesn’t have to mean a true in-person, sit-down conversation, however. Video calls also count! Facetime, Skype, Zoom, and GoToMeeting are all great solutions for creating a face-to-face vibe.
“I [offer] video consultations, and I have a 98% [booking] rate with couples who do that!” – Corrina Tough Photography
#2: Turn to Texting
If a prospective client simply refuses a phone call, texting may be the next best thing. Once conversations turns toward booking, however, ask if you can schedule a 10-minute get-to-know-each-other video chat. Ironically, most clients who shy away from phone calls are willing to talk via video!
“Don’t feel pressured to book [a prospective client] on the spot. The point is to set up a convenient time to talk or meet later. That’s the next step, and the only thing you should be worrying about.” – Erin Youngren, The Youngrens
#3: Email Away!
Email can be incredibly impersonal. But with the right punctuation and thoughtful sentence structure, you can impart loads of information via email – and even secure a booking. Email is excellent for keeping critical details in writing, and makes it simple to share links to everything from Pinterest boards to contracts.
Be sure to at least ask for a phone or video chat, however. If your client thinks you don’t want to talk on the phone, it’s unlikely that they’ll push the matter – and you could lose the booking as a result.
“A client saying no doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me or my business. I’m just not the best fit for that client right now.” – Mike Glatzer
How to Talk to Clients: Share Your Tips!
When you’re uncertain, follow your client’s lead. If someone emails you, email them back. If they call, call them back. And if you need to navigate an Instagram message off of Instagram and into the real world, communicate clearly with the inquirer what the next steps should be if they want to talk further.
Kindness and clarity are always the right move!
Have you overcome phone phobia?
Are you creating great conversations with clients who are phone phobic?
Write your tips in the comments below!
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