Are you easy to do business with?
Recently, I read an article by David A. Fields. He’s a consultant to consultants — that is, he helps consultants build their businesses. And he’s also a consultant himself in a completely different area.
In the article, he was talking about this idea of being easy to do business with. One of the things he’s noticed is that consultants who are easy to do business with get more clients — even if they aren’t as good as their competition.
He sees consultants that are top experts in their field struggle to get clients because they aren’t easy to do business with. I found that observation fascinating.
I started thinking about my own business. And you know what? If I look at my career as a copywriter, I’ve come to realize I’m not the best writer on the planet. I don’t know all the best copywriting strategies. I haven’t written dozens of controls.
I’m not the best-known expert by any means. But one thing that has been key to my success in getting and keeping clients is I’m really easy to do business with. Ultimately, it’s what B2B copywriting prospects and clients want — someone who makes their job easier.
So let me give you seven strategies on how to be the kind of B2B copywriter or writer who is easy to do business with.
Your Freelance Website
Is your business phone number on your website? What about your email address? Are they clickable so someone on a mobile device can easily contact you?
Is your physical address on the site? Many prospects want to know where you are located in the world. It also gives them reassurance you are a legitimate business.
I remember looking for a graphic designer for a project. I found a website and looked for the designer’s contact information. After searching in vain, I finally found the contact page. The page had a form you had to fill out and submit. No email address. No phone number. Just the form.
I did submit the form but had no idea if she would ever even see it. And I thought, if I’m working with her on a project, is she going to be this difficult to reach?
The description of your services matters too. Do you have a clear description of your services on your website? When prospects go to your website, will they be able to understand how you can help them?
Don’t be the aloof, hard-to-reach guru. That’s a real sore spot for me. I hate it when I’m trying to contact someone and I can’t reach them directly. It drives me crazy to have to go through multiple levels in order to get a message to someone.
I understand the need to have some uninterrupted time. But if you’re difficult to contact to make yourself seem like more of an expert, it can backfire on you.
I speak to a lot of clients and a lot of prospective clients. And they always tell me they like being able to deal with someone directly.
So don’t be that aloof expert. Instead, be the friendly, approachable expert, someone a potential client can pick up the phone and reach quickly and easily.
One of my favorite marketing consultants, Dianna Huff, tells prospective clients they can pick up the phone and call her. Her number and office hours are on her website so prospects know how and when they can reach her.
Another tip is to be flexible when it comes to meetings. When a prospect or a client contacts you and they have a project in mind, don’t be that person who says, “Well, okay, my next slot for a meeting is two weeks from now.”
For goodness sakes, be very flexible when it comes to meeting with them. I always try to get a meeting with a prospect that very day. I said, “Well, we can talk about the project right now, Mr. Client.” Or “Let’s talk this afternoon at 3:30.” After all, they’re calling you because they have a project on the front burner right now.
So I’m very flexible when it comes to meetings. I’m willing to meet with a client just about any time on very short notice. I don’t make them wait a week or two weeks unless I’m out of town or truly unavailable for some reason.
Once, I was trying to set up a meeting with a social media expert. Instead of calling or emailing them, you had to go to this special online calendar and find an appointment time to even ask him a quick question. It was ridiculous. I didn’t even bother. You want to be the kind of person who’s flexible when it comes to scheduling meetings.
One of the things I do is that I always ballpark my price on the phone with a new prospect or clients. When someone calls me and they have a project in mind, I’ll always give them an estimated price or price range.
It’s helpful in many ways, but one thing it does is make me easy to do business with. They know approximately what price I’m going to charge for the project. Clients appreciate it when I’m upfront about the potential cost.
For long-term clients who I know and trust well, I have what I call a “phone and go policy.”
In other words, all a client has to do is pick up the phone, call me, and say, “Steve, we’re redoing our website. We want you to write it. Can you get started?”
I’ll say, “Yes, I’ll get started. Here’s a ballpark price.” And I’ll start the work right away.
They don’t have to sign a contract. I’ll just do the work and invoice them at the end of the quarter.
They don’t have to worry about getting a formal quote from me, having to sign it, and send it back. If they’re ongoing trusted clients, they just have to pick up the phone and I’ll get started.
Here’s another tip that makes you easy to do business with. Get back to prospects and clients quickly. Get back to them quickly when they phone, when they email, when they have a question, and when they have an inquiry. Don’t make them wait.
I have a policy of getting back to active clients right away, wherever I am. And frankly, I do it even if it’s in the evening or on weekends.
Answering an email on a Saturday doesn’t mean I work during the weekend. Clients don’t typically contact me evenings or weekends. But when they do, I respond to them that day.
Now, I might have to say, “I can get to this when I get back to the office on Monday.” But I don’t ignore their emails.
Another tip is don’t be aggressive when it comes to following up on invoices. I know there are some of you out there who will strongly disagree with me on this one. But just hear me out.
When I send an invoice to a client, I realize it can take anywhere from 15 to 60 days to get paid. The average is about 30 to 45 days to get paid on an invoice and I accept that as the norm.
If I’m working with a trusted client, the time frame doesn’t bother me at all. At about the 45-day point, I do send a message, a friendly reminder, that the invoice is outstanding but that’s it.
I’ve seen freelancers who are so aggressive when it comes to following up on invoices that they start following up a week later wanting to know where their check is. It’s a big mistake because clients don’t want to work with freelancers with that type of attitude.
It might be a natural reaction if you’ve been ripped off by a past client. Instead of being aggressive, focus on doing business with higher quality clients who will treat you with respect.
Save your aggression until an invoice is outstanding for 60 days or more and you get a sense the client is going to try to stiff you.
If that’s the case, then yes, you have every right to become aggressive and get your money. But before then, just realize that it can take 15 to 60 days to get paid for from some companies.
A final tip is to not charge current ongoing clients for short strategy sessions. If a client contacts me and wants to brainstorm a new marketing campaign or work through a marketing problem, I don’t charge them for my time.
As long as it’s no more than an hour and we can do it on the phone, then I’m glad to do it. In fact, I want clients to contact me and discuss strategy with me. There are two important reasons why.
First, I’m usually very helpful in these strategy sessions. So, it’s a way to build goodwill with that client.
Second, I get all of the implementation work. We may discuss an email marketing campaign with the landing page and perhaps a white paper. I’ll help the client map out this marketing campaign, how it’s going to work, and what the offer is going to be.
I’ll do that gladly for free with the client because I usually get all of the copywriting work as a result. I get to write all the emails and the white paper and the landing page. So I’m not really strict about charging clients for short strategy sessions.
Test Your Process
So here’s a challenge for you.
First, I want you to put yourself in the shoes of your prospect or client and walk through what it’s like to do business with you.
How does the prospect initially contact you? Can they call you? Can they email you? How quickly do you get them a quotation? Are you on time with your delivery of copy? Do you get back to them quickly?
From the prospect or client’s perspective, what is it like to do business with you? Is it easy or difficult?
Second, ask yourself, “How do I make it easier for prospects and clients to do business with me?”
Because if you can find even small ways to make it easier to hire you, you will have an advantage. And the clients you have will return again and again.