How to Impress a Potential Client before First Contact (part II)

This is part II of my post on how to handle first contact with a potential client.

A quick recap is in order. You’ve just received an email from a potential client. Before you return contact, you need to do some homework first. Sure, you can just call the person back and wing it, but why would you pass up on an opportunity to lay a good foundation. The time to lay it is now, not after you’ve started to raise the walls.

First off, you want to learn:

(1) What does the person’s action history reveal?
(2) What do others say about him? and/or
What does he say about himself?

In the last post, I spent about 20 minutes getting this information. A key ingredient to getting the foundation right is not just info. We’re looking for motivation, intent and follow-through. Those are the kinds of clients I want. If you want a different kind of client, then you’ll be looking for different things. In the course of my research, I will have also taken note of what the person does for a living, at what points I relate most to him and what kind of book I think he might have in mind (assuming he didn’t mention it).

At this point, I’m almost ready to call the potential client.  A thought is forming in my head now as to (3) How I’ll mimic touches of his voice in an email back to him?

Before I answer that, let’s deal with the question that’s likely foremost in your mind: Why would I want to do this?

Because my job as a ghostwriter is to mimic the essence of someone else. Because the sooner I start paying attention to how that person expresses himself, the closer I am to learning what makes him tic. Because the sooner I remind myself that this book he wants to write is not about me, the sooner I get my priorities in order. Because it’s fun. Because I learn about dialog. Because as a ghostwriter who is also a fiction writer, this will teach me about different kinds of voices.

I’m going to handle the next two questions as one thought. (4) How will I mimic touches of the potential client’s writing voice? and How will I do this in a phone call?

In the last post, we used Ed Sweet as an example. Based on what I learned, when I call Ed I will:

  1. Call him “Ed”, not “Edward”.
  2. Mention the review he wrote and ask if he’s still going through it with his friend.
  3. Be clear, concise and compelling.
  4. Be honorable, passionate and personable.

Number 3 and 4 are worth doing all the time, but the key here is to have them at the forefront of my mind in this return call to Ed. This is a good time to mention that even though I’ve been getting to know things about Ed, I don’t really know Ed yet. There’s a big difference between knowing a lot about someone and knowing someone. It’s a subtle difference, but a vital one. One is head. The other is heart.

Okay, so the call’s done. You hang up. You make plans to write a thank you email and to send it later that day or the next morning. I used to do that, too. Then I ran across an idea that has transformed the impression I leave with clients. I mention this “after the call” item in this post on “How to Impress a Potential Client Before First Contact” because in my mind it’s all part of the same return call and the lasting impression you’ll leave if you learn to do this is tremendous.

(5) Video email

In this day and age, you’d think people would be doing this all the time. They’re not. And because they’re not, when you do, you’ll stand out even more so in the mind of your potential client. What I do is record a short, 30-45 second video of me sitting on my back patio, thanking Ed for his time and looking forward to talking with him in the future. It’s a very simple process to make this video. Takes me less than 10 minutes. And because it’s included IN the email (and is less than 2mb), it doesn’t have to be downloaded separately. I don’t have time to give you the play by play on how to do in this post, so I’ll make it the sole feature of my next one.

Before I leave you with an example of a video I sent to a former client and get you excited about learning how to do it yourself, I want you remember why it’s so important to do more than looking into what the person does for a living before you make first contact. You want them to know you do your homework. You want them to know you come prepared. You need to teach yourself these skills. You need to find out what motivates the person. Start looking for that key the instant you’re contacted by a potential client. With the key to what motivates them you can unlock how they will react in any situation.

You also do these things to help prequalify your clients. You want the kind of  clients that meet or exceed your own preparations, research and do what they say attitude. At least, I do. Show them that they’ve found someone they can relate to. Show them First Contact is the same as Middle Contact and Last Contact.

Here’s the video email. It’s a response to someone I’d just met in person for the first time, but it’d be the same if it had been a phone call: Clementine Interuptus

[picture by quinet]