It's All in Your Approach - A Rant
Human connection is vital to making a sale. I've talked about this over and over again. But you know where else it matters? When you approach someone you're hoping to hire.
Your approach is everything. And if I may be so bold as to quote Ms. Hill, "Respect is just the minimum." So, when someone contacts me with, "Hi my name is ______. I need a copywriter. How much do you charge?" It's really, really tempting to ignore or delete.
Because whether you're hoping to hire a copywriter, designer, developer, editor or freelancer of any sort...that approach? Doesn't even qualify as respectful.
My husband attempted to play devil's advocate (poor guy, he should've known better) and pointed out that they might be trying to save both you and them time by getting straight to the point. That way if they can't afford you they won't waste their time talking to you.
My rebuttal: They STILL could've said it in a way that's respectful, human and thoughtful. A way that communicated they were cash-strapped and elicited my empathy.
The problem with "Hi my name is_____. I need a copywriter (designer, developer, etc.). How much do you charge? Is that it makes me feel like a commodity, like you're shopping around for the best deal on toilet paper or toothpaste and don't much care what you walk away with.
If all you're interested in getting is the lowest price then I invited you to check out Elance or any number of other similar sites where you'll find masses of people racing to the bottom, the lowest price, or the shortest turnaround. If you want $20 for a page of copy you'll get exactly the VALUE of what you pay for.
If you're lucky you'll find someone for whom English is a first language. If you're really really lucky they might know a thing or two about persuasive writing techniques, SEO and consumer psychology. But more often than not you'll end up with a generic page of writing that won't convert well.
Your potential clients or customers will land on your page, immediately lose interest and click the hell out of there as fast as possible. And as long as you don't take into account your lost revenue you're only out $20.
You can read a buyer beware article on Fiverr here (not written by me). It seems when we encourage people to treat themselves as commodities they don't much care about the quality of work they produce either.
So what's the professional way to respond to one of these less-than-perfect enquiries? Well, you do exactly the thing they didn't. You act like an interested, caring human. Ask them to tell you about their business, the project they have in mind etc. (because I can't just pull a number out of thin air based on your name sweetheart). The caring human approach puts in the effort of building rapport. It requires patience, persistence and hand-holding. It's the way you probably should go.
If you happen to have packages and prices displayed on your website (as I do) then you do have somewhere to direct inquiries. Though you might want to send them to your homepage or sales page first so they have the benefit of getting excited about your services. Or not, if you'd rather not work with them, send them straight to the price, you'll have answered their question at least.
But every once and a while, to be completely honest, I just want to quote some obscenely high price (completely picked out of thin air) so they'll politely piss off. Perhaps something to the effect of: "In the absence of any other information all projects for people with the name of ______ will be going for the low price of $8000 today."
To be clear, I've never ACTUALLY sent that message. Only in my snarkiest dreams.
Choosing someone to help you with your business is the ultimate trust exercise. You've poured your unique creativity, your caffeine-fueled vision, your sleepless nights and sheer determination into getting it off the ground. You carry with you all the triumphs and face-plants that come with entrepreneurship.
Those people who you hire to help you with your business should be your trusted allies. They're the people you invited behind the scenes where things aren't perfect and polished like they are when presented to the public. They see you without your makeup on. Unfinished ideas and half-baked plans.
It only makes sense to hire a professional who sees their work as more than just a commodity. And it only makes sense to approach that person with respect, warmth and the same kind of consideration you'd give to your clients.