Do you answer your phone?

Do you spend an hour on the phone with a random caller?

I don’t because I have a client onboarding process and I don’t like wasting time.

Just today

Today I got an email that went something like this.

I’m looking for someone to setup an eCommerce site on WordPress for me. I’m only selling a few products. Are you available?

I replied with my normal email that asks a bunch of questions about why they need a site, why is it the most important thing to build, what is the timeframe and what is the budget.

You know things that help me decide if the client is actually a client I want to engage with.

Then they called.

Faced with a dilemma

When a brand new client calls you and says that they have a dilemma. Do you spend time on the phone with them?

Will it be a total waste of time?

Do they really have the money to pay you for that call, heck how about the money to purchase your services to build out their solution?

With simply the email above you have no idea.

Politely say no

Yup the headline gave it away, I politely ask for a response to the email.

See I book all my time and all my calls. Booking them out means that I can really put in some focus to the call and to the questions I need answered.

I book out at least 15 minutes (30 if I can) before each call to make sure that I’m fully prepped for the client and ready to deal with their project.

Today I said:

Thanks for the call, but really I’m busy right now. Send over a response to that email and then if it’s a good fit I’ll setup a call for us.

That email

Can you guess what the response was?

Well the time frames didn’t match and the budgets didn’t match. So spending 15 minutes on the phone talking about the idea would have been more time put in to a client that didn’t have the time or budget to get in to my ‘ideal client’ pipeline.

Here’s what I sent back:

Hey $client, thanks for the answers.

Currently my time frame isn’t going to match your time frame. I’m booked till mid-October already.

We’re also out of alignment on prices. Setting up an eCommerce store with an existing theme and installing existing plugins (so nothing custom at all) starts at $6000. The plugins and security stuff you likely need probably cost around 500 – 600 out of the gate. So the $1000 you have simply doesn’t match with the requirements to set up a store properly.

I’m really sorry I can’t help currently. If our time frames and budgets come in to better alignment in the future I’d love to hear from you.

Good luck with your project and have an awesome day.

That email above is basically a template I have to politely say no. My total time spent was less time than it took me to write the first draft of this post.

Actually, probably half the time it took me to write the first draft of this post.

Don’t get on the phone without a plan

Yeah that’s right, don’t get on the phone with a possible client without a plan.

Don’t spend waste time until you’ve at least put them through the first part of your client vetting process. Make sure it’s a project you’re at least partially interested in, that may have the budget you feel it needs to do the job properly.

You’ve got better things to do and possible clients don’t care about wasting your time.

If you’d like to know more about my client on-boarding process or have other questions you’d like answered then get in touch to ask about my mentoring options or get some of my time on

photo credit: simondee cc

3 responses to “Don’t take that phone call with the client”

  1. Carla DeLauder Avatar

    I found your blog post via Carrie Dil’s retweet.

    I’m launching a web development and content strategy business. Phone calls are not productive for me. They restrict me too much with all those social rules of engagement and personality quirks from the caller.

    Recently I came across a website designer who states very clearly in her FAQ section that she rarely engages with clients by phone. She finds that time to be very counterproductive. It was insightful, because I just assumed (and dreaded) phone time was expected.

    So I’ve decided to address this upfront. If a client communicates best through phone calls and in-person meetings, I’m probably not the best option for them. As a new developer, I welcome the income. But I also need to preserve my sanity and take care not to give away more of myself than makes sense for who I am.

    Thanks for this blog post!

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      I think that to really dig in to the value you provide to clients (and thus price based on value) that you do need to get in a call with them.

      I recently got a complete technical brief that I could have estimated off of fine, but since my client vetting process always includes a phone call I did the call.

      During the call I heard so much frustration in areas not covered by the brief that I included them in the estimate (and charged lots for them).

      I would have left 30% of my profit on the table without a call. I don’t know about you, but my bank account isn’t full yet.

      1. Carla DeLauder Avatar

        I do see value in making client phone calls. But for me I need to make sure my business doesn’t depend on them. Some situations are more helpful to me when I relay feedback via a phone call. But the focus has to be on how it makes me feel, not my clients.

        The reason is probably more specific and personal than it is for most folks. I am on the autism spectrum. For me, personally, I was relieved to discover that others have similar concerns, and yet they seem satisfied with their income as it is.