What Do Clients Think of You?

“That’s one thing I hate about email — you can’t hear how I’m saying it.”

Ever taken something someone wrote in an email the wrong way, and then gotten that response from them?

I’ve been on both ends …

I’ve misinterpreted what someone meant, as well as been misunderstood. And while our friends and loved ones will often give us a “pass” when it happens — clients will not.

What’s more, they won’t even tell you if they think you sound like a total <insert any negative word you want here>.

Because if, from your email, they’ve decided they don’t like you, or that you may be hard to work with, you’re toast. The email gets deleted, and the next time you try and get in touch, you’ll be lucky if they even open the email, let alone read what you have to say.

I’m not saying you personally have anything to worry about …

But like I said, I’ve been misunderstood in emails. And I don’t want that to happen to you when writing to clients. So today, I’m going to share some candid information with you to ensure it doesn’t.

Now, I’ve been in the industry for 15 years …

And in my work-lifetime, email has always been the primary method of communication. Yet it’s only been in the last few years where I often find myself shocked at how people come across over email.

The most shocking is when someone wants something from me …

Whether it’s a referral, to give them an opinion on something they’re working on, to buy something they’re selling, or land me as a client …

I often ask myself, “Does this person have any idea how he/she sounds?”

The worst, though, is when a freelancer asks for my input on why a client isn’t responding to them. And when I read their email, it’s blatantly obvious to me …

The client is probably sending the message to the trash folder, simply because of the way the email “sounds.”

It’s unfortunate because it’s so easy to fix!

Yet some of the most talented freelancers are poor communicators over email. And that’s the reason why they’re not advancing in their career as fast as they’d like.

So how do you know if you’re guilty?

First, try reading your emails out loud before sending.

The key here is to not use any inflections or force a tone when reading them. You won’t be there to read it out loud when the recipient opens it, so they won’t be able to hear your tone anyways.

When reading, look for places that you feel could be misinterpreted if read in a tone other than the one you intended. Then revise the problem areas.

Next, try having someone else read your emails.

When I need to write a strong email, Katie Yeakle and my husband are both called in to give me their two cents on how I’m coming across.

I simply don’t trust email to mask my frustrations or stress, and know they’ll be brutally honest when I ask them to be.

Finally, have someone else read your emails … out loud.

This is a good way for you to hear how other people may be interpreting what you have to say. Because when someone else reads your email out loud, she’ll put in the tones and inflections she feels are appropriate, based on your words.

And remember, if in doubt, don’t hit the Send button. Save your email as a draft or walk away for a few minutes, and then see how it looks when you read it again with fresh eyes.

In the end, the goal is to start and continue a relationship with your clients. And oftentimes, that relationship will be over email. You want to come across professional, and at the same time, be someone they want to work with.

I’ll be honest with you …

I’ve turned many copywriters away simply because of how they communicate with me. And on the flip side, I’ve awarded projects to writers who weren’t quite as talented as their competitors, simply because I felt like I’d enjoy working with them more.

It’s that important.

So even if you “think” you come across professionally in your follow-ups — and really, in all communications you write — spend some time making sure. You wouldn’t want to lose a client over something so easy to fix.

And with that final piece of direction, you’re 100% ready to follow-up with all potential and past clients, and get them to take action on the project you want.

This week, we’ve covered the reasons why clients may not be responding, you’ve learned how to identify the type of relationship you have with each client, we’ve reviewed best practices for writing follow-up emails, I gave you six ideas to create value when you follow-up, and we addressed the importance of how you come across. (If you missed any of these topics, you can access them here.)

Now go on out there and follow-up with that client who hasn’t responded. Maybe you can push them into taking action by Monday!

And remember, if a client isn’t responding, it may not have anything to do with your ability, so don’t second-guess yourself just yet. Properly follow-up, and see if you can get that project moving. You’re in the driver’s seat!

Have a wonderful weekend, and if you have any questions or comments for me about this week’s series, please post them below.

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Published: March 30, 2012

6 Responses to “What Do Clients Think of You?”

  1. Thanks Rebecca, your points are on target. And if I may offer an extension of your last point - if someone writes an email when they are upset with the recipient, before they hit "Send", they should sleep on it - literally. It's amazing how much worse an "upset" email sounds the next day - and how glad one might be that they didn't send it while they were upset.

    Jim Lawrence

  2. Rebecca, this series was gold! Your emails have been passed back and forth in the COS Rosa Group, just to make sure everyone has seen them. That's because they get right to the heart of what many of us are dealing with right now. Thanks!

    Guest (Faith Attaguile)

  3. Dear Rebecca-I completely agree with you, and I always try to edit every email, post, or anything I write so that my best and most professional self comes through. I haven't yet published any work, but when I do, I want to make sure I've already established a good relationship/reputation with others in the copywriting industry.

    Guest (Lynda)

  4. Dear Rebecca, I agree with everyone here, you have provided some great advice. Thinking before hitting send is so important. What you say to someone is permanent especially when it is in writing. My mother whenever, she wanted to communicate a "strong opinion" to someone would write it in a letter then mail it to herself first. The postal service gave her time to cool down and reflect.

    Guest (Charlie)

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