Friday, November 6, 2009

Persistence vs. pestilence

Recently I was talking with a freelance writer/editor who quoted a stat that made me cringe. She'd been to a seminar where the speaker had declared something to the effect that, on average, it takes 7 follow-up contacts with a prospective client before they'll do business with you.

Not only do I call B.S. and question how the heck this seminar swami derived the magic number, I'd suggest that type of approach is hazardous to a freelancer's business.
  • My professional experience is that, after one or two calls, a prospect is either in or out. I need to use my judgment on how close I am to a "yes" and if and when a follow-up is appropriate.
  • My experience as a prospect is that, if someone calls me that many times, I am going to get irritated. You don't have permission to do that, even if I expressed initial interest.
  • Rather than trotting back to the same "maybe" target repeatedly, you're likely better served to devote your energies to finding new prospects elsewhere. Contact enough of them, and you'll undoubtedly find a few that are happy-to-talk-to-you, one-call deals.


  1. What's compounding the problem is that people are desperate right now. Can't get blood from a stone, though, no matter how many times you call or email it.

  2. Anon, the other issue is that many of the stones don't even have as much blood in them as they used to. Hence my advice that you might do better by moving on. Don't let hope triumph over experience, eh.

  3. I agree. After a couple of follow-up calls, move on in order to avoid appearing desperate. The potential client needs to feel that you are sufficiently busy in order to feel a certain level of trust toward you. If you call more than two or three times to follow up, the message you're screaming is, "hey, I need work! No one else is hiring me!"

  4. Anon@11:29, that's an excellent point--thanks for commenting.