Quick Pop Quiz: What’s wrong with this email?
Hi John, I just wanted to touch base really quick to see if any progress had been made on the proposal I sent you last week? If you get a chance, let me know.
Sadly, I used to send emails like this all the time. I thought I was being nice / polite by doing this. What I’ve come to realize, however, is that this is the business equivalent of being a Nice Guy.
Which is a perfect analogy, as most anyone who interacts with clients using this kind of behavior is likely to end up in the “Client Friend Zone” forever. Why?
Mistake #1 – Weasel Words
Weasel words are useless terms that qualify your statements, or give you a bit of an out for proposing something that may offend someone. So above, we have: just, really quick, if you get a chance.
This is NO different from walking up to a girl and being like:“Hi, um, I hope I’m not bothering you. I just wanted to come introduce myself.”
Once again, I used to do stuff like this all the time. And it never, EVER got a good response.
Think of the clients you’re going after like the attractive woman at a speed dating event. These clients have got the money, which is what YOU as a freelancer want. So just like the attractive woman determines whether you get her number or not, these clients control your access to THEIR money.
And as you know if you’ve ever approached attractive women, most of them have zero patience for men who tiptoe around what they want (aka Nice Guys).
And guess what? With clients, it’s the same exact thing.
Mistake #2 – Subservient Tone
In the above email, there are no demands being made. No requirement the person get back to you anytime soon. Last, there are no real instructions.
In short, the overarching tone of the email is that of subservience. Which is absolute kryptonite when it comes to establishing high status authority positioning.
Mainly because it shows the person who sent the email is taking orders from – and entirely dependent upon – the decisions and timelines of the client. Meaning, they bow down to whatever the client decides.
With that said, let’s take another look at this email with the weasel words -and approval seeking tone – taken out:
Hi John, Following up on our last call, can you please send me a final decision on the proposal by EOD this Wednesday?
On the surface, this email is not dramatically different from the first. But if you look closer, it is MUCH stronger.
First, there are no weasel words. No “just” doing anything. No “could you maybe” do this or that. No “might you be able to.”
Second, we’re sending instructions / asking for a specific response (getting back to us on the final decision).
Third, we are the ones defining the timetable. In particular, instead of saying “at your earliest convenience,” we tell them when we want to hear back by.
Clients LIKE This Kind of Behavior
So while this email may seem like it’s more aggressive – just like a man approaching a woman directly may seem aggressive to an outside observert – high level clients appreciate this kind of behavior. Why?
Because it shows someone who understands business, is confident in themselves, and doesn’t waste their time by tiptoeing around what they REALLY want.
Which is exactly why the really attractive women tend to like super confident men: They don’t tiptoe around the fact they want to date these women. And because of that, a much higher percentage of their approaches are successful.
Assertiveness Pays. Period.
And in freelancing, it’s the same thing: The writers who go after what they want – while maintaining a high status position – are the ones who land the big money projects.
On the flip side, the writers who bow down to the client’s demands tend to end up fighting over scraps.
And make no mistake about it: Despite the analogy I’m using here, this truth applies to women as it does men. Maybe even more.
Fortunately, fixing this doesn’t require any schooling, education, or certification. It simply requires standing up for yourself and asserting your needs.
Which lucky for us, is something we can all do a better job of – for free – at anytime.