One simple question that makes clients answer my pitch emails

freelance writing pitch emails

Pitching for business can be a pretty draining exercise. It’s the kind of thing you only really get a grip on over time – in the meantime, you can be sending out tens, even hundreds, of emails and getting very little in the way of a response.

So what can you do? Well, there’s one simple question I’ve found that improves my response rates no end, no matter which sector I’m pitching in:

Can we arrange a quick chat over the phone?

Deceptively easy, but it works like a charm.

In a world where online communication like emails and social media reign supreme, a phone-call is a step out of the box. It’s confident. It’s pro-active. It shows real interest.

Let’s dissect it:

“Can we…?”

You and me, buddy! We’re friends, right? The use of ‘we’ is a lovely little bit of linguistic woo that sends subliminal goodies out to the person you’re talking to. It tells them that there’s a relationship there.

“Can” – a direct question. Far more powerful than typically self-effacing British work-arounds like “It’d be great if…” or “Would you…?”

“Can we” requires an answer. It says that this is something you want and are ready to move forward with.


I’m busy, you’re busy – I know you’re not sitting there counting lentils, and I’m pretty busy (read: in demand!) so let’s check our respective diaries.

Asking someone if you can arrange something with them shows respect for their time and their busy-ness without backing off with conditionals (“Could we…?”) or cop-out additions such as, “if you’ve got time”.

“A quick chat”

It’s a quickie! What have they got to lose? You understand that their time is precious; so is yours (again, in demand!). What you have to say is simple – you’re not going to bend their ear for an hour about all your various services, and they don’t have to get into anything deep. You’re going to be clear, concise and quick. Who wouldn’t want that?

Plus, it’s a chat. Just a chat! It’s not a discussion, or a pitch, or a conversation; it’s friendly. It’s a chat. It’s the kind of thing they can relax and enjoy. With you!

“Over the phone”

The bit so many of you have been dreading – actual talking! To actual people!

Honestly, once you get over your phone fear (and you do need to get over it), your life will be 1) much easier and 2) much more business-friendly.

Despite many freelancers’ hatred of phone-calls, “Over the phone” actually has a nice casual touch to it. You don’t want to wang a load of stuff over to someone in an email. This isn’t a formal thing – it’s a chat, remember?

The phone allows for human contact in a way that emails and even social media don’t. You get a voice. You get small talk. You can even have a little laugh and a joke; ask someone about their day or what they’re working on – those are the kinds of friendly openers that don’t work so well in writing.

Phone-calls are professional. They’re confident, friendly, pro-active and immediate. You say what you have to say, you listen to what the other person has to say, and you both draw conclusions from that. Do they think you might be a useful person to have around? Would they like to know more about your blogging services? Do they want to hang on to your details until that big project in the autumn?

Phone-calls end with some kind of result, even if it’s not the one you were hoping for. They don’t drag out, and they allow for quick, clear communication on both sides – always a good thing.

A quick way to improve your freelance writing pitches

So there we are – next time you’re sending out a batch of pitch emails to prospective clients, invite them for a quick chat over the phone. They won’t always be up for it but, in my experience, the pro-active, confident nature of the approach wins big points.

And remember, if you hook someone into replying but they’re not ready for a call, don’t let them go – connect on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, and make a note to check in with them a couple of months down the line.

Take this pro-active approach to pitching, and you’ll be surprised at the responses you get.

Have you tried this approach in your cold emails? How did it work for you? Have you got another secret formula to share? Chat below or @LorrieHartshorn 🙂

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