Monday, November 28, 2005

Confusion

How odd. I may have just lost a potential customer for my freelance business due to sounding like a goober on the phone. Or, if it wasn't my inept phone manner, it may have been my inability to take a credit card payment except through PayPal. (Or maybe they'll be calling me back later; I don't know.) But what happened was, my cell phone rang with an unfamiliar number and area code (which I later looked up and found out was near Chicago). I picked up, and a male voice asked me if I was Sarah J. Stevenson, and if I take credit card payments.

In my total surprise--never having had to field such a phone call before for my own business, which only technically became a licensed City of Modesto business last month--I intelligently answered, "For what?"

"For your business," he replied, fortunately not sounding like he thought I was insane or slow. Still caught off guard, I responded with the first thing that popped into my head, which was "No, we're not set up to take credit cards, but we do accept PayPal." To which he replied, "Okay, thank you." That was the end of the call.

What terrible salesmanship. After hanging up I realized I should have inquired more about the purpose of his call--what sort of job would he (or his boss) be wanting me to do? Is this writing- or editing-related? Art- or design-related? I could be far less mystified at this moment if I'd just thought to ask a question or two and introduce myself like a normal businessperson. And then, when I looked up the area code and found it was in Illinois, I kept thinking, how is somebody in Illinois interested in my random little freelance business? How did they find my information? Did they just randomly look me up online? And then I thought, how did they get my cell phone number? I have business cards I hand out on occasion, but they have a land line number. Even if they got my card from someone, it wouldn't have my cell number on it, unless it was somebody I know. This is another crucial question I could have asked--how did you find out about my business? So that's very strange.

This was followed only moments later by a phone call on my land line from Ceres Karate, which I've done calligraphy on certificates for about once or twice a year for the past couple of years. I asked the guy if it was him who just called me asking about credit cards--this was before I looked up the area code--and of course he said no. So, two business-related phone calls today. Unfortunately the calligraphy money will be rather piddly, as he only needs names and belt rankings filled in on 3 certificates. However, they have a history of paying me more than I charge them, which is awfully nice of them. I might push some marketing collateral (translation: a brochure) on Sanjay this time, and hope he knows some other random karate studios who might want a calligrapher or designer or something. That means I probably should make a new brochure, as my current one is sort of lame. Must...not...procrastinate...on...NaNoWriMo... But I did set a more realistic goal of 37,000 words, bearing in mind that I did not start writing until a week into the month.

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