What Your Client Doesn’t Need to Know


My voice over coaching students often ask me: At what point can they start calling themselves a pro? I could give a long answer to that short question, but here’s a hint:

You’re a pro as soon you start acting like one!

Even when your coach believes you’re ready for the Big Leagues, you could still come across as an amateur. One of the biggest signals of amateur standing is when you disclose information clients don’t need to know, or don’t care about.

Here’s the top thing your clients don’t want to hear...

1. “Please bear with me. I’m new at this.”

In our business, there’s no on-the-job learning. Never sign up for something you cannot handle. If you’ve auditioned for a job and were selected, the client assumes that you are qualified to do that job. Playing the newbie card won’t gain you sympathy, won’t get you leeway or anything like that. It will simply undermine the client’s trust.

Professionals are competent and confident. Their equipment (both vocal and technical) is reliable and they’re able to produce studio quality audio. Pros don’t make excuses. They don’t need to.

Running a close second among topics to avoid is...

2. Personal problems.

Life can be tough, unpredictable and stressful. Being self-employed is both an escape from such stress and a cause of it. On the upside, a freelancer is always in the driver’s seat, and with practice you can hold many plates in the air at the same time. If the load become troublesome, don’t burden your clients with your problem. The same holds true if you are going through a rough time as a parent or partner. Whatever Life throws at you, leave your troubles at the studio door and get to work.

As you and a client become more familiar with each other, it may seem that you have some liberty in this regard. That may be. But even with an understanding and supportive client, it’s better if you don’t take that liberty. Remember that it’s still a professional relationship, and its success has been due in part to the professional way in which you grew it. You don’t expect to hear about personal problems from your dentist, doctor and airline pilots, do you? Some things are better left unvoiced.

Here’s another part of your business that has no bearing on your client’s business...

3. Your cost of doing business.

When you buy a pair of shoes, do you care about how much rent the shoe store pays the mall? When you go out to dinner, do you dicker with the waiter over the price of ingredients? Does a merchant complain about the fee they pay the credit card company? (Actually, yes, some merchants do add the fee – and don’t you just hate that?)

Your clients expect you to build your business costs into your charges. As a professional, you must know your expenses and cover them. Clients assume this. There is no need to tell them, nor to make excuses for your rates.

Don’t think you need to justify your rate by summing up how much you’ve sacrificed and invested. An experienced client doesn’t consider it relevant, because it’s true of everyone. And if a prospective client is new at hiring talent and says “That much for 2 minutes’ work??!!,” well, yes, you should have a good, short, valid reply already rehearsed. But don’t get into details (the client won’t relate to them), and usually in these cases you might as well save your energy for another client.

If you’re concerned that your competitors are charging less, trust that the real competitors are also covering their expenses, or they won’t be competing for very long.

Here’s something else your clients aren’t interested in...

4. The things you’ve done for other companies.

An impressive portfolio of past work tells a client what you’ve done for someone else. You may believe that says enough. But all the client is thinking is: What can you do for me, right now?

The past, no matter how glorious, doesn’t entitle you to anything. It’s why A-list actors still have to audition for roles, even when these celebrities have proven their capabilities. At every audition, you need to make a new value proposition and convince the client that you’re the one and only answer to his or her question.

Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10, you are not. That brings me to the last thing a client couldn’t care less about...

5. Your ego.

Clients are not your friends. That may seem arguable, because after time in almost any business, some provider/client relationships may become very friendly. But, even if the client is your next door neighbor, they are still running a business, and that business is their first responsibility.

To most clients, you’re just another voice with a price tag. And as a pro, you know to refrain from behavior like temper tantrums, obstinacy, sulking, and self-serving inquiries. (Consider the client’s point of view – how’d you like to answer 300 inquiries per job as to why people didn’t get the gig?)

You should also refrain from disappointment, disillusionment and just plain “dissing” yourself. As a pro, you know that you’ve chosen a career without guarantees.

You’re not worthless as a human being just because the producer preferred another voice. As long as you did your best, you’re right to hold your head up high, press on confidently, and move along with your well-considered game plan.

Just don’t tell the client about it.

Paul Strikwerda is Edge Studio's International Marketing Expert. To schedule with Paul, call 888-321-3343
or email training@edgestudio.com

An alternative answer...kind of !

I think if you are a professional you know inside already, glad to hear the very uplifting piece (to newbies) about past work doesn't count for as much as you would think it would. Naturally past experience does count for something, as first things first it will give the client the security of knowing you have done this before - but agreed in an audition scenario, it matters not.
Common sense, logic, intelligence and wisdom will answer any question as to when am I ready ?

I'm ready and am a talented character actor who is seeking to enter the voiceover world; adverts, cartoons, video game characters - the lot ! I'm simply reading and learning and experimenting - firstly with the software, slowly slowly towards accomplishing a professional demo - I acted at school but after that, not for 30 years and then starred in a pantomime as the lead villian - I've since been in the last 5 productions in a row - with large roles. I allways knew I was an actor, its just so natural to character act, but I'm blessed that it's natural. I'm waffling now so will sign off ! Good piece - does anyone know the best way forward for an English Actor resident in Denmark to break into character acting voiceover work ? Any tips etc !?

BRAVO!!!

Well said. Excuses are not reasons and therefore are not reasonable. I have been so guilty of poor-mouthing myself and my abilities - when, in fact, they are gifts for which I should show my thankfulness and appreciation and use well to honor The One who gave them to me, continuing to work to maintain and use them to the best of my own ability.
Thanks, Paul, for being direct and inspiring.

TMI

Excellent article! (Well, yes, it could've used one more read-through to catch the phrase "professional way in which your grew it", but the content is well put.) The take-away: Your problems should not affect a client's business. Other than suicide counselor, every job in the corporate world holds that expectation. Thanks, Paul.

Keep It To Yourself!

Paul, another well thought out and well-written piece. We are business owners. Every decision you make affects your bottom line and your relationship with your clients. Is it time to raise your rates? How do you tell your clients? NEVER say you're sorry! Does the bank say it's sorry when it ups your bank fees? How about your credit card company? How are you any different? And that's just one example. Paul has put it quite succinctly. Act like a pro, because you are one. And in the end, how you interact with your clients reflects on the entire industry.

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