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Laura has a problem. She’s a freelance teacher and teaches English as a foreign language in universities and to private business companies. She often receives enquiries for her lessons but when she replies to them, she never hears from them again. Nada. Nix. Not a word.


Not even a courteous ‘thank you’ for the time and effort she put in by asking details on the experience level of the student and his problem areas in the English language. Of course, she’s frustrated and feels she’s wasting her time even bothering to reply. On the other hand, if she doesn’t reply, she has automatically lost a potential paying student.

What should she do?

Why doesn’t the prospective student reply?

How can she decide which email is ‘bona fide’ and which aren’t?

Emails are easy to ignore!

Don’t reply by email. Emails are easy to ignore!

Don’t reply by email. Emails are easy to ignore!

You can’t. If you don’t want to lose a potential new student, you have to answer the enquiry. However…

Don’t reply by email. Emails are easy to ignore! The Delete Key is just a click away. Instead, you need to talk or phone the enquirer in person and ask to meet him face-to-face – to discuss his educational requirements. Do this as soon as you receive the email because the writer can still remember your name and his request. It’s harder to refuse your polite request for a meeting since he was the person who initiated the contact.

You can find your potential student’s company position and telephone number in his email signature (usually found after the name of the sender) and phone him.

Remember, most enquiries received from the corporate world are the result of three events:

  1. An educational problem the person cannot solve without your support
  2. From meetings where educational training possibilities for company personnel were discussed
  3. A personal spontaneous decision

Telephone first – don’t hit the email reply button

  • What if he has already changed his mind?
  • What if he is first collecting educational training information and isn’t interested in meeting you in person?
  • What if he is not the person making the final decision?
  • Is he the person making the final decision?

Question after question! They can only be answered if you ask the writer of the email.

Corporate people are always short on time. If this person has to spend his precious time writing an answer to your questions before he knows what you offer, he’ll ignore your email.

When you should send a reply email…

However, if the corporate person lives too far away to meet you, than do send a reply email to suggest a phone call in which you can discuss his requirements and ask him your questions. Add a link to your website or (if possible) attach to the email your teaching service prospectus or brochure.

Once you have successfully arranged a meeting, keep a discreet recording of your conversation if possible (for your own use of course 🙂 ) or make notes, which would be expected by any enquiring student.

Yet be aware…

Ten per cent of all your prospective students and business customers are going to decline your service from the outset!

The Price Resistance factor

If your potential student does back away, then know that he has fallen into one of those 10% of customers you must expect to lose automatically.

Years of marketing research have established that price resistance lies at 10 per cent. In clear text, this means 10 per cent of the population (in any country) are going to automatically refuse your teaching service. There is no real reason whatever for refusing to take up your service offer and there is nothing you can do about it. Since you cannot avoid it, you needn’t begin to pull your hair out because the person doesn’t call back, or write ‘Thank you but no thanks’.

That being said, you’ve still 90 per cent of the market you can present your teaching service offer. 🙂

Why the first face-to-face interview is so important

Strive to arrange that coveted face-to-face meeting! Yes, it’s COVETED and here is why:

They are more likely to be successful than any e-mail or phone call because this is where both teacher and student immediately feels if the chemistry fits. It’s where you can start your teacher-student relationship. And… it’s also the first opportunity to help your potential student discover values (even those he may not have thought about) as a result from working with you.

Leading students to recognise the value of your teaching service (and how your fee is based on achieving this value), is critical.

No, it’s not a Needs Analysis of his educational deficits and requirements! That happens in follow up meetings. The first face-to-face interview is so important because an interview technique guides and educates a student (who is still sitting on a decision fence) to elicit the core of his educational values, problems and requirements.


Strive to get a face-to-face meeting with all potential new students.


  1. Emails are easy to ignore or to delete!
  2. Telephone the potential student to arrange a face-to-face meeting.
  3. Don’t reply to enquiry emails unless the person is outside your logistical scope of travel.

You’ll find information on how to use price resistance as a measuring tool and an example first interview questionnaire to determine a value-based student expectations in my ebook on ‘Freelance Teachers: How To Avoid Underearning’; Your guide to creating an individual system for your financial security.


What Do You Think?

Have you experienced unanswered enquiries like Laura? The next time you receive an email enquiry, will you telephone the student instead or writing a reply? Let us know if you had more success by telephoning than by hitting the email reply button.

Leave a comment in the Add Your Comment box below. 🙂 or send me an email.

It would be great if you could send me a quick email to let me know your thoughts on this.


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