- April 13th, 2010
- 61 Comments
When I first started out as a freelancer and got my first client – the prospect of meeting him was daunting to say the least. Over time, my confidence grew which led me to write a short overview of points related to that first crucial introduction here1.
However, meeting a client as I have learned is much more than just remembering to bring a pen and a spare laptop battery! There are many dos, and don’ts as well as pitfalls to avoid.
You are There
You have both turned up to the meeting for the sole purpose of getting more information about each other. You are there specifically to get more information on the client you’re potentially working for. You are also there to learn more about the specifics of a project that can never be quite deduced from a brief.
The client is there to get more information from you on your proposed approach and also to learn more about you as a person / business.
In order for you to get the proper information from the client and in order for your client to have a good impression of you and your business, you must know that preparation is key!
Preparation for a client meeting is very similar to preparing for an interview. When this interview starts, you are to know everything that you can at that point in time.
Here are a few things that you should do:
- Google their company.
- Read through their website if they already have one. This is normally a good place to learn some valid information about the client.
- Look for competitors. Their competitor’s approach are all snippets of chatter that you will be dropping into the conversation. This just shows that you are on the ball.
Researching them as much as you can prior to the first meeting will appear professional and thorough – qualities any client will want to associate with you.
Going the extra mile is an investment of time,
but it will definitely pay off.
Your Experience / Portfolio / Skills
At some point, 9 times out of 10 – conversation will move to previous work that you have done. Cue your portfolio samples and past websites that you have designed in your laptop and take out your beautifully prepared PDF. This part of the meeting is very important.
- Don’t see this as an opportunity to talk for a year about each one of your previous projects and how great they are. Short, concise to the point – you can convey your thought process in a straight to the point manner without baffling clients with why you chose one image replacement method over another.
- If its paper – try your best to not sit there silently while they flip through your work in an awkward silence that does no one any good. Instead, take the opportunity to lean in and take them on a journey through your work. Engaging your client is essential. People want to feel involved.
Don’t let this part of the meeting linger and take the foreground. You want to be talking about their project and how you can help them. How you have helped people in the past with their needs is merely a reference point, a star on top of the Christmas tree. You, the designer should be using this meeting to let your client see that you want to take on their project and clinch the deal.
I have somewhat of a mental script that I follow. I just fill in the blanks to the details at these respective meetings. It includes these cue points:
- It was great to meet you and your team…
- I really learned a lot about the project and have received plenty of details…
- I will shoot you an e-mail summarizing what we spoke about…
- *I start packing away my laptop and samples.*
- I will give you a ring / email / meet on to discuss moving forward.
- Thanks for your time, see you soon…
Those are my rehearsed lines, and it saves me from that awkward ‘should I pack things up yet’ as it seems natural and flows.
Have I thought about the whole affair way too much? Maybe, but that first client meet for me is often a deal clincher or breaker – so I think it’s good to examine the process to ensure you get these projects!
What’s your experience?
What are some of the things that you do when you meet with clients? We would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions as well. Please feel free to leave a comment and share with us your experiences about meeting with clients. I’m sure that we can all learn something from each other that we can apply in our next client meet. Do you have any funny stories or stories that are just weird? Share them in the comments below.
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- 1 http://www.acuitydesigns.net/when-meeting-a-client-as-a-freelance-designer/
- 2 http://freelanceswitch.com/freelance-freedom/freelance-freedom-93/