Ever fail at convincing a client that you’re the perfect designer, writer, whatever, for the job? Me too. I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions lately about what I could be doing better when initiating a conversation with prospective clients. With the last few clients I didn’t “win”, after much thought, I realized I had failed them. That’s right, I failed them and in the process myself and my business. So what did I do wrong? Did I submit an unreasonably high bid? Was I douche-bag and disrespect the client? Nope. Well, in hindsight I didn’t respect the prospective clients enough but I definitely didn’t intend to disrespect them.
The most important part of the process is where I failed. With the majority of my clients, I spend a few weeks getting to know them & their business needs. Now, truth be told, I’ve usually secured them as clients with a contract before I do this. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. You might say, “But you’ll just be spending time with someone that isn’t committed to the project and lose out on another project that will pay better!” And you might be right. Does that mean that the prospect in front of me doesn’t deserve my time and energy just as much as another project that isn’t contractually obligated yet? I don’t think so.
Yes, I run a business. Yes, I need money to pay my bills. Was money the reason I started this venture into being my own boss? Shit no! My business is built around helping others to the best of my ability. If I’m not doing that with each of my clients, and those who may one day become clients, I am failing.
So how do I plan to give proper time to these fellow human beings while remaining a profitable business? Listening more intently is the first bit. Often times my brain begins working as I’m speaking to someone about their needs, so I end up missing bits of the conversation. Instead I plan to focus on what they are saying and wait to begin building a mental solution until after our meeting(s).
Second, document everything. If possible I’ll record conversations with my prospective clients. For better or worse, having that record of what exactly we talked about will come in handy later in the relationship with them. Personally I think I will love having an audio record of the conversations so I don’t have to make scribbly notes and then ask the prospect later what the heck they meant by something I wrote down. Primarily I use Evernote to keep my meeting records. Both textual and audio. If I’m having a Skype meeting, I use this great app Call Recorder for Skype.
For now, I think these are two great places to start.
Have any insights for me? Let’s have a chat!