I need some work done, can we hop on a call?
One of the best sentences a freelancer, an agency or a business can read or hear. The client is interested in working with you! Then you immediately start thinking about the meeting with a potential client. What will the client ask? Do they have any alternatives besides you? What kind of pain points do they have and can you deliver what they need?
Before the actual meeting takes place, there’s something important you need to do: prepare for the client meeting. Here is how you can get everything prepared and ready to sweep the client off their feet in a meeting.
Research the client before the meeting
This goes without saying but I have seen far too many meetings ruined because the freelancer/company missed this basic step. In an age of information, finding out more about a potential client is easier than ever before.
I suggest looking up their website, googling the company name, looking at their LinkedIn profiles and other social media. You can learn about the way they communicate and position themselves and you can find out how much value you can bring to them and how much you can improve your customer relationship.
Also, it’s just common sense for some professions. As a writer, I’d often research potential clients’ websites and blogs to find out what people wrote before me so I could figure out why they wanted to hire me in the first place.
Knowing what they already do before the client actually told me proved to be an advantage in the meetings. This applies to many types of jobs so do your research on the actual work that needs to be done if you can.
It’s also a good idea to do this so you can check out your competitors. Often times, I would find other freelancers who worked for the client and did the same work as I was supposed to. This would let me see the quality of their work and the expectations that the client had.
A lot of times, I would find out that the client is a bad fit based on the type of people hired before me. Other times, I would realize that I should charge the client more based on the results they were expecting to see.
One extra trick you can use is to visit their “Careers” page and find out if they’re actively hiring for someone that does the same work that you do. When I did freelance work, I immediately knew that if a client was already hiring for a writer/content marketer, there was plenty of work to be had and eventually, I could even ask if they wanted to bring me on full time. I would go to LinkedIn and search for mutual connections or just add the relevant person and simply ask for work. Most of the time, it worked.
Last but not least, find out exactly who will be talking with you. Remember their name and do some research on them too, just to know what you can expect from the conversation.
Research the client’s competitors
If you want to go the extra mile, you can find out what kind of competition your potential clients have and what you can do to make them stand out in comparison. This could be a lot of work or a 15-minute session on Google, depending on how much you know about the client and their industry.
It’s always a great feeling to walk into a client meeting fully prepared. Not only can you show what you can do for the client, but you can also show what you can do to make them better than the competition.
Prepare to give something for free to get the client hooked
You know the client, you know their needs and you’ve done your research. They will probably have some questions in the meeting that you can address to help them immediately.
While you could say that you can offer help once they sign a contract and pay your invoice, you can and should give some advice for free. They will see that you can walk the walk and ideally, they’ll be more inclined to work with you.
However, there is a fair share of “clients” out there fishing for offers, when in reality, they just want free advice from a variety of sources. That way, they can get tips from a few businesses and do the work themselves. You can probably spot a client like this from a mile away, but always make sure to give them very small tips instead of providing them with a whole strategy and a plan of action.
Prepare a list of questions
While you want the meeting to feel like a friendly, informal conversation, it should have some structure too. The client is there to present you with a problem and they will give you some information. However, you want to be the one guiding the conversation.
There is a great list of 7 great qualifying questions in this post we created a while ago. The main thing to keep in mind is that you should always have a list of questions that you’re going through and write down notes.
The aim of the questions is threefold. You want to find out what made them choose you, what kind of problem you need to solve for them, and what kind of actual problem you need to solve. The last part is the most important.
I’ve had quite a few meetings and video calls where the client would say they need some writing done in their name. After asking a few more questions, I would usually find that the real reason for hiring me was different.
They either didn’t have the time to write, didn’t have the writing skills, they needed someone with a great track record to guarantee them results, they didn’t want to be a step behind the competitors or something else. This is the key information you want to get from your client meetings, so prepare a set of questions to find it out.
Once you know the real reason the client wants to hire you, you have their true pain point and you can use it to start off your business proposal. Instead of saying “we’ll redo your website so you can have a modern eCommerce platform”, say “we’ll redesign your website so you can convert more visitors into leads”.
Anticipate the frequently asked questions
If you’ve been running your business for a while, you have a pretty good idea about the potential questions you may get. The research that you do on the client and their competitors will also help you anticipate some questions that you may get.
However, some questions can catch you off guard. As our CEO Adam mentions, one client asked him in a meeting – what happens with his data if he dies? It’s okay to not have an answer immediately, but follow up promptly after the meeting. The good news is that the longer you’re in business, there will be fewer questions you cannot immediately answer.
Choose the location
We’ve written about this in detail before, but you should be the one choosing the meeting location, if possible. In the age of the coronavirus pandemic, things are slowly shifting to the sphere of digital, but here’s how things were before and hopefully, how they will be in the future.
When you set up a meeting at the client’s office, two things happen. First, it requires no effort on their part – all they have to do is show up. You want them to work a little bit harder and show that they need you just as much as you need them. Second, the client will be in familiar surroundings, with phones ringing and high chances of someone interrupting you.
Instead, pick a neutral location. Somewhere nice and upscale with a quiet spot just for the two (or more) of you. Our CEO suggests hotel lobbies as a great meeting location, for example. Get there early, grab yourself a drink and familiarize yourself with the location before the client even arrives.
Once you’ve done preparing…
It’s time to get to that meeting and kick some ass. The better you prepare, the more smoothly the meeting will go. If you’ve done all the steps outlined above, you should have an amazing meeting and find out exactly what the client needs. And you know what happens after that – writing a spectacular business proposal, using proposal software.
The absolute best way to use your meeting information is to sit down and write a proposal immediately, send it off and win their business. There are many ways to do this, but only one is super fast, efficient and made to convert prospects into clients – Better Proposals. Sign up today so you too can win more clients faster!