Freelancing isn’t just about delivering great work.
To be successful, you need to be able to establish relationships with potential customers.
A client meeting is a perfect example of that.
Unfortunately, acing the client meeting by giving the right answers isn’t something that comes naturally to many. Some freelancers are able to sell their services by establishing rapport remarkably quickly, but that doesn’t happen for everyone.
If you need some help, let me walk you through the entire preparation process so you could have the best chance to conquer your first client meeting.
Steps to Prepare for a Client Meeting
Now that we know your client’s preparations for the meeting, let’s start to prepare yourself.
Step 1: Prepare Your Answers
The client will ask you a lot of questions at the meeting, so you need to be ready.
In fact, I can categorize their questions in two major areas: one relates to the project, another one – to you.
Knowing these will help you to know how to answer them.
Here are the ideas of project-related questions:
- What do you think of the project’s goals? Are they achievable and formulated well?
- How fast do you think we can accomplish this project? Can you give us an approximate time frame?
- What do you think the requirements for the success of this project are?
- What are your expectations in terms of remote work?
- Do you wish to be compensated hourly or per project milestone?
Next, be ready to answer questions related to your work experience and personality. Clients know very well that the quality, skill, and professionalism of freelancers can vary significantly.
So, they can ask a lot of questions here, too. Here are some ideas for you to prepare answers:
- do you have experience working on similar projects? If yes, can you share the results?
- What is your vision of the success of this project?
- What is your approach to handling challenging requirements?
- And What is your approach to working with opinionated team leads and colleagues?
- How do you work under pressure?
- How do you define quality work?
Preparing to answer these questions is a must to nail the first impression during the client meeting.
Together, your answers will help the client to have a better idea of whether they should hire you.
Step 2: Research The Client’s Past Projects
Is there a chance to see what this client had been working for? If yes, take time to research their previous projects.
Freelance platforms like Upwork provide this information.
When you click on a project and scroll down below the project’s description and requirements, you’ll find a great section called “Client’s recent history.”
The section contains such useful info as the descriptions of previous projects, deadlines, payment, and feedback (to both the client and freelancer).
Take time to read the history to see how the client operates. Every company has a unique style of working, so it might be helpful to know the experience of other freelancers.
If you don’t have access to the client’s project history, no worries. Other places to look are their company’s website, blog and social media accounts.
Even a website menu can provide some good clues.
A blog can also contain articles where the client’s company describes the tools/technologies they work with.
Here’s an example blog post thumbnail you can use.
The post hints that the company’s main target audience is businesses in need of custom software development. What businesses exactly? You’ll have to open that blog post and read, my friend.
Next, the client’s company’s LinkedIn posts and ads could also be helpful. They can give you a good idea of what they’re working with, their target customers, and the unique proposition.
This post, for example, shows that the company is targeting executives and provides solutions for customer support.
All freelancers or solo entrepreneurs can get useful info to prepare for the client meeting.
For example, if you’re a content writer/copywriter/UX writer, check out the style of the copy at the company’s blog, website, and other marketing materials they publish.
If you’re a web designer, see the technologies they use, the style, and check the skills their employees have by visiting their LinkedIn profiles.
The takeaway is that when you know the client’s previous projects, you can answer their questions better about similar topics.
Step 3: Come up With Your Own Questions
Asking questions about the project is something that you should also be judged for after the client meeting. But how many questions should you ask?
Chances are you’ll come up with a bunch after researching the company and learning more about the project. While asking them all shows you’ve done your homework, it’s also not the best idea.
Try limiting the number of questions to ten.
It’s the perfect amount for a start that can help you with understanding the client’s needs. Besides, you’ll have some more questions during the meeting based on what the client will say.
Some common questions to keep in mind are:
- “What is the main goal of this project?” Often, the clients don’t give all the reasons why they need to complete a project. Knowing them, however, could help you to understand why they’re doing it. It could be something as simple as “I don’t like the current design of our website” to “we have to redesign the website to update the brand image.”
- “What are you looking to solve with this project?” The answer given by the client will show you how you can help them advance their business
- “What happens if this project fails?” The answer will help you understand how important the project is for the client
- “How will you measure the performance of the project?” Success means different things for clients. More leads, more monthly recurring revenue, two landing pages by February, you name it, as long there are some specifics.
Pro tip! In addition to these questions, also try to establish what the client thinks of potential challenges and issues. As a professional, you have a good idea of what might make it harder to accomplish the project. The client, however, can worry about different things.
Asking about these things is important because you’ll know how to reassure the client that you could solve them.
Step 4: Prepare Testimonials from Previous Clients
Having positive testimonials and reviews is a great way to impress everyone during the client meeting. Many clients ask for them because, unlike permanent position workers, poor performance in freelancers can’t be easily identified.
If you had a writing service that specializes in helping with content marketing, your clients would want to check your writing service reviews. But they don’t have to search for themselves.
The best option is to have at least a couple of written testimonials with you. If you can include the email of the person who wrote the testimonial, that’s even better! Have the client call them and hear how wonderful you were at that project.
Pro Tip! Think twice about sharing contacts of previous clients. Make it clear that they agreed to be contacted.
Step 5: Know Your Worth
If you know that you’re going to be discussing the payment during the client meeting, you need to know what to say.
If you sound unsure or ask to think about the final estimation, there’s a good chance that the client might think you have no idea how to price your work.
Pricing yourself as a freelance isn’t that simple.
Examples of the Worst Project Pricing Approaches
“I’ll come up with the price by asking my friend. She’s been freelancing for a long time, so she must have some advice for me.”
“I’m registered on Upwork, so I can see the profiles of other freelancers. So, I’ll find those with similar skills and experience and use their rate.”
Now, let me tell you why it’s bad.
Let’s imagine you saw that a freelancer with a similar experience charges $30 per hour. You did the same.
Now, imagine you have just agreed on a website development project with a client. The meeting went amazingly well, and he hired you.
Not only that, but he also provided other helpful stuff like website content and map.
You’ve done everything in just three hours and the site looks SPECTACULAR.
The client loved it and you got paid $90.
At that point, you realized that there’s something wrong. The work you’ve done was worth so much more! The problem was you used another freelancer’s approach and lost money.
To avoid that, let’s approach pricing in a smarter way.
How to Define the Final Price of the Project
- Be honest about your skills. If you’re an expert, charge accordingly
- Collect taxes from clients who give you a hard time. If the client is especially hard to work with, then charging a bit more than usual is justified
- Charge by project. This is a good way to avoid the mistakes described above
- Don’t forget about taxes. Add about 15 percent to the final price to cover most tax deductions.
FYI: according to the 2020 Freelancer Income report, the worldwide average rate charged by gig workers is $21. Interesting fact: the level of education has no effect here. A freelancer who graduated from high school could learn as much as a freelancer with a postgraduate degree.
Step 6: Create an Agenda
Now, structure all the information you read about in a logical way to present/ask/show to your client. It’ll be your agenda to follow during the meeting.
A good start would be to talk about the client’s goals and expectations. The organizational matters will follow, with things like payment and work schedule discussed at the end of the client meeting.
5 Tips for a Successful Client Meeting
Now, let’s quickly go over the tips to ensure that your first client meeting is a success. I don’t want to give you the obvious tips, like, how to dress or behave yourself.
Below, you’ll find tips that go beyond that.
1. Begin with Little Small Talk
You’ve just started the client meeting.
Although your goal is to convince the client to hire you, don’t jump right to the business. Spend several minutes talking about totally unrelated topics. Weather, NFL playoffs, just a simple “How are you?” is much better than going straight to the project.
If you show genuine interest in something that matters to your client, it would be a perfect way to differentiate yourself from others.
Besides, many clients are looking for freelancers who they can establish long-term business relationships with. If you seem to them like the kind of person they can work easily with, there’s a good chance they’ll agree to cooperate.
2. Follow Your Agenda
Okay, small talk is over.
Now, it’s time to ask the questions and give answers.
As mentioned, you can begin by asking the client about their needs and expectations. They are the center of the universe at that point.
Go over each point and make sure you understand the client’s vision of everything.
During this process…
3. Ask Open-Ended Questions
Let me make myself very clear here.
By advising you to ask open-ended questions, I’m not saying you should stop the client whenever you feel like asking one.
Be respectful and wait until they finish.
Here are some open-ended questions you might have during the client meeting:
- “What are the short- and long-term goals you’d like to achieve with this project?”
- “How important is this project for your business?”
- “What is your vision of our cooperation during this project?”
As mentioned previously, try having at least ten questions before the client meeting. As you talk, many others will emerge. While there’s no universal formula for the right questions, they will certainly work if you keep them polite, relevant, and focused.
4. Take Notes
If you need, feel free to take some quick notes to remember what you want to ask. It’s a reasonable technique that has a practical purpose: helping you ensure that you don’t miss anything.
For example, you can even say what you wrote back to them:
So, you said you needed a live chat on your website because you can convert more leads and distribute lead magnets. Did I get that right?
For a client, the fact that you’re taking notes also means you’re focused and engaged.
For you, it’s a way to make a good impression and ensure a lack of miscommunication.
5. Don’t Agree to Everything
It might be tempting to say “yes” to everything to make the client hire you but try to be realistic about your skills.
For example, let’s suppose a client asks you to finish something within a ridiculously short deadline.
- Option #1: “The deadline might be a bit short… Well, I’ll try to figure something out.”
- Option #2: “I’m afraid the deadline is a bit too short for a task like this. Is there any way to extend it?”
Obviously, the second option is a better one.
Remember: don’t sign up for something you know you can’t accomplish. Be realistic. Not only it’s the right thing to do, but also a very professional approach that has both sides’ interests at the end.
Time to Conquer Your First Client
Wow, you’ve made it!
You’ve just made a huge step forward. Now, you know how to prepare for the first client meeting.
Remember: freelancing isn’t just about working. Knowing how to create a good business relationship with clients is an equally important skill that’ll serve you well in the long-term.
Good luck with your freelance career. I hope every client meeting of yours will end with them saying “Okay, where do I sign?”
You May Like To Read:
- 4 Ways to Make Your Next Business Meeting As Efficient As Possible
- Harness the Potential of Web-based Technology to Optimize Meeting Results
Frank Hamilton has been working as an editor at essay review service Best Writers Online. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.