Every partnership starts with vetting for the right match. In business, it’s most effective to fully know and understand your client to ensure your businesses are right for each other. Here are some effective tips for a preliminary client interview:
Listen to their wants
You: “Hey, thanks so much for considering us! Before we begin to talk about how we can help each other, tell me about you and your business.”
Client: “Yes, so we are this amazing company looking for your kind of help. Personally, I love that we are (free, structured, sharp, casual, etc.)...”
You: “That’s great to know! Now that I have a small understanding of you, tell me- what are your expectations with my company?”
Client: “Well I need x, y, z, in this amount of time for this dollar amount.”
You: “Ok, great, I see you have needs in these areas (repeat what they’ve said.) Is that right? If so, we can definitely provide solutions. Let’s take a minute to dissect a little more…”
You want your prospective client to feel important and you display that by allowing them to tell you everything you need to know about them and their company. Often times, a client will talk without even realizing they’ve revealed everything you need to know. Let them have the floor, but keep the conversation under your control.
Take notes of their doubts
Pay attention to all the yellow flags before you find yourself dealing with a red flag. A client will quickly tell you what they want, but when it comes to doubts, some shy away from truly voicing their concerns. This is where your true connector skills come in. Let them feel totally comfortable to be vulnerable about what their doubts are. Don’t be so quick to dispel them, but simply listen and take very detailed notes! Knowing what a client won’t be pleased with will save you time and error along the way.
Ask questions but make sure they are the right questions
Be intentional. Though you are lending the floor to your client to give you the info you need from them, already have a rubric in place of the direction you want the conversation to go. Yes, the best conversations are when we can be comfortable and free-flowing, but in business you must use strategy, intent, and structure to remain focused. In business we are here to make money and if time is money, us entrepreneurs have very little (if any) of that to waste.
Be relatable and be empathetic
As you’ve briefly learned about them as a person and even more about their business goals, find examples of things they mention where you both connect. Make yourself as relatable as possible and prove your company has resolved those issues you’ve run into in the past. Having dealt with similar problems already offers more credibility to you understanding and being able to help the client. If it’s an issue you’ve overcome, empathize and ensure them you are here to prevent them from dealing with the familiar stressors you can help them avoid.
Simple as that. Not every client is going to be your perfect match. Be honest with yourself and the client to not waste time. Nothing worse that being in a commitment with someone you truly cannot work with and blossom. If you know your business is a shoe-in, tell them! Don’t be afraid to make the next call a sales pitch for your business.
Having this “interview" with a prospective client will be beneficial for both parties involved. Take some time to keep your small business unique and respected by displaying the value in building an authentic and intentional working relationship with the client. The best clients, return clients, and referred clients are in your network because of the value you offer them and help them feel. We’re all people trying to reach our goals and what better way than to do it together, with the right match.
If you are a small business or nonprofit looking for content services, I strongly encourage you to set up a consultation with our lovely creative director, Juana. You can reach her here. She has a knack for getting to know a person and their needs through conversation.
We hope this article was helpful and cultivates many fruitful business relationships for you in the future!