Written by Mat Casner

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Freelance CEO Podcast
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Ep. 19. How To Crush Your Client Discovery Call

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Freelance CEO Mat Casner
The Freelance CEO Podcast with Mat Casner
Ep. 19. How To Crush Your Client Discovery Call
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How To Crush Your Client Discovery Call

Building an initial relationship with a potential client is crucial to landing them.

Okay? They’re nibbling at the bait, but one wrong word, and they could get spooked and jump off your line.

So someone calls you and they’re asking about your services, and maybe it goes something like this.

“Mat, I heard you design websites. I think I need one. Can you help me?” This happens a lot. When I talk with small business owners and people who have a business problem, they come to me with the best knowledge that they have, and oftentimes it’s limited understanding of what they really have to achieve in terms of a solution. But they come at me with what they know.

So usually it’ll come in the forms of, can you help me build a website? Can you help me build a logo? Can you help me design a brochure? That is what the conversation typically starts out at. And today I’m gonna show you the top three things that you should be doing in your initial client first conversation that will build trust and help you make the sale.

Here. Not too long ago, I was visiting with a a potential client, and this client was looking for a website. At least they thought they were looking for a website. They came to me and their question was very simple, Matt, I need a website. Can you help me out? Now, when I started out as a freelancer, to hear those words was music to my ears.

And I would have immediately jumped in and said, absolutely, I can do that. Let’s get started. And I was immature and didn’t really understand what I was doing. Now I was eager and I was willing to help. And those are two characteristics that are, make, make you a successful freelancer. But you need to take a step back when someone comes to you with that type of a question and hit the pause button.

And I’m gonna share with you three things that I do in my process when I’m having that initial conversation with a client. So step number one is to avoid the knee jerk reaction and just listen. Okay? When a client reaches out for your services, they know they need help and they’re trying to articulate the solution or what they feel like is the solution in the best words that they can come up with.

They are going to say website. They’re going to say logo, they’re gonna say business card, and they may know what they need, but you have to trust that they’re coming to you because they need help. And they, they’re at least coming to you as someone who’s either been recommended to them or they’ve seen something on social or your website or a referral or something has got them either on the phone with you or in a meeting and they need help.

And so they’re gonna ask you the question based on what limited information and knowledge they have about the solution. So before you jump back with a response and say, yeah, I can do that, hit the pause button and listen. They’re going to tell you what they need, and that information is going to be crucial to not only helping you to develop an accurate solution to their problem, but in the meantime, it’s going to help develop a sense of trust between you and your new potential client. So the first thing I want you to do when they ask you that question is to pause, stop, and just listen. Step number two, what I want you to do is I want you to ask the question why.

This is gonna take a little bit of time, and you may need to go deep on this, but the question why is going to help you get to the core? It’s gonna help you get to the center of what is really driving the conversation. Maybe they want more sales, maybe they want a different perception in their market space in terms of their identity.

Maybe they are trying to recruit new individuals to partner with them, or they’re looking to grow their network, or they’re looking to find donors. Whatever the situation is, you need to get to the why. And sometimes you may need to ask that why question more than once. You made to just keep digging down till you get to the very core issue that is driving the conversation to you.

So find out what their frustration is, find out what the underlying problem, goal, outcome that they’re looking for is, and I want you to be meticulous and write it down. I want you to have a piece of paper with you, or if you’re on a laptop or an iPad, I want you to take notes. I want you to listen to what they say, and I want you to write it down because this is going to be the prescriptive problem that you are going to solve. So when you get to this client, they’re going to come to you and ask you for a solution. You’re gonna pause, you’re going to listen, and then you’re gonna start asking the question why? Why do you think you need a website?

Why do you think you need a new logo? What goals or outcomes are you hoping to achieve by doing this or that? Write those details down. Once you’ve done that, then you’re ready for step number three. Step number three is building the solution based on what you’ve learned and the overall problem or goal to be achieved. Now you can articulate a plan that solves the problem.

You have a much more holistic understanding of what this client’s trying to do. Do they really want a website or a new logo? Not really. They’re just trying to solve a problem that’s real in their business, and they think that a website, a new logo, is going to do it for them. What they really want is a solution, not just the thing.

So keep that in mind as you’re building your solution, I want you to start to develop an action plan that solves the problem that gets them the result that helps them to achieve their goals. If you can do that, you’re gonna win the client. Here’s a pro tip by asking questions, especially why you’re gonna uncover the entire problem, okay? They’re likely not going to know what the entire solution looks like.

Let me use my car as an example. When I hear a noise and a knock in my car, I may have an idea of what’s wrong. I may have some thoughts, and I’m gonna go to my mechanic and I’m gonna say, I need help with my car. It’s doing this or that, and I think it is blank. Well, that’s going to give my mechanic a maybe a hint as to what’s going on.

But until he gets into my vehicle and then covers the underlying problem, does he know how to communicate back to me what the solution looks like or what the cost is going to be? Now, at the end of the day, I just don’t want a new part for my car. I want the problem fixed. So I’m going to listen to him and he’s gonna give me solution, and I’m going to make a decision on whether or not I feel like that solution has worth my money. Well, my car is pretty important. I needed to get around for work and for family and and this or that. So I’m probably gonna think really hard about, you know, paying the money to get the car fixed. Your clients are the exact same way.

They have a problem. You are the expert, you have the solution, and you are going to have an opportunity to prescribe for them a a package that’s going to solve their problem. Now, one of the things that by diving in and understanding the problem may mean there are additional services that they need that you can provide that they didn’t think of, they weren’t aware of, kind of like me going to the mechanic, I didn’t realize that I was gonna need this, this, and this to fix the problem. Okay? Same way with your client. You can create a holistic, comprehensive plan that solves the problem, gets the result, or gets the outcome. Here’s another pro tip. As you’re, as you’re talking with your client, as you’re presenting them with the options that you’ve come up with to solve the problem, resist the temptation to be overly technical. As creatives, as technical people, we know the jargon, we know the lingo, and it rolls off our tongue very easily. But you have to think about our client as being someone who doesn’t understand all the industry insider stuff.

It’s kind of like going to a doctor and getting a diagnosis for an ailment that you have. You really don’t want the textbook definition. You just want the doctor to explain in practical terms what he is gonna do to make you feel better. And if you can get a comfort level that the doctor’s prescribed action is gonna make you feel better, you’re gonna buy into the program and you’re gonna go along.

If the doctor starts to lose you in a lot of medical mumbo jumbo, you’re likely gonna get confused, and you’re probably not gonna feel any less anxious than you were before you started. So as you’re talking with your clients, you want to give them clear, concise, and a a definite definition in layman’s terms. Keep a lot of the technical stuff out of it because that’s just gonna scare them off.

You want to explain or convey enough of the solution so that the customer has a comfort level, that you’re the expert, you know what you’re talking about, and you can help them out, but don’t speak more than you need to, enough to cover the solution, but not more than that. So at the end of the day, your solution to their problem, because you’ve taken time to listen, you’ve taken time to get down to the why and understand what the core of their problem is, now you’ve got a complete holistic solution that is going to help foster trust between you and your client. And I’ll say this, and I’ll say it again. The biggest challenge that we have as freelancers is to create trust with those people that we serve.

And the closer we can bring that trust gap, the better The trust gap when it gets closed, means that we’ve got a sale ready to happen. So the more that you can gain your your client’s trust by explaining the solution that you’re gonna provide for them and walk them through the steps of how it’s gonna solve their problem, you are gonna have a customer, because a customer will always pay for solutions.