You check your email in the morning and, BOOM, there is a message from a potential client sitting in your inbox. You don’t know them. They don’t know you. But somehow they found you like the needle in a haystack of other creative vendors.
It is always exciting when a new client opportunity seems to fall from the sky out of nowhere. You didn’t expect, but boy-oh-boy did you need it. As of late, your revenue has been slow and you’ve considered dusting off your resume to get out of this freelance game completely.
All you need to do now is close this deal in the first meeting. How can you do it?
Clients Buy Because They Trust You
A client won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you. It’s a matter of fact. And unfortunately, this brand new client trusts you enough to reach out, but most likely not enough to buy your services (especially in the first meeting). In most cases they are “feeling you out” to possibly consider working with you.
Trust must be built through positive interactions over time, the same way you grew to trust your close friends. If you want this new client to trust you enough to buy from you in the first meeting, your job is to consolidate as many positive interactions as possible BEFORE the meeting.
The Typical Sales Flow
When the client chooses to work with someone other than you, it is likely that you did not create enough positive interactions to grow their trust in you (and the other vendor did). Far too many creatives use this typical sales flow for brand new clients:
- Interaction 01: Client reaches out to you via email.
- Interaction 02: You reply via email and set a meeting to discuss their project.
- Interaction 03: In the meeting you discuss the client, project and highlight your strengths. You discuss budget and the client usually makes their decision on whether or not they want to proceed to a formal proposal.
Did they trust you enough to buy? Sometimes, yes. Most of the time, no.
What If You Added Some More Positive Interactions?
Let’s look at the typical sales flow with the addition of a few easy-to-add positive interactions to build more trust.
Interaction 01: Client reaches out to you via email.
Interaction 02: You reply via email and set a meeting to discuss their project.
New Interaction 03: You find the client on LinkedIn and “connect” with them. The client receives a notification in their email. The notification has your smiling face on the thumbnail. The client thinks, “Nice of them to connect. They look like a good person.” More trust is built.
New Interaction 04: After the client accepts your connection request on LinkedIn, you send them a message through the platform. “Thanks for connecting and thanks again for reaching out. We are looking forward to meeting with you about your project. See you soon!” The client replies with a simple message and thinks, “What a nice person.” More trust is built.
New Interaction 05: You take 5 minutes out of your busy to pull up the client’s website and do a little research. You find SOMETHING INTERESTING that relates to their business. This may be an article in which they were highlighted, it could be an observation about the difference between their business and a competitor or maybe a design or marketing recommendation of some sort. Be creative. Be smart. Find something to comment on or that could add value to their business. Then send them an email, “I was doing a little research preparing for our meeting tomorrow and I noticed on your website…” The client will think, “Wow, this is an interesting observation and I like that they were doing some research before our meeting.” More trust is built.
Interaction 06: In the meeting you discuss the client, project and highlight your strengths. You discuss budget and the client usually makes their decision on whether or not they want to proceed to a formal proposal.
This simple approach didn’t take very much time, but it DOUBLED the number of interactions you had with the client from three to six. It highlighted your sincere interest in working with them. And it showed them the thoughtful approach you will take into the engagement by researching their business and industry (not just jumping to the work). The client is impressed, more trust has been built and they are more likely to buy from you…straight fact.
Of course, this isn’t the only approach you can take to increase the number of positive interactions you have with a client before the first official meeting. Be creative and be sincere. Look for easy and non-obtrusive ways to interact and then watch your wins increase as “cold clients” are warmed up to you right from the start.