That’s one hell of a title, isn’t it? It might have attracted you so much that you ended up here. But I really mean it. There are only a few basic things you really need to know when closing a client. Whether you are a web designer, web developer, WordPress specialist or what have you. There are just these few things you can’t do without if you want to land a client or keep him or her happy all the time.
Knowledge is Power somebody once said. And guess what? Whoever it was, he (or she) was right. If you KNOW how something works, you can learn how to master it. So if you KNOW how to get clients (and even more important, how to keep THEM to keep YOU happy), you can actually start producing new clients at will. To illustrate this datum, let me give you an example.
Suppose you didn’t know how to make a cup of coffee (I don’t even want to try to imagine as a real coffee addict 🙂 ). You would make a mess of it and wouldn’t end up with a great cuppa, right? In life we go through all kinds of learning processes and that’s why we know how to tie a tie, how to get dressed or make the aforementioned cup of coffee.
Now, I can hear you think: “Yeah, right, but the cuppa is not human and humans don’t react in the same way as the cup of coffee.” And to a certain degree you are right of course. But what if you still had a few basic things you could do in a certain sequence which would help you land the client and keep him happy so you are the happiest of all happy campers? So, interested to know how? Here we go.
The Sequence of Closing a Potential Client
First of all you need to know what your potential client wants and needs. Sounds simple, right? But from experience I know it isn’t at all that simple, especially when it comes to design work. And here we find a common mistake of designers. You go into all kinds of discussions about the design. STOP! Aren’t you the expert? Hm? So why go into a discussion about what he wants for a design? You need to steer him here to the “need” step. And what he needs is probably something that brings him more business. We are talking FUNCTIONALITY.
So, you need to get an agreement here of all the things he needs on the website. Again, functionality. What pages does he need? Etc. Don’t talk about the design till later in the process. Don’t tell him you’ll build him the most beautiful website he ever saw. Why? You have no clue what he thinks is beautiful. The guy or girl might be colour blind! 🙂
Bare with me, I’ll explain where the design is going to fit in and how you can use all your creativity, without him or her wanting you to change the whole thing around all the time.
Important in the “need” step is you write down for him what he needs and get him to agree that that’s ALL he needs. Make VERY clear that your offer will only cover what you have agreed upon with him. If you get his agreement on what he needs regarding functionality (as an attachment to a contract for instance which you will sent him after the meeting) you are ready for the next step.
The Professionality Step
This is an important step. You need to somehow get him to understand that you are able to help him with his website problem. If he is not closed on your professionality right there and then, I can assure you it will be used against you later on. You can use your portfolio during this step. After seeing it, he or she will probably also come up with some ideas you can use in building the website or making the design. But make sure you continue with this step until he remarks on the beauty, professionality or something similar of your work, BEFORE you go to the next step.
The “Leave it All to Me” Step
This is probably the most important step. Because if you fail on this step, you will get a client who starts “bossing” you around. And there is nothing more deadly for a developer or designer. Your client needs to understand that you know what you are doing. So you need to build something into the conversation to which you can refer later on. There are a million ways to accomplish this, but it could be something like this:
Ask the client what he knows about designing and make very sure that in the end of your conversation he is convinced he knows nothing about the subject really. Keep it friendly of course and don’t make him feel like he is dumb. Keep it subtle. But make sure you both agree that he isn’t an authority on the subject. And end off with something like: “That’s okay, you can leave that all to me.” It’s important to have him agree on this. And that’s actually all an entrepeneur wants: that you do the job for him and that’s exactly why he hires you. Because he either doesn’t want to do it himself, of he doesn’t know how to do it. But you need to let him state it, so you can refer back to it later, if he all of a sudden wants to change your whole design around. The client is king, but you are boss! 🙂 And he needs to realize this.
(Needless to say, when you are dealing with someone who knows a lot about design and designing, this is a useless step and I can assure you, you might have a lot of problems with the client in the future. Nothing worse than a know best client.)
The “Let’s Agree On The Following” Step
After you got the client to agree on the fact he doesn’t know about design and designing, you have to have a conversation with him or her to what the next step is. And this is a simple one. You write everything down that is agreed upon and have him confirm it in writing. After he agreed, you make a contract out of all your data and send it over to him and get him to sign it or agree at least by email. And voila, you can go to work now.
Last but not least… As you can see, I didn’t speak about the financial side of life. I don’t know your pricing of course, but it is something you will have to fit in, in writing, in your offer. In the first conversation you can give an idea, but put the actual price in your offer and follow up on it. And if you did the other steps well and you don’t charge like Picasso (unless you are one 🙂 ), you should be fine and have a new client.
Do well and if you have any questions, you can ask them in the comments section.
PS… here some good examples of contracts.
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