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There is often a strong feeling to take on a client no matter what, especially if your business or freelance career is just starting or having some lean times. However, not all clients are ideal for your business. For a variety of reasons, you may want to pass on taking on a client. Asking some key questions will help you focus on the clients you can best help and work with.
We asked these work-at-home experts to share their tips on what questions to ask before taking on a client. We hope that these questions will help you to find that perfect fit!
I think it’s very important to ask these 3 fundamental questions to your potential clients.
1) What is the problem you’re trying to solve? (lack of traffic, improve conversions, build an MVP etc.)
2) What are the tools you’re using for collaboration? (Planable, Slack, Notion)
3) What’s your style of communication?
1) What is the project about?– There are some industries that I work in, and those where I definitely do not work in. Knowing what the client is selling, and what they’re trying to achieve with the project helps me determine if I’m the right professional for them.
2) When is the project deadline?– This is the disqualifying question, because if I don’t have an opening in the time frame they need, we can’t work together.
3) Any examples of work you like? – Since my career is in a somewhat subjective field (design), there needs to be the right fit aesthetic-wise. If a client doesn’t know what they like, can’t articulate it, or like a style that clashes with my approach, that spells trouble for the project and I’d rather recommend someone else.
1) What does your budget look like? – When taking on a new client, one big concern is frugality. When it comes to business, a client that ’s frugal can make life very difficult. Ask them what their budget is – If they’re hesitant to answer, press them. Being unwilling to value what the service is worth can be a sign that they may not want to pony up because they don’t know how much they should pay. They might never be satisfied with the work you do and may try to make you give up, or get free work out of you. If you can define how much they want to spend on a monthly basis, you can project your services just at an acceptable rate and everyone can be happy with the outcome. If you operate this way, the new client will be comfortable paying you more when they know the kind of quality you’re going to provide at the cost they want.
2) What are your expectations? – One of the most important things to find out is if your client has unrealistic expectations. Every profession has its limits and if someone thinks that they are going to completely turn around their projections make sure their vision is realistic. Otherwise, you might find yourself with a very demanding client who doesn’t want to pay you.
1) How may I be helpful to you?
2) What are your best hopes for our collaboration?
3) Suppose our working together would be extremely helpful to you, what would be different in you day-to-day life?
1) What do you view as success? – “If you are considering taking on a new client, you need a tangible idea of what they are expecting from you. This helps you to make an informed decision as to whether or not you are able to meet their expectations and what you will need to do in order to succeed.”
2) What is your budget and how long until it renews? – “After finding out what your potential client considers to be a measure of success, you need to know how much money you have to work with. Knowing this means you can come up with an idea of what you can do with that budget to produce the results the client expects. If they have an unrealistic idea of what can be achieved on a small budget, it should be a warning sign that you will have difficulty managing their expectations.”
3) How can I benefit them? – “In some cases, a client doesn’t actually need your services. It may be a case of them thinking they need you, but in reality, your service won’t improve their current offering as much as they think. If this is the case, it’s best to be honest with the company; this will prevent them from paying for a service they don’t really need, which can come back to haunt you if three months down the line they want to know why your work has had no
impact at all. If you find that the company doesn’t really need your service, explain why and they will be grateful to you for being honest. This makes you a reputable provider and means you can focus on finding another client, one who really does need your offering.”
Note from Leslie:
I don’t work in a client-based business anymore; however, I am a client to my virtual assistant (you rock Melissa) and other services. Knowing my own issues, I can offer some tips on what you should ask clients.
- What are your goals? Many clients will come to you for your service (i.e. social media help), but what they really want is something more specific (i.e. 10K Instagram followers). You’ll best serve your client if you know what results (goals) they want, especially since often clients will think one service will help their goals, when you might know a different service will be better in getting results.
- How much contact and by what method does the client want/need? I like to think I’m a really easy client. Once I hand over a project, I let it go and assume it will be done. I don’t need constant updates on the status. However, there may be clients who want frequent updates.
- What specifically do you want done? Most clients have a vague idea what they want, but often can’t articulate it. In many cases, they can better express what they don’t want than what they do. You need to learn to ask questions that help you get specific about what they want to save you time and hassle. You may need to even ask them to find examples of what they like so you can better understand their wants.