As a freelancer, your success relies on your client generation and their satisfaction with your work. You must be able to actively acquire customers. One way to do this to aggressively connect with potential clients or ask for recommendations, but another is to produce wow-worthy work so that they come and find you. You can find opportunities to make something extra eye-catching by practicing good client assessment.
Streamline a client process to handle all the logistics of taking on a new client like quotes and contracts. Keep all the transactional aspects of your client interaction consistent. Then you don’t even need to think about all of those details. Instead, you can focus on asking the questions you need to in order to determine what type of client they are.
Green Lights in Client Assessment
Actively listen to your clients when you talk with them for the first time. Hear what they say and what they don’t say about themselves:
Openness to Ideas
Everyone thinks they know what they want. Sometimes, they don’t know enough in general to know what they want. Throw out an idea or two when discussing the job without overwhelming them with too many possibilities. Discover how much room you have to give them the best work you can produce within their comfort zone.
Watch out for indecisive ones because dealing with someone who is uncertain takes a lot of validation and reassurance. Be prepared for what kind of relationship you will have to maintain with your client.
Need for Sense of Control
When they are highly anxious or insecure, people can’t cope with surprises. They don’t want to deal with anything outside of their comfort or understanding. These kinds of people will want to be constantly updated. They will require that you ask for their approval before anything. Most likely, they will already have a concrete idea of what they are paying you for.
If you want to engage with a client like this, it’s better to go ahead and give them exactly what they ask for. Then move on to other work that will get you more leads and visibility.
Understanding of What They Know and Don’t Know
Those who respect the expertise of others are prime clients for more innovative approaches. Take advantage of these moments to pitch concepts or ideas that will meet their needs and showcase your best work even if it’s not what they initially envisioned.
Everybody wins when you can achieve some creative license and provide the client with something that will meet all their needs. More often than not, you will have to bow to your client’s demands and expectations as a freelancer, but with a little vigilance, you don’t always have to.
Remember, the best thing for your ultimate success is actually to avoid compromise if you can. Still don’t believe me? Check out this explanation of designing against client expectations. Share your thoughts on client assessment and interactions.