Freelance Writers: How to Turn a Client Meeting Into a Windfall of Work
Nowadays, many freelancers rarely meet their clients face-to-face. However if you do find yourself “taking a meeting” with a client, following are three guidelines that will ensure a constant flow of work.
1. Fight the urge to speak: My mother used to say, “The creator gave you two ears and one mouth. Now why do you think that is?” (I’ve always loved to talk, talk, talk).
Obviously, her point was, talk less and listen more. So, after the initial pleasantries have taken place, let the client do the bulk of the talking. If you let a person talk long enough, you will invariably get a feel for what they want – even if they keep sprinkling their conversation with phrases like, “I’m not quite sure which direction I want to go in.”
Should you take notes? I always let clients know that I will be jotting down notes as they’re talking. I’ve found that some people get nervous/take offense/feel like you’re not listening if you are writing while they speak. So, I just kind of put it out there.
Usually, I’ll say something to the effect of, “My job is simply to highlight the pearls of wisdom most clients don’t even realize they’re dropping. Taking notes helps me to do this.”
This does two things:
a) It puts the client at ease: After I tell them this, most realize that I’m not only doing my job, but I’m doing it diligently; and
b) It makes the client focus: I think this is an unconscious thing with most clients. When people realize that you’re really focusing on what they say, it makes them focus more.
2. Clarify: Remember, most human beings just want to be heard, and possibly understood. So, resist the urge to give a “presentation.” This is not the time.
After you’ve listened to the client, repeat what they’ve said to you, ask clarification questions where necessary.
To use an old shrink’s trick, something along the lines of, “Just to be sure I understood you, you said you wanted . . . Did I understand you correctly?”
A short synopsis of what they’ve said will do just fine. Let them know that you realize that the details need to be worked out, but you just want a clear understanding of their general idea/need.
3. Upsell: What I mean is, if the job entails working on their website, when you turn in the completed project, tell them about a monthly newsletter that you can provide, an offline brochure to hand out at trade shows, a line of thank you poems for past clients, etc.
This does two things:
a) It shows that you understand their business: If you truly listen to a client, quite a few ideas should come to you about how they can better serve their client; and
b) It demonstrates that you are forward-thinking: Many times when you present an idea to a client, it will be something that they never would have thought of themselves.
Or, if they had, they never would have “front-burnered” it until you presented it in such a way that it would be folly if they didn’t implement it sooner, rather than later.
Freelance writers have to be more than good copywriters, they have to be forward-thinking marketing and sales professionals. When you consider the old business axiom that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your client base, upselling should be a natural part of every client presentation.
I can’t tell you how many times clients have come back to me months, sometimes a few years later, ready to implement an idea I had presented to them that they hadn’t even thought of.
FYI, I call this my “LUCky” system: Listen, Upsell & Clarify. Doing these three things consistently will go a long way towards ensuring more work than that one project a client initially contacted you about.
Now, go create some LUC of your own!
About the Author: May be reprinted with the following, in full: Yuwanda Black is the publisher of InkwellEditorial.com: THE business portal for and about the editorial and creative industries. First-hand freelance success stories, e-courses, job postings, resume tips, advice on the business of freelancing, and more! Launch a Profitable Freelance Writing Career in 30 Days or Less -- Guaranteed! Log on to InkwellEditorial.com to learn how.