How to Ace Your Consultations and Land Clients
When you’re first starting out, you may be reluctant to talk to potential clients face to face or via video chat. I totally get it, it’s pretty nerve wracking.
Like, what questions are they going to ask you? Are you going to be put on the spot?
The answer is, well, yeah, kinda!
The best thing for you to do is to be confident (easier said than done, right?). If you’re confident, or at least pretending to be, you can lead the conversation in the direction you want it to go, answer the questions with certainty and come across like you really know what you’re doing.
If the key to nailing your consultations is confidence, then how do you get confident?? That doesn’t just happen overnight. I mean, once you’ve done 50 consultations, you’ll probably feel pretty confident and smooth, but let’s be real, if you’ve done that many consultations, you’re likely not reading this article 😜
The best way to get confident if you’re lacking experience? Get prepared!
I’m going to walk you through all of my best confidence-boosting consultation-preparation tips so you can ace your virtual consultations!
Do your homework
When a potential client books a consultation, they sometimes supply me with useful information: what services they are interested in, their business struggles, their design pain points etc. It is important to make a note of all of these things.
These pain points and struggles are super important to talk about in your consultation, if you understand and address the clients problems, they will feel like you can really help them.
What else did they say that could be of value? You need to scan their initial contact emails thoroughly for anything that could help with your pitch.
For example: If I have a client that is struggling with brand design and wants to update her whole look, I will make sure I check out her current design before we get on the phone together and take some mental notes of how I could potentially improve it.
If this same client had come to me struggling with her brand and wanting to update it, but had not provided any examples of what her current brand design looked like, I would just email her and politely ask to see it! People don’t mind this, as it shows you are taking them time to help them. I would say something like
“...I would love if you could send through some examples of your current brand design so I could have a look at it before we talk!”
If you offer something that a potential client can’t physically “show” you, just come to the meeting prepared to offer alternative solutions and have a few different options up your sleeve.
If they have a booked a consultation with you and haven’t provided any information, I recommend emailing them and asking for some more details, so you can get a better scope on the project and come to the consultation prepared.
I also love checking out their business as a whole, so I can get a better idea of the whole picture, who they are and what they do. If you can find them on their website or social media, it pays off to have a scroll through their feeds and get familiar with what they offer. You could also potentially note other things that you could help them improve on or offer assistance on.
As you get more experienced with consultations this stuff comes naturally, but when you’re first starting, they best way to seem confident is to have really done your homework.
Make sure you make a summary of notes of all of the above so you can refer back to them and make sure you have talked about any important points.
If you tend to get nervous doing these types of things, it’s easy to forget what you wanted to say. Having notes makes it so much easier, you can stress less knowing that you can refer back to your notes at anytime if your brain goes blank.
And it’s absolutely fine to refer to your notes, again, this shows the client that you’re prepared for the call which comes across as organised and professional.
Take notes throughout your consultation. This probably seems like its a no-brainer, but it’s a lifesaver.
Especially when you get the clients that talk A LOT, and give you a lot of information. These clients are great, but if you can’t retain all of that information in your brain (which you probably can’t) then you need to be jotting down notes as you go.
Whether it’s in a google doc or old school with a pen and paper, either way, be ready to be taking notes. You will be SO thankful that you did.
When you’re finished with the call, continue to take notes. Write down as much as possible that you can remember from the conversation while it’s still fresh in your brain.
Then, when you go to draft a proposal or contract (which could be days later), you can refer back to those notes and personalize your message with all of their info, pain points, struggles and any other personal things that came up while you were talking, which will really show them that you were listening.
In your notes you should write down any questions you want to ask this client, because like I said above, it’s easy to forget things when you’re in a potentially stressing situation.
Along with having personalised questions for them based on the research you have performed, I also have a standard list of questions that I ask every client.
These may include questions like:
What is your ideal timeline for this project?
What is your budget for this project?
Make sure you have these written down so you don’t forget to ask.
These will be different depending on your industry/profession, but the more consultations you do, the more ‘standard’ questions you’ll add to your list.
Know your answers
If you’re new to this, you might not know what your most commonly asked questions will be yet. But a good way to prepare for these questions would be to think about your business and get familiar with every aspect of it.
They will mostly be questions about your business, like:
“Do you have an estimate for this project/how much will this cost?”
“Can you tell me a little bit more about your process?”
“What’s included in the package?”
Questions like these will be pretty common, and because it’s your business you’ll be expected to answer these confidently.
So get confident talking about your services and products, even if you're just starting out, you should know it like the back of your hand.
Answering questions about Prices can be a bit tricky if you do custom quotes for everyone, and clients usually understand this. I have a “starting at” price listed on my website for all of my packages, and if they ask in the consultation I usually just say something like,
“the price for this package starts at ___ and I see this project hitting pretty close to that number, or, I see this project going a little bit above that (etc), but I will need some more time to put a accurate quote together”
If they throw a surprise question at you that you just can’t answer without a bit of research, confidently tell them that you will look into it further and get back to them ASAP.
Say Yes more
“Say YES and figure the rest out later”
If someone asks you if you can do something for them that you haven’t done before, don’t make it a point to tell them that you haven’t done it before.
Almost everytime I talk to a new client, there’s a new challenge presented to me. Something that I haven’t done before, but know I can figure out and deliver on.
There’s a couple of reasons why I say to just say YES, even if it makes you a bit nervous:
Firstly, this is just the consultation. They haven’t signed or paid for anything yet. Confidently say yes while you’re in the consultation, then after it’s over do some more research into this thing that they want, and figure out if it’s really worth your time, if you will be able to actually do it or get someone else to do it. By doing it this way, you can always come back to them and say:
“actually, I’ve looked further into ____ and it’s just not something I can offer you at this time.”
Just make sure that you’re confident that you can figure it out before they put down any money.
Secondly, by saying yes and not hesitating on the subject your client will automatically feel more confident in you. If you beat around the bush, tell them that you’ve never done it and don’t have any idea how it works but could “maybe try”, they’re going to be reluctant to hire you.
Of course don’t straight up lie and tell them you’re a pro at it. You can tell them that you haven’t done it before, but follow that confidently up with “but I can definitely figure it out!”
Disclaimer on this: You have to know that you figure it out and do it well. I’m not telling you to say yes to something you know you’re going to be able to deliver on. In most instances, it’s a good opportunity to learn something new, but if it’s totally out of scope of what you can do or what you want to be doing, just confidently say no 😉
A couple of extra tips
Put your computer on the charger - sometimes these meetings go for wayy longer than you expect, and you don’t want to have to excuse yourself to go plug your charger in!
Go to a quiet room - don’t go to a public area with ambient noise. Just because you can hear your client, doesn’t mean that they can hear you over the people in the cafe you’re sitting in.
Close all of your programs and internet tabs - this can slow down your computer or internet, and can be distracting if you’ve got emails coming in or notifications popping up.
Tell everyone what you’re doing - so you don’t get disturbed!
And one final tip for virtual consultations: business on the top, party on the bottom, always!