3 Questions You Can Ask to Get More Freelance Work

How many meetings do you take your portfolio, or a presentation of your work along to?

Why are you still bothering?

If you want to increase the number of new clients you get, you need to change your approach to first meetings with clients. And here’s why:

When you spend your first meeting with a potential client presenting your work, you’re only talking about yourself. And the only person who wants to talk about you is you (and maybe your mom). So stop.

Instead, purpose your meetings towards getting your prospect to open up about themselves, their business, and their challenges.

With a little practice, you shouldn’t find this too hard, and you’ll win lots more work using it.

Below I’ve put together three questions that you can use to keep the conversation on track and get the info you need for a winning proposal.

If you’re interested in learning more about winning clients at your first meeting, I’ve put together the ‘First Meeting Success Formula’, which you can grab a free copy here

Question 1: Where are you now?

This is a great question to start off with. You should have some idea about what the company does before the meeting, so the object of this question is to get more detail about it from an insider’s perspective.

It works best if you give them a little more context to start off with, for example:

“I see that XCompany has tripled in size over the last two years, that’s quite impressive – how did you achieve that?”

You want to get a sense for what the client has tried, what has worked and what failed, so that you don’t waste time. It’s useful to gather some of their likes and dislikes, anything that could help you personalise your proposal.

You should also to look out for information on how the company works, their size, budget, brand style, day-to-day challenges, and expectations.

All this gives you the context in which to frame your proposal.

Question 2: Where do you want to be?

Now you want to start to bring the conversation towards the project at hand.

This second question helps to put the it into to the context of the business as a whole – why do they have a need for this project? And why is it important to them?

It may also bring out some other areas you could help in, which are not directly connected to your project. These can be a powerful tool in winning you clients.

You should give them a specific scope, or time-frame to keep it relevant to your project.

For example,

“Where do you want your website to be 6 months from now?”

Your prospect may say something like,

“We’re trying to double the time visitors spend on the site by December”.

Later, you can refer back to these in your proposal as tangible benefits related to the wider business.

So instead of the quite uninteresting, “I’ll design you a good-looking new website”, you can say:

“I’ll design you a website that’s optimised to increase the time visitors spend on your site.“

Do you see why the second might be more compelling to a potential client?

You’re not just giving them a product, you’re giving them a real benefit to their business.

By taking the things that you know they want and demonstrating you can help them achieve it, you’re massively improving your chances of winning the client.

You can get your free copy of my guide ‘The First Meeting Success Formula’ for more great tips on winning business by clicking here.

Question 3: What challenges are in the way?

In reality, this question often naturally becomes entwined with the answers from question two, and you should encourage this.

The aim is to get an idea of what issues they’re currently having, or expecting to have, with a view to how you can help.

This could be wider company goals, such as profit or growth, or specific challenges related to the project itself.

You may discover that their sales are falling because of high website bounce rates. Or it may be that they can’t hire a full-time staff member due to budget issues.

Whatever it is, you may be able to use it as leverage in your proposal, as with the answers to question two. Except that question three should help you to establish the immediate issues they’re having.

Imagine your client has just answered question two with,

“We’re trying to double the time visitors spend on the site by December”.

You follow up with question three framed as,

“What obstacles can you see to doubling the time visitors spend on your site?”

Their reply may be something like,

“We’re getting a high bounce rate from mobile users.”

Later in your official proposal you can bring all their answers together:

“I’ll design you a website that is mobile-optimised, which will reduce bounce rates and help increase the time visitors spend on your site.“

This is so much more powerful than simply proposing a design to a client.

Shut Up and Listen

These questions can become an incredibly powerful technique when used properly.

It’s not hard to see why.

You’re getting your potential client to scope out the project for you, and tell you why it’s important to them. With that information, you can put together a winning proposal almost every time.

One of the keys to a successful client meeting, and using these questions effectively, is to just shut up and let them talk.

Don’t be afraid to clarify things you think may be important. But let them talk!

As they do, narrow down their answers into THREE main objectives you can relate to the project. When they’re finished, repeat these three objectives back to them.

Get them to confirm that those are their most pressing issues. And then use that as your base to scope out the project with them right there and then.

Once you have it, you’ll leave your preliminary meetings with the bulk of your proposal ready!

Would you like to know more about winning clients at the first meeting? If you do, I’ve put together a mini-guide you can download for free here.

Want to know the next steps to writing a winning proposal? Download your FREE Guide to First Meeting Success here.

 

2 Replies to “3 Questions You Can Ask to Get More Freelance Work”

  1. I agree with your inquiry into where the client is now, where they want to be, and what challenges are in the way. But I disagree with not talking about yourself and showing examples of work. If the client is new, they need to be given confidence that you know your stuff, and have work to back it up. When they have this confidence, and can envision themselves in the work you are showing, then they will really open up to meaningful discussion about their needs. So you can talk about yourself, and show work, but make sure that what you are saying and showing is relevant to them. This requires doing some research and knowing a little bit about why they are meeting with you. If you can show relevant work, and the thinking behind it, the client will get excited about working with you. But to your point, it is still all about the client, not about you. Even when you are talking about yourself, you are doing so in the context of the client and their needs.

    1. Hi Wes, thanks for your comment. I agree with you 100% that a potential client needs to be given confidence that you know your stuff. I would suggest however, that it is possible to give them that confidence by demonstrating a thorough understanding of their business problems.

      Perhaps a good way of combining these ideas would be to show a relevant piece of your previous work, as an example of the kind of solution you would deliver?

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