Client Meeting Cheat Sheet

In middle school one of my social studies teachers allowed us to use a cheat sheet during tests–he told us we could have a one page cheat sheet with however much information we could fit on one page, front and back. Overachiever that I am, I created a typed student cheat sheet, printed with small, fine, type on both sides. In the margins I wrote additional information in by hand, to cram in as much as possible.

I didn’t have the class until the middle of the day. The morning of the test I showed my cheat sheet to several of my classmates before homeroom. Needless to say, they were impressed. By lunch I was making copies of my cheat sheet for half the class.

While I don’t have written tests to pass as a freelancer (at least, not the same sort), there are still critical moments where knowing what to say or how to handle a situation can make the difference between landing a client and losing business. So, just like I did in junior high, I make a cheat sheet while preparing for important client calls or meetings.

My prep work includes reviewing key books that I find helpful on freelancing, general research (aka a Google search) on that client in particular, and any general stats or info I can find about their industry. Below is some “cheat sheet” information I compiled this week when prepping for a meeting with a potential client. I’ll review this list immediately before my meeting to “brush up” and I’ll keep it handy during our phone call, in case I need to reference it quickly for a smart response to one of her points.

Sales Pointers

Assume the sale – “When can I get that information from you?” “Would you like me to proofread this project, or will someone on your staff do it?

Take a “we” attitude to convey interest in a client’s goals & success (when we do X…)

Stress “at no extra cost,” “at your convenience” and “with your approval”

Talk in terms of Advantages rather than Benefits:
An Advantage — I work with several web designers
A Benefit — I have already checked them out and know they are reliable

Overcome Objections

Try to anticipate objections: IF they say, “Our policy manual is too complex for an outsider to grasp.” respond, “I can understand how you might think that but…”
“It’s true I haven’t done X before, I will bring a fresh perspective to this project because of my other experience (doing X).”

Convert objections into questions: IF they say, “Four weeks is too long for this project.” Respond, “How can we plan the job differently so we can get it out faster?” (they will solve their own objection)

Ask if there are any other objections – “Other than that, would you want me to do this job?” (If price wasn’t an issue, would you want me to do this job?) to find sticking points.

Pricing a Project

Ask for the sale: “Id like to do this job for you. Can we work together on it?” OR “Shall I start working on this?” “Is that price within your budget?”

When quoting a price, say “X project would probably cost between X and Y.” If it’s too much, discuss what price range they can afford and what you can do within their budget (either get MORE or do LESS).

If you are worried a decision will be reached without you present, say, “I think X is a fair price on this job but I’m willing to discuss it. I think (Key benefit) would be helpful to you on this job, so if price is a problem call me before you make a decision. Will you do that?

If you have to come down on a price, NEVER just cut the price–give a reason. “I recently had a big job fall through, so I have some extra time…” or “I am trying to get more clients in your industry.”

How do you prep for client meetings? Do you have any tips I should add to my cheat sheet?

*[Information compiled from Secrets of a Freelance Writer by Robert Bly and How to Start a Home-based Writing Business by Lucy V. Parker. Image credit: ToastyKen]

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