A lot goes into signing a new client. From your initial point of contact and sharing your portfolio to submitting a proposal and outlining deliverables and timelines, trust is earned in every interaction. The difference between the person that earns the project and those that don’t oftentimes comes down to who instilled the most confidence in the client.
If you are not actively showing that you’re capable, attentive, and responsive from the start of new project discussions, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Here are four baseline meetings to have in the first 30 days of every new client relationship:
Discovery Call (pre-commitment)
Offering a complimentary discovery call shows that you’re committed to listening to your prospective client and getting to know their needs. It might sound obvious, but we’ve seen many freelancers bypass this offering.
Sure, you’ve read through the RFP and emailed questions might feel more convenient, but taking a few minutes to put a face and personality to your name will go a long way. Especially since there’s a good chance that you are one of several contenders a brand is vetting to fulfill their needs. Make your name a memorable one.
Proposal Q&A (pre-commitment)
You’ve reviewed the RFP, had a discovery call and submitted a well-informed, personalized project proposal. Now, the brand is weighing its options, budgets, and timelines. Follow your proposal submission with an offer to jump on a call once they review it. This way, you can rule out the chance of being overlooked due to misunderstandings or unanswered questions.
Your prospective client is looking for someone to make their job easier, so take the time to show that you are up for the task by offering this follow-up before they even consider it themselves.
Partnership Kick-Off (week 1)
You’ve earned the project and it’s time to get into the work! While pre-agreement conversations have ensured alignment on goals and logistics, the kick-off call is where you start to really dig into specific questions that will inform the action steps as you start to work your magic.
Use this call to confirm project expectations with any stakeholders involved and start digging into the client’s related efforts to date, challenges/successes, existing brand identity, tone of voice, target audience knowledge, and get access to any platforms that will help you do your job.
You may consider sending a questionnaire over before the kick-off call to get your client thinking through some of these topics, allowing you to make the most of your time together on the call. Whenever you can help prepare your client in advance and avoid blind sighting with on-the-spot questions, your job will become that much easier.
Check-In (week 2)
When it comes to check-ins, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Your check-in cadence may vary depending on the type of project, what phase you’re at, and the needs of each particular client. In the first 30 days of the partnership, however, it’s important to set a reliable and responsive tone as you and your new client get to know each other and your work style.
Schedule a check-in for the week after kick-off to answer any new questions that have come up and update your client on your progress and next steps between now and your next touch-base. So much unease in new relationships comes from a lack of communication, so this early check-in allows for assurance that they are in great hands.
Trusting someone new with part of your business can be scary, especially when they aren’t part of your internal team. At the end of the day, freelancers that take the initiative to instill confidence in new clients are more likely to maintain successful client relationships.