The first meeting with a client is crucial. Making a good impression and setting the tone for the relationship should be priority. In the initial meetings, you’ll work with your client to develop a strategy and then a game plan.
Here are three tips for your next strategy meeting:
1. Ask “Why?” 5 Times
Many clients when you sit down with them have a great sense of the in’s and out’s of their business. Problems arise with clients and they will seek out a creative firm- perhaps it’s a marketing issue or positioning issue or an even deeper issue that the client can’t articulate. Usually, the client will seek out the creative firm that specializes in what they believe to be the solution.
“We need a new website!” (Google search for Web Design firm).
“We need a new landing page video!” (Google search for Video Production firm).
For the sake of example, a client has recently booked an initial meeting with your firm and they present their problem. Then, they proceed to self-diagnose: “We aren’t attracting enough views to the website because it’s boring and we need YOU to make us a landing page video,” the Client says. What most firms will respond goes something like this: “Yes, I see what you mean. We too think a new video will do just the trick. Let’s start planning the video.”
Rather than letting the patient self-diagnose and tell you what prescription they’d like, instead, begin to ask the first “Why?” question.
“Perhaps you’re right about a landing page video. Why do you believe a new landing page video will attract more views to your website?”
The Client answers with a very logical answer.
Ask “Why?” to that logical answer. Keep asking “Why?”
The more “Why?” questions you ask, the deeper the issue goes thus revealing the true nature of the problem.
Learn to ask better questions that get to the heart of the real issue. Only from there, can you truly help your client.
2. Don’t Interrupt the Client
This second tip isn’t so much about manners but more so about what it reveals about how you feel about the client. When the client speaks, you listen. You continue to ask penetrating questions about their business, but after that, shut up and listen.
Interrupting the client shows that
1) you’re not listening to what they have to say
2) that you lack patience.
In conversation, half of the time, we listen to the other person and the other half, we think about what we’re going to say next. Many of us only think about what we want to say next. When you’re speaking with the client, especially for the first time, you want to be the best listener possible.
Interrupting the client shows that 1) you’re not listening to what they have to say and 2) that you lack patience. We are here to serve the client. Develop that serving mentality. We should be making the client feel listened to, appreciated, and understood. It is a rare occasion for business owners to feel this from another firm.
Your client relationships should be associated with good feelings and a sense of appreciation. These good vibes will lead to your clients actually wanting to engage with your firm more and more- instead of avoiding you.
3. Remove Your Bias
We briefly mentioned bias in Tip #1 by letting the client self-diagnose themselves into your wheelhouse. As a filmmaker, yes video production is my specialty, but it’s unfair to force my preferences onto the client.
The appropriate course of action is to honestly understand a client’s problem and try to help them solve it. If a client doesn’t truly need your services, then it’s more beneficial to your firm that you recommend the actual solution. Nothing can jeopardize your firm’s reputation more than taking on a client to give them the wrong solution. We are not vacuum salesmen. Everyone does not need a vacuum. This is what separates serving from selling. We are not selling the client anything. We are here to help them.
Sometimes you have to say in the initial meeting that your firm may not be the best firm for this problem, but would be happy to give some recommendations.
Your clients will respect the fact that you haven’t take advantage of them, and this third tip will reward your firm many times over in reputation and client relations.
Written by Jordan P. Anderson
Jordan P. Anderson is a cinematographer and content strategist based out of the Washington, D.C. area. Jordan takes on projects by first understanding a client’s business and their needs as a company. Knowing the core strategy, Jordan is able to produce effective and compelling video content to help solve the client’s pain points. In total, Jordan has worked on over 400 videos and campaigns aimed at solving his client’s problems.