Join Sean Adams for an in-depth discussion in this video First contact: Selling yourself, part of Running a Design Business: Selling Design to Clients.
- Let's start after the potential client has heard about you and seen your well organized and clear website. He or she liked the work and thought you might be able to work on their project. But she also likes several other designer sites and is considering working with them. How do you make sure you stand out and get the project? Good work is sadly not enough. I've always considered good work to be like wheels on a car. We expect them. It's not a huge selling point. You need to emphasize other assets.
Before trying to stand out by sending donuts or a dozen balloons to the client, stop and consider what would you want? If you were hiring an architect to work on your house, what would make you decide "I'll work with Mildred, not Zachary"? You probably like both architects' work. They both seem professional and capable. But Mildred's website is easier to use. Her language is simple and friendly. Zachary's was more complicated and the language was dense and read like an architectural journal.
After every consideration, you chose Mildred, because she seemed to be the kind of architect who would work with you. She'd listen to your concerns and treat them with respect. And she just seemed friendlier. It's your first job as a graphic designer, to make sure you are communicating professionalism, skill, experience, and a willingness to collaborate. Any sense of being a prima donna, or difficult will scare the potential client away.
Your brand should be communicating the opposite from your website, to promotional materials, to the initial conversation. Now the client wants to talk. Do it on the phone, not email. A human voice makes a huge difference. Email is too easy to dismiss and you are just another designer with no personal connection. Before the telephone call or meeting, do your homework. Find out what you can about the client, or company, so that you can have a point of reference during your conversation.
Many designers start by listing everything they've done and why they are the best. I find it better to start with the client's needs. I ask questions, such as What is the project? What made you decide to do this, right now? What is working and what is not, right now? What is the timeframe? Will I be working with you as the contact and decision maker? And finally, and nobody likes to ask this, Do you have a budget in mind? The answers to these will help you determine if the project is right for you.
Remember, it's two-way street. You are interviewing the client as well. You don't want to work with a jerk, or on a project that has no time to succeed, or a budget that is too small to make a profit. The client now has the understanding that you are interested in their organization and its success. You haven't portrayed that this project will be another one that you do your way, to add to your portfolio. Now, set-up a time and plan a meeting with the client, face-to-face, if possible.
It's time to talk about your past experience and how it's applicable to this project.
Instructor Sean Adams shows how to begin a working relationship with a potential client, explaining how to sell yourself, present previous projects, and set appropriate expectations. He also provides tips for communicating during the design phase, crafting and delivering an impactful presentation, and dealing with a variety of common conflicts. In addition, he discusses how to maintain lasting relationships with clients, create more work, and determine when it's time to part ways with a client.
- First contact
- Setting expectations
- Beginning the work
- Developing criteria for approval
- Communication during the design phase
- Crafting and delivering a presentation
- Dealing with conflict
- Clients who want to play designer
- When a client plays mix and match with a solution
- Choosing your battles
- Maintaining a relationship over time
- Determining when to end a client relationship