5 Primary Questions to Ask a Potential Client
Who am I? I’m Allan, a designer who went from freelancer who was grinding out a meager living to co-founding a highly profitable web shop, now we build our own apps, we host conferences and workshops.
In order to accurately discern which potential clients should earn the time and focus of your company, it’s essential to employ the art of qualifying leads.
Qualifying is the act of determining which projects are the right fit for you. You do this by collecting some key information (from yourself and the potential client) and then gauging whether the endeavor is worth your while–with respect to the data collected.
Hopefully you’re able to determine some very important things:
- Is the project something you would want to work on?
- Is the potential client someone you could get along with?
- Do the expectations of the potential client align with how you work?
- Can the potential client afford you?
Shouldn’t I be taking anything I can get?
Some people believe that qualifying leads eventually translates into lost sales, and they’re right. If you have very few leads and lots of time, it’s probably best not to worry about asking these questions and rather, spend more time trying to make each sale. As your business grows, you’ll learn to throttle your project base by being more picky with who you choose to work with (as well as what you decide to charge).
Below are 5 crucial questions to ask potential clients in order to decide if a given project
is right for you.
1. Is this your first launch?
This question is all about expectations. If you learn that the potential client has never launched (or run) a project like this before, you may find yourself holding their hand a little bit more through the process, or having to lower your expectations a bit.
2. Describe your project in 3 sentences.
If someone can’t describe their idea clearly, you can bet that the project (and the relationship) is going to be rocky, to say the least. Perhaps in the earlier stages of your business you can afford to dream a little with a client, but as your company progresses, you’ll find this potential client become less and less appealing. Clients that are in the “dreamers phase” haven’t thought about cost and execution. They’re still in love with their special idea and you’ll have to wake them up, bringing them into reality.
3. What is your budget for the project?
This is the only question that really matters. Can they afford you? If they can’t afford you do any of the other answers matter? Do not waste time with people that cannot afford you. You’re a business, you have expenses, you cannot spend time on leads that don’t have funds. Do NOT move this lead into a phone call unless they can indicate they have money.
4. Are you in need of a designer in addition to a developer?
You may have a preference (or a strong preference if you’re like us) about whether or not you mind exclusively designing projects, developing projects, or both. Ask this question to determine what level of involvement the potential client has in mind for you. Get all cards out on the table now, in the beginning.
5. Who is your host?
This question probably doesn’t translate to other industries or maybe it does. Interestingly, this final question is a somewhat veiled attempt to learn what the potential client’s level of technical understanding is. If you discover that that lack of technical knowledge is present, you’ll want to tweak your approach to accommodate that.
Most small web shops and freelancers aren’t able to have a full-time person devoted to sales, so it’s often up to the developer to decide how to go about selling a client on their service. It goes without saying that most web shops are also without an entire department devoted to analyzing leads and conducting multiple interviews with a potential clients before starting on their project, so if you can qualify the right lead by asking these questions, you’ll find you’re spending your time and energy effectively rather than wastefully.
For those of you that will be in the Tampa Florida area in June, consider attending the Less Money Conference. Attending this workshop will give you hands on information about the business side of freelancing and growing a web consultancy.