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    The two things people forget when trying to close a new client

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    Meeting with a new client can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. Some see it as something similar to a job interview. However, that’s far from the case.

    For most self-employed individuals, the client is already interested in what you can provide. They’ve read, heard, watched, seen, or otherwise experienced what you can do. Some have already paid you for work.

    This article goes over how to best manage meetings with new and potential clients. It looks at how building rapport and asking questions will gain and retain clients.

    Build rapport

    You’re passionate about your business. And you may want to tell the other person how satisfied your current clients are and how great your work is the very second the conversation starts. But take a pause. Building rapport can be as crucial as naming every Fortune 500 company or celebrity that you’ve worked with.

    Instead of getting right down to the point, start with some small talk — no matter how much you hate it. This can set a friendlier tone and even bring your nerves down. Building rapport establishes a relationship between you and the potential client. A relationship that’s worth more than your work history.

    Two of these penguins are building rapport. One is not.

    One of the best ways to establish rapport is through mutual connections or interests. A quick glance at their LinkedIn or Twitter profile may reveal that the other person knows your cousin or that you both share a love for corgis. There’s a fine line here — don’t be too creepy. All you need is a brief look at their public Twitter or LinkedIn. Don’t bring up items on their personal Facebook account or that blog they haven’t touched in five years.

    If there’s nothing on their social media profiles to work with, try talking about their hometown or current city. You could chat about their sports teams, how the weather compares, or any connections you may have to their city. Most people won’t care that your boyfriend’s brother works in California. But for all you know, the client may have a connection to that company. Better yet, they may even know your boyfriend’s brother.

    The last important point on rapport is knowing when to end. The person on the other side often has a million other tasks to do or they’re paying you by the hour, so you shouldn’t waste their time. Limit rapport building to five minutes, or until it naturally comes to a close.

    Ask questions

    Asking the potential client the right questions is even more important than articulating your skills. It’s common that clients don’t know what they want and clarifying this can make you seem more credible. Even more critical is that it may reveal the client wants something completely different than what you have to offer.

    If someone is seeking your help, it means they have a problem. If they’re looking for a logo redesign or a new website, ask why. I.e., What is the goal of their logo or website redesign? If they want to build a digital presence, you could upsell them on social media services. Alternatively, you could discover that the kind of website they want is too simple or complex for your skill set and reject their business altogether.

    Similar to building rapport, know when to stop asking questions. Understanding their problem is essential. But they may find you nosy if you’re asking too many questions or questions that aren’t relevant. This could make them feel uncomfortable working with you in the future.

    Building rapport and asking questions when meeting a potential client are two things people forget about. But these parts of a sales call are crucial to closing new deals and making sure the client provides return business. Both of these things help develop a relationship with you and the other person and builds your credibility.

    Originally published June 3, 2019, updated August 25, 2023

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