The 3 C’s of a Client Consultation: Clarity, Confidence and Consistency

By Drew Palmer, Contributor, on January 9, 2017

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We’re not taking you back to school, but any good client consultation requires the three C’s: clarity, confidence and consistency. By the time you find yourself face-to-face with a prospective job or client, they’ll likely already have formed an idea of what it is you do. In my experience, this idea is often wrong. After spending the first part of my career as a freelance “graphic designer,” I was asked to do anything ranging from wedding photography to fixing computers.

But it goes beyond simple definitions and parameters. We know first impressions are important, but when a freelance contract is on the line, you have to get them down to a science.

1. Clarity

Your first job during a consultation is to narrow your client’s point of view on what it is you do, because it will likely run the gamut. What is it you do? Why do businesses need it? Bring case studies and cite examples of how your work has improved businesses and solved problems. This will set you up for the next part of the client consultation.

Don’t just design the product: Design the process. After you’ve outlined your client’s needs and validated yourself as a creative professional, make sure your client understands exactly how the creative process will roll out. This can look however you want it to look, but make sure you set clear milestones and deliverables. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a dreaded “never-ending project.”

Be candid with your client and create opportunities for them to weigh in frequently. The more you make them feel involved, the more they’ll feel like they paid for a valuable service. This also eliminates having to course-correct at the end of the project.

2. Confidence

We tend to think that if we charge too much, we’ll lose business. But if we charge too little, people won’t take us seriously.

You want to be realistic, but you also want it to be sustainable enough for you to live on. If you charge more, you’ll attract the right type of clients. If you charge too little, you’ll attract the wrong clients. A low budget will inevitably equal low expectations, so don’t settle for less than you’re worth!

Chances are, if your client says they can only afford to pay you [insert small figure here], then this project was an afterthought. From the start, you know they don’t value the service you provide. Do you really want to work for a client who doesn’t value what you do for a living? If you consistently price your services too low, these are the types of projects you’ll attract.

Charging at a higher price point filters out those who don’t value your creative services. You’ll attract quality clients who are serious about the work you do and value your expertise. These are the clients you want asking you for quotes. When they do, you should be prepared to demonstrate a high level of expertise and experience.

3. Consistency

Own your client consultation. Your client asked for a consultation because they think you’re the expert, so show them you are every time you walk into a meeting with them. Having a well-structured meeting and laying out a clear process time and time again is habit forming, and it won’t go unnoticed. The more consistent you are in your pitch and delivery, the more confident you’ll be each time you walk in.

As a freelancer, you might be called “artsy” or a “visionary.” It’s your job to show your prospects that you’re also incredibly buttoned-up. Prove to them that your creative process isn’t ideas on a wall — it’s a well-oiled machine that churns out business-changing products time and time again.

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