The answer to this question could vary wildly depending on the nature of the project, and even more critically the size of client you’re working with. To this end, I’ll be focusing on the smaller scale of things. These are projects that don’t require hundreds of hurdles to jump and procurement process headaches. Basically the type of project your typical small agency will be working on.
I have a lead, now what?
Great stuff, there’s something rather validating in your business when you have real life clients and projects to quote on. But I can tell you now — things get even more satisfying when you are given the nod on a project. Below are some simple steps that will go a long way to helping you get just that.
1. Be easy to communicate with
This covers a gamut of things; from how easy it is for a prospective client to get hold of you, whether it be emails or calls — to the way you speak and language used. We live in an era where it has never been easier for us to speak with each other, so use this to your advantage. There have been a number of projects I have won by responding to queries outside of conventional “working hours”. I’m not advocating never switching off from work, but simply being clever about how and when you respond.
It’s all well and good, replying to a question quickly but you need to make sure there is some substance behind it. You want your tone to be straightforward and polite. Keep things light and don’t go trying to intimidate people with the latest industry jargon. The prospective client simply wants some reassurance that you will be able to deliver the project. And don’t forget: please double check your email before sending back. I’ve learnt the hard way when I’ve either not corrected typos, or complete sentences not making any sense or shock horror, mispelling their name!
2. Think about every touch point
First of all, you may ask. What is a touch point? In this context, I think of it as every place a prospect will come into contact with your brand. Make sure there is a consistency across everything. The number of times I have seen companies have different versions of their logo used on emails compared to their website! Something as simple and easy to sort as that should never happen. Period.
Make sure your quote looks as professional as the work you produce. It’s all well and good emailing over a quick estimate and figures to a regular client. Don’t get lazy with prospective ones though. Instead, take the time to send through a branded quote or proposal. If you haven’t already got one, then take the time to put together one now that you can use as a template. It will help you get more efficient and professional going forward.
3. Know your value
Don’t buckle at the first sign of someone questioning your fees. You’ve decided upon your hourly rate for a reason, so don’t just instinctively offer a discount because someone asked. It’s not to say that lowering your fee will help secure a project. It sometimes will. More often than not though, these are the projects and clients you’ll be reading and sniggering about on clients from hell!
4. Be likeable
This is a sweeping statement but cannot be over emphasised. We work in an industry where we’re producing work for people, with people. So make sure you’re someone people will enjoy the whole process with. It also goes a long way in helping to make sure that you’ll enjoy it the other way — having a likeable client.