In a previous post, we spoke about the importance of digging deeper to understand what your clients want. It turns out that most of them don’t really know what they need, and they’re often incorrect about what they say they need. It’s your job as an agency or freelancer to figure it out.
When I first started out as a freelance designer, I used to jump at every opportunity that came my way. The prospect of money made me say yes to everything the client asked for. I’d get straight to designing without asking them any questions or trying to understand why they wanted a redesign or why they wanted something a certain way. As a result, when clients turned down my proposals or designs, I’d often end up scratching my head in confusion.
What an amateur!
It took me a while to realize that as a designer, my job is not to simply recreate a client’s vision. It’s to understand what the client really needs and then to use my creative freedom to design something that solves the need. To get a better understanding of their needs, I’d always ask these questions during client interviews –
Why Do You Need A New Design?
When clients come to you, they typically need a new eCommerce store designed, or a redesign of an existing store. The first question you need to ask is why.
Now you may think the answer is obvious. After all, if they are starting a new eCommerce business, they’re obviously going to want a design to go with it. However, you might be surprised at the answers they give. Many people think a bad product can be covered up with good design, and if they expect you to solve their sales problems, you need to know this at the start!
What Is Your End Goal?
To follow up with the why, you want to be crystal clear on what the client expects from you. If they’re looking for a magic bullet to solve their sales, it could be a red flag!
Typically, they’re hoping that a new design can help engage visitors, present their products better, and increase overall website conversions. That’s a reasonable expectation you can work with, and you can build your proposals around that. When presenting your solution to clients, be sure to explain why you did what you did and how it helps their conversions or other end goals.
What Are Your Success Metrics?
The problem with website redesigns is you never know if it’s working or not unless you measure. You want to make sure your client is happy so that they come back for your services and tell others about it. That’s why you need to be clear right from the start on what constitutes a success for them.
For example, if your redesign helped them double conversions while they expected you to triple it, they’re not going to think of it as a success. No matter that your work brought them more sales, they will still count it as a failure. However, if you have already worked out reasonable success metrics before the project, you can avoid this and focus on real gains.
What Are Your Biggest Concerns?
Here’s a bitter truth – No one is ever eager to pay you money. There will always be concerns, doubts and objections before they pull the trigger. By figuring out what these are, you accomplish two things. First, you can find a way to get around them and close the deal. Second, you make your client feel better and more comfortable working with you.
Typical concerns are that things don’t work out the way they want it to, or that their investment doesn’t pay off. Sometimes clients want to have some control over the process and be involved in every stage. By being transparent and explaining how you ensure success, you can ease their concerns.
What Will Happen If This Project Doesn’t Go Through?
This is a great follow-up question because it makes the client focus on the negative aspects of not hiring you. It’s almost the flip-side of what their end goal is, but it also puts their concerns in perspective.
So if a client doesn’t know if their investment will pay off, but they accept that without the project their conversions will never increase, then it becomes a no-brainer to go through with it. Especially if you have quality assurance processes that ensure the project will be a success as defined earlier.
What Is Your Budget?
This is the best point to bring up the budget question. When I started off as a designer, this would be my first question and my first mistake because it forces the client to think about money instead of the value I bring.
However, if you’ve gone through the previous questions, identified why they want the project, allayed their concerns, and put into perspective what happens if the project doesn’t go through, then the budget question becomes a formality. Hopefully, at this point, the client understands your value and how you can bring them success, and they should be ready to invest in it.
You also don’t want to throw out a quote before hearing what the client’s budget is because you might risk scaring them away if it’s above budget. However, by getting an idea of what their budget is first, you could always explain to them why it would take more than that and either get them to increase their budget or to reduce the scope of the project.
How Did You Hear About Us?
The previous questions should be enough for you to form a better idea of what your client wants and to close the deal. Of course, you always want more clients like this, so ask them how they heard about you. If you know what brought them to you, you can do more of that and increase your client base.
Start Asking Questions
As you can see, asking questions before you send a proposal or begin a project helps you understand your clients’ needs better. This makes them more comfortable with you and also allows you to make sure there are no unrealistic expectations that could torpedo the project later.
What are some questions you ask during client interviews? Let us know in the comments below!