No matter what business you are in, a critical part of getting new business is that all-important client interview. That conversation you have with potential clients showing them you have what it takes to do their work and would welcome the opportunity to work with them. This is done in a number of ways; over the phone, via email or instant messaging, or in person. It doesn’t really matter how it’s done; the most important thing is that it’s done, and done well.
Why are client interviews so important? They are vital because the decision to do business with you is often made either during the interview or shortly thereafter. That’s why it is so critical to master interview techniques. Keep in mind, potential clients may only know about you by what they have heard or seen online. So, this is your opportunity to show them all your strengths and why you are perfect for them.
Here are tips for mastering the client interview:
Be prepared – Before the interview you need to do your homework. First, review their site to become as familiar as you can with their company. Do more than a cursory review; truly spend some time to see who they are, what they stand for, and most importantly how you feel you can help. Also, do some research about them on social media via their Facebook accounts, Twitter, and LinkedIn. What does it tell you about them?
By knowing more about them in advance of your meeting, you can better determine what their needs might be and develop a clear direction for your discussions with them. You can then connect the dots and can see how you can best help them. In fact, you might even see areas where you can help them that they aren’t even aware of yet.
Show them what you’ve got – Point them to your website where they can find more information, but do more than just say–go to my website and read about me. Direct them to the exact place on your site that has the information speaking directly to them. It could be your services page, but be clear even regarding that. Point out the specific services you truly feel they need. Also, by doing your homework in the first step and being prepared, you have the opportunity to show them those extra services they might not yet have discovered that you know will be a true value to them.
Ask Questions – Have a set of questions prepared to ask potential clients. Of course, you don’t want to be asking questions just to ask questions; you truly want to use this time to understand them better. Clients truly appreciate when you ask the right questions because it shows you are coming to the interview prepared. If you are well prepared and organized from the very first meeting, they will feel you will always be this forthcoming throughout the relationship.
Follow-up – Yes, the follow-up comes after the initial call or meeting, but be sure to make it clear how that will happen. For example, “I will connect with you next Tuesday again to see if you need anything else.” Now it might feel like you are being pushy, but honestly, it will have the opposite effect. This creates an action step and oftentimes will cause them to act promptly instead of putting it off so that they can be prepared for your follow-up call or email.
Additionally, your meeting gives clients the opportunity to see your personality and the real you. So be professional, but let your personality shine through. The sense of confidence you show will have more of your potential clients saying, “Yes, I want to work with her; where do I sign?”