make your projects run smoother

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to quickly understand, when talking to potential new clients, if they’re worth your time or if you’re simply not the right freelancer for them? That’s why we prepared these standard questions you can ask everyone who gets in touch with you – you’ll get a quick idea if you’re the right fit or not.

We’ve had contacts that simply ignored the questions we were asking them, when sent by email, and others that had obviously paid little to no attention when answering, these examples were right away huge red flags. Someone that doesn’t invest the time to provide you enough information about a project, isn’t going to make any efforts into trying to understand your work.

So, we’ve set up a questionnaire that helps us understand if we’re the right freelancer to a new potential client, and his or hers needs. This is just something to get the conversation started, you’ll need to follow-up with more detailed questions for each case. The more information you can gather, the smoother your projects will run.

  • You have those basic ones that you need to ask right away.
  • What’s the name of the business?
  • Is it a new one? If not, for how many years has it been active?
  • Where is it located? Is it just online?

Then we have those a bit more specific, that will give you better insights.

“How is your business structured, and how do you profit?”

This one will tell you the services/products the business deals with, it will also tell you if you’re dealing with a small company or something bigger. It’s really different to work with a 3-person company, where you’ll probably have 2 involved in the project, or a multinational where you’ll have to answer to a board of directors of this and that.

“Is this a new project, or a re-do?”

If it’s a new project, you’ll have a blank canvas to work with. If it’s a re-do or a refinement of a previous project your client might have some pre-conceived ideas, some expectations of the final outcome. If so, ask to see the previous developed work.

“Who will be working with me?”

The perfect answer to this question is that you’d be working with the person that makes the final decisions. This usual happens when dealing with small companies, but with bigger ones your work will probably be passing trough some gates before arriving to the final decision maker. Be aware if you come across a company that has equal partners, different people will have different opinions and if you’re dealing with 2 persons that have equal power it can become difficult.

“What is your deadline, and why?”

Most clients will tell you that they need the project done ASAP, this in most cases doesn’t really says anything. You need proper dates, and specific reasons. If you’re going to be working for something that has strict deadlines, something for a trade show or a new product release for example you’ll need to know – you might need to allocate time from other projects to meet these dates. If the deadline is just purely unrealistic try to explain you need time to get your work done properly instead of rushing it and make unnecessary mistakes.

“Who is your target?”

Remember you’re working for your client’s customers, and you’ll need to explain that to your client as well. Your or your client’s personal taste should not have a strong role in the project – unless it’s aligned with it. To work for a specific demographic you need to know who they are, what they do, what they like. The more info, the better.

“Who are your competitors?”

This probably something you can Google yourself – BUT there might be some relevant ones that are obvious to your client and you might not come across them. If the project in hands is highly commercial, you need to see it as a game, in a game there are winners and there are losers – you need to know who you need to beat.

These are just some standard questions that we’ve been using over the years. We’ve also noticed other designers/creatives in general mentioning similar ones. Take control of the conversation right from the start and make your projects run smoother to better results!

How can you present these questions to your potential clients? That’s up to you!

We’ve created a Word document for clients to fill-in (everyone knows how to handle Word). You might prefer to do them during a call, just remember to take notes because you’ll need to consult this information multiple times. Others have them on their website that’s cool too. As long as you get them answered and documented you’re good to go.

You’ll need to ask follow-up questions. And answers that were clearly rushed show that the person you’re dealing with isn’t that serious into working with you, these are huge red flags.

published on 13.09.2019

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