Common Mistakes: Not Knowing When to Keep Your Big Mouth Shut

The art of meeting a new client is never an exact science, yet it’s one of the most important parts of our business.  I always remind myself the simple truth that without a client we do not have a business.

In that first meeting with your client, what you say and what you DON’T SAY is equally important. I have been guilty of being so excited about getting a job, that at the end of the meeting I realized I put my foot in my mouth (more than once).

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This is what I have learned:
  • Be careful about name dropping.  If you have worked with folks the client knows, be cautious about telling them. This can be a double-edged sword. At times it can be good, but at times your client might dislike the person or think they have terrible taste, and this might work against you.
  • Be extremely careful about how you talk about yourself and your skills. I would suggest staying away from saying things like, “I am the very best.” If you think that is the case, make sure you show them, and let them decide, rather than telling them.
  • In that first meeting, be very careful about giving prices until you are clear about the full job scope.  Once you give a client a price, they’ll usually hold you to it.
  • If your client makes any requests you do not like, this is when you really need to keep your big mouth shut. Tell them you’d love to think about it and get back to them with choices.
  • Be cautious about giving away designs or concepts at that first meeting.  A lot of first time clients encourage you to design on the spot.  There is a fine line between keeping them engaged and giving them new design ideas they can take and use with another vendor.  Remember: your new idea is what you are selling.

When meeting a new client I find that what works best is just being yourself, letting them feel they are your one and only interest, and that your only desire is to do your very best.  The one simple thing I like verbalizing is, “There is nothing I’d love more than to have the opportunity  to work with you.”  I find the simple, honest truth can be very effective.

When you meet a new client, what have you learned works best to say? What have you learned not to say?  How do you follow up after that first meeting?