The first call with a prospective client is the typical first date as both of you are trying to figure out each other on facts, professional rapport, and scope of work. What is either party getting out of this relationship? How are you both planning to work towards the eventual goal? Do you even want to work with each other? This is an effort that gets easier with practice.
As a freelancer, if you want to land new business easily, here are some truths you should know;
Make Sure You Understand the Commitment
The most important questions to ask up front are around commitment, both in terms of what the client expects from you and what you can expect back from the client. Ask as many questions as you need to! Once you have fully understood the scope of the project on the first call, codify it in writing with deliverables, timeline, and cost so everyone is in agreement before work begins.
You need to talk budget first otherwise you might end up wasting too many hours preparing for and attending meetings, only to find out that the potential client is offering a small fraction of your rate. It's a waste of time and effort. So, make sure to confirm with the client that their fee aligns with your rate.
Ask All the Right Questions
The first conversation should always focus on trying to understand the potential client's project, perspective, and what problem they'd like help with. Ask a lot of questions and check your understanding along the way. People want to know that you get them.
Clarity equals time. The clearer the client can convey their vision for the project, the faster it can be achieved. This framework puts some of the responsibility on the client to streamline their preferences when speaking with the freelancer.
Always be positive, open minded, and kind. It’s a working relationship and they also have to enjoy working with you personally as well as creatively.
Make sure you sound interested and energetic when talking on the phone. Lack of energy or enthusiasm does not reflect well on your end. Sound like you're interested in the work! Part of doing that means asking questions about the client, the project, the expectations, and anything else you want to know about. This demonstrates interest and shows you've done this before, which conveys confidence and experience.
So the next time the phone rings and your prospective client is on the other end of the line, make sure to borrow a tip or two from these. That’s if you want the job anyway.