Over the course of a prospective client meeting, there might be a dozen random questions a freelancer might need to be prepared to answer — but there are basic ones that you should be able to handle seamlessly even on your worst day.
This post was sparked by a few serendipitous items over the past week: Lori Widmer’s thoughts in “6 Ways to Get More from Your Marketing,” Jared Tendler’s upcoming Mental Game of Poker 2 (which I helped edit and found to be highly applicable for a freelancer), and the client meeting I mentioned in my Tuesday post, “The thicker the folder, the thicker the applicant.”
When I went to that meeting, I’d just gotten over a cold, and had taken a couple of Benadryl to keep from sniffling, and chugged 2 extra cups of coffee to keep from falling asleep. I’d researched the company, but in Tendler’s poker terms, I was likely to be playing my “C-game”: i.e., the worst level of performance. There wasn’t anything to do but put on my best sales face and plow through.
Even through my antihistamine haze, I knew that I needed to be ready for 4 basic questions, and the rest would need to be handled on the fly:
- What areas/industries/niches do you specialize in?/Tell me about your business/background.
- What’s your experience in my area/industry/niche (i.e., relevant portfolio samples)?
- What’s your usual process/how do you work?
- How much do you charge/what’s your hourly rate/how do you charge?
Sure enough, variations of all of those came up. The meeting went OK, though I rambled more than usual and I felt like my voice was echoing in my head. It was a middling C.
But here’s where Lori’s admonitions about the value of preparation for the freelancer and Jared’s poker theory come back into play: Your A-, B-, and C-games are not static, and there’s work involved in moving them up. On A-game days, when the answers come easily and there’s great rapport with the client, it seems like you can do no wrong. But working on your C-game — making sure you’re rock solid on the basics, and identifying and eliminating your most common mistakes — is arguably the more important part of success.
In a future post, I’ll dig into my thoughts on the best ways to answer those questions.