We’ve all heard the saying “you don’t get a second chance at a first impression”. When it comes to your design business and landing a deal, nothing could be more true. A great first impression is the first step to securing a client and forming an ongoing business relationship.
One of a designer’s main keys to developing a great first impression is trust. No matter what the circumstances of the first impression, if the person cannot trust you, they won’t want to move forward in a designer-client relationship.
For a designer, first impressions can come in several different ways. Most of our first impressions are visual: a website, advertisement or personal meeting. After an initial visual impression, phone calls and emails may follow which can also leave an impression. This article will discuss practical ways to impress your clients over and over again.
A designer’s advertisement can be in the form of a banner ad, Craigslist posting, postcard, flyer, brochure, business card or many others. A great first impression not only attracts a client, but also gets them to want to know more about your design business. Put your best skills or specialties front-and-center. Great advertisements are clear, direct and attractive. You have to stand out over your competition or you leave no impression at all.
If the person is impressed by your website or advertisement they may want to meet you in person. This is the chance to have a stronger impression and secure an agreement. When first meeting a client, your appearance is most important, followed by your attention, speech, and preparedness.
No matter where you meet, your office, a public place or their place of business, you should dress professionally. Remember, this is like a job interview, you are a candidate for hiring.
When sitting down with the potential client, you should make eye contact, listen to what they are saying, avoid interrupting and take notes when needed.
You should speak clearly and professionally, it doesn’t matter if the potential client doesn’t do likewise or seems unprofessional.
Be prepared. Being unprepared could be your downfall. This tells the potential client you are unprofessional and probably can’t be trusted. You should have information on the company or person memorized. You should know before your meeting what the potential client needs and what their basic objectives are.
If a potential client visits your website, sees your advertisement or gets your phone number through word-of-mouth, a phone call will provide another opportunity to leave a great impression. A phone call can be spontaneous or it can be planned.
The spontaneous ones are harder to deal with, obviously. If you are uncomfortable or unprepared to handle a call, it’s best to politely and professionally explain to the caller that you are in the middle of something and you will promptly call them back.
If it is a planned call, much like an in-person meeting, your attention, speech and preparedness are very important. While on the phone, make sure you aren’t rambling and make sure you take notes. The notes help with potential questions to ask, concerns to bring up and to make sure you don’t forget what you talked about.
What else would you add?
Now it’s your turn to share. What other tips would you add to the list? How have you successfully made a good first impression with your clients in the past?