These are extraordinary times. And in such times, extraordinary measures may be necessary to get the job.
It doesn't need to be during a time of crisis to gauge a potential client's potentially hidden fears vs. overt needs/interests.
When you are interviewing with a potential client you should be sensitive to many aspects of the conversation and even body language.
There are things we will never guess during an initial meeting, but by working with them before signing a contract we may uncover critical issues.
Sometimes you may have a hunch or professional predilection. One sign that could lead to stress is that they have worked with another professional and were not pleased with the results. This makes the client hypersensitive to anything you do or say and for me at least, this is a sign to bow out as I have gone through one or two scenarios that were very tough.
- Do you listen well to what your client is saying vs. responding with a script?
- Can you detect what is a real issue or concern by asking appropriate questions that should uncover underlying motivations and true status?
- Try to notice body language, speech delivery, etc. to sense if there is some kind of trauma or fear that you can address properly.
- People want to buy YOU before they buy your services. They are looking, during an initial meeting, to see if they can trust you and whether they are compatible even.
- Being able to offer some aspect of your services in advance will show a client that you are responsive and intent on solving their problem. This could be in the way of a market study, a suggestion to stage, etc.
- Are you responsive, accurate, timely, courteous and professional? You have to assess the client and their 'position' even, to temper your conversation and be clear without being chatty or intrusive.
About a month ago I was referred to a high profile remodel project in Winter Park. Very nice couple and the initial meeting went rather well. I think I showed my true interest and was happy to offer suggestions on the property. For two weeks after that, I was in touch via email with sample sketch plans on how the remodel could work and several hours worth of working through options considering budget, timing, materials, views, future phases, etc.
I noticed that there was some type of sensitivity in the client but appreciation for my work. I was told three days ago by the referring person that a less than optimum outcome had befallen them in a previous custom design scenario.
I had a second meeting at the client's office two days ago and was told my persistence and suggestions/sketches were appreciated and that it was one of the main reasons I was still under consideration. It was also mentioned that the wife was undergoing chemo for the last 2 years.
I reworked my proposal after thinking about his request to better explain the general procedure and sent it yesterday. Overnight, I thought about the chemo comment and sent a message this morning to offer that my chief draftsperson and I would be willing to wear hazmat suits to undergo the first part of the design process, which is to field measure the interiors and exterior. The house was built in the 40s and there were no original blueprints or "as-builts" available upon which to base modifications.
I am awaiting a response.