10 Things To Ask Your Potential Client Before You Start Work

10 Things To Ask Your Potential Client Before StartingWork, client, business, small business, potential client, project, BlackbirdPunk Consulting, Digital Consulting for the Music Industry, music industry digital entertainment agency, Berlin, berlin, digital, work digital, freelancer digital music industry
You're all hyped up to start working with a potential client? Great! Before you dive in, take a second to ask your client these important questions. Be ready for success!

Potential client analysis is often times the first thing you’ll do when you get a request for work. It is important to determine if you and the client fit.

Not to mention that the success of the whole project comes and goes with a clear definition of the task. In other words, if you and your new client are not on the same page, you are in trouble.

Before you visit a voodoo priest or consult an oracle to get the information you need, read this 10 Things To Ask Your Potential Client Before You Start Work.

To make it easier, there is a key topic above each section. Also, a variety of question you can ask for this specific key topic.

You don’t need an oracle to get the client information you’ll need

  1. ‘The clients own job’
    What is it you are working on? What is your business/ project doing?

This question may seem too simple to ask. Surely, the client knows exactly what they are working. Also, there is probably no questions what the business or the project will look like.

At the same time, it is very handy to let the client explain it to you anyway. Firstly, this gives you the opportunity to learn all about the business or project you’ll be working on.

Secondly, it gives the client the opportunity to reflect on the subject. In addition, if you’re client has to describe something with their own words, you’ll catch any uncertainties firsthand.

  1. ‘Vision’
    What is your vision for this project? What inspires you?

This gives you the opportunity to learn more about the client’s aspirations and needs. A clear vision for a project can help it along the way even when you and your client are at a difficult patch.

If the client hasn’t thought about a vision yet, it is a good idea to encourage them to visualise one. In the same way, you’ll learn something about the character of the client you’ll be working with.

Identifying a clear vision can help you to get to know your potential client

Is the vision for the project driven by the wish to stand out in the team? Does your client want to expand their business in the future and this project is one important stepping stone for this?

Do they need to fight for their job because the economy is slowing down? Those are all very good indicators as to what persona or character you are up to. Also, you’ll also find out about any secret stress-factors for the client.

  1. ‘Decision making’
    How is the decision process run? Who is responsible for what? Does the team have a specific person leading it? Are there any important stakeholders?

These questions are really important to nail down. The client is most likely not keen on answering them, though.

The question about the decision process shows you who is really in charge within the team or company. Also, it shows you how quick a decision is going to be made and what obstacles will lay in its way.

What is more, it illustrates you the protocol you will need to follow for optimal client satisfaction. There are chances that there is a quicker way of making a decision than what the client has communicated to you.

However, respecting the path that the client has laid out can help you with the overall client satisfaction. As well as it will keep you out of internal fights.

  1. ‘Management’
    What do you expect this project to deliver? Does the client already have KPI’s (Key Product Indicators)? What are you trying to achieve? Any milestones already identified?

Another key question to ask your potential client before you start work. Those answers give you clear instructions for your work.

They also help you measure your success with the project. Likewise, they secure you from any client complaint that might come up.

Milestones can help to divide the project into bite-size pieces

If you have a clear and mutual understanding of what the project has to deliver, you can always come back to this when discussions occur or the client wants to change the brief mid-project.

They also help you layout the timeline for the overall project. Identifying key milestones will help you break down the project in bite-sizes pieces and will make it less intimidating to follow through.

  1. ‘Money’
    What is the overall budget? How much money is allocated for promotion? Do you have any running subscriptions for plugins or software that can be used on the project?

This one is a tricky one. Most likely the client will ask you what the project will cost. Getting real numbers out of a client can be a huge task.

Either they don’t want to tell you their budget or they simply don’t know it. Nonetheless, this question is very important.

It can take several meetings before everyone is on the same page. Make it as clear as possible what the budget is consisting of and when you’ll need what part of it.

Pinning down a solid budget is important

For example, the overall budget may include your own work, software the client needs for delivering the project or plugins for the WordPress installation and the advertising money needed for pushing the project.

Making all those points clear and suited with a healthy budget will help you get through the project without complications. Nothing is worse than having to ask the client for more money mid-project which wasn’t communicated in the beginning.

  1. ‘Time’
    How urgent is the matter? What is the project timeline?
    How does the client keep track of timelines at the moment?

This another vital question to ask your potential client. How quickly to they actually need your service?

Is it something you have to schedule in immediately or is it about the annual planning for 2021? Moreover, this question helps you plan your year and makes scheduling so much easier.

Another question that plays to the same key topic is about the timeline. When would the client need each step to be delivered?

Make sure there is a clear timeline

Is there any buffer that could be scheduled in. Or will it be a bit of a stretch?

This is giving you an idea of how to sort out your own schedule. In case the client is already using tracking mechanisms for the timeline such as a software program (i.e.Gantt) than ask the client to be synced with their tool.

In case they don’t track their timeline at all. Well, then there is time you’ll show them very politely about how to use this important mechanism for any project success.

  1. ‘Mission statement’
    What is the companies overall mission statement? Does your team have an own one?

The mission statement is the core of any companies strategical and communicational efforts. It shows you cleary the companies values as well as their aspirations.

Do they dream big or are they trying to keep it cool and under the radar? Do they want the big publicity or are they very confined with a bit of understatement?

This question doesn’t necessarily help you with the project on a daily basis. However, it is important to understand the client as well as possible and to learn the inner fabric of the company.

A mission statement if a vital piece of information about your potential client

Here, the mission statement tells you more than you would expect in the first place. Sometimes, even the individual teams in a company do have different mission statements of their own in addition to the overall mission statement of the company.

This again tells you a lot about the vibe that they drive by. What is more, it also tells you a lot about productivity.

Is the mission statement far away from their everyday work live? Or is it exactly matching your experience with the client?

  1. ‘Target audience’
    Who is your target audience? How are you currently engaging with it?

Another difficult question to ask. Also, one that scares people the most. However, there is no beating around the bush.

If you don’t know the target audience than it will be hard to deliver your service exactly to the people that it should later attract. You can help the client by asking soft questions around it.

Help your client to figure out the target audience

Like, who is currently responding to your Facebook posts. Are you happy with those people or do you want to reach someone else?

Sometimes you can help the client by making them aware of selling statistics of albums for example. The GfK can help you filter your sold items.

This can help you and your client to know who will be the receiving part of your project.

  1. ‘Communication’
    How do you prefer to communicate? Is there a set app like Slack? Are there any words in the branding that are no go’s (Like affordable instead of cheap)?

Communication is another key element within every project. How people communicate can make a huge difference in productivity as well as the achievements of any project.

Making this point as clear as possible for both sides can help keep calm when things get stressful. Moreover, it secures a professional delivery of information from and to the client.

This is vital for making sure that your work is meeting the expectations of the client. Being able to have a clear communications strategy can not be underestimated.

Solid communication can determine a project’s success

Sometimes, teams already use apps like Slack to communicate with each other. Like with the timeline tool, you can ask the client to be synced into the existing flow.

In case there isn’t already a dedicated app, make sure to talk to the client about their prefered way. Maybe they only want to write emails because they hate to talk on the telephone.

Perhaps they are used to writing only short messages. Whatever the clients prefered method is, make sure to schedule in regular meetings in person.

Digital communications are great and can help a lot. However, it does not make face-to-face talks obsolete.

  1. ‘Success’
    How do you measure success?

Last but not least one of the hardest questions to ask. Many times when you’ll get a new project in, you’re all hyped up and just want to dive in.

Nevertheless, it is important to take a minute and make sure you and your client are on the same page. The clearer you and your potential client agree on the measurement of success, the higher the client’s satisfaction will be.

Measuring success can be tricky but is so important to pin down with your potential client

It can also save your butt in case there is a dispute. It can happen that the client will complain at the end that the project didn’t overlap with their initial brief.

However, if you have previously marked what success will look like, you’ll have an important point in argumentation.

General advice:

  • Make sure to write protocols for every meeting
  • Keep on top of your workflow with the help of Trello or similar apps
  • Regularly communicate your position on the timeline to the client
  • Make sure all invoices are paid properly
  • Keep on top of the accounting as well as your daily workflow
  • Don’t forget to evaluate each project after you’ve been finished

I hope this 10 Things To Ask Your Potential Client Before You Start Work helped you figure out what it is important to talk about. It can take a little practise to communicate with your client in a clear way. Also, asking some of the hard questions may feel uncomfortable at first. However, overcoming this discomfort will help you become more and more successful in the future!

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