How to Interview Your Client
So let's talk about interviewing your clients, and this is in the process of when you're having that initial meeting like I said, or initial phone call with your clients. And how you can weave that language into your proposal. So... It's so powerful to echo back exactly what your clients are saying to you. And I bring this up because I think initially when we hear this we're like well duh. (laughs) Like of course we have to, you know, echo back what they say. Like that's the whole reason that we're having the meeting. But most of the time it doesn't quite roll that way, and we'll go into why. So first thing is thinking about that initial interview, meeting, conversation. These are some things that I want you to do in order to make this experience better. So the first thing is I want you to humanize this experience with this person or people. If you're in a room with like 12 scary people, then you wanna humanize it with small talk. So lots of times people think, ugh small talk like lame...
. We don't need it. You do. You have to use small talk, and we'll go into even why a little bit later. But you need to have at least some piece of a personality that comes out of that from your client. So it could be as simple as they're a sports fan. Right like, I watched the game last night and this. So like you're looking for that nugget. So something that has nothing to do with their business or this problem or whatever. This is just like a personal thing that whomever you're following up with, so whoever is your point of contact. 'Cause even if you're pitching 12 people, there's gonna be one person that's your point of contact. Right? So you're looking for, you can have small talk with everybody but you're really looking for your point of contact and having some conversation with them. I don't care if it's three minutes long that you're gleaning a piece of information about them. You know, did you enjoy the holiday? Did you, you know... Have you taken any trips lately? Anything. I don't care what it is, right. It could be about the weather. It doesn't matter. It's just a matter of getting them into like a few minutes of conversation, and it humanizes the whole thing, and sets it off on a better flow. Alright. Then I want you all to have a meeting agenda. So I'm not a real, a huge fan of structure necessarily. Like I like things to flow and you can kind of throw you know, all the rules out the window. But it is good to make sure that in that initial conversation that you have a couple things just either in your mental bank or you can write them down if the conversation is on the phone, or if you just have a pad in front of you. Just to make sure that whatever you need to communicate to that client or more importantly what you need to learn from that client, you do. I've been in so many meetings myself where we get really swept into conversation, right. 'Cause I like it. I love meetings. I have fun. So a lot of times we just end up like riffing, and having a blast and it's great for establishing a relationship, but then sometimes I leave and I'm like oh no. I forgot to ask them that. You know and so that, this really helps for that. So if the conversation does naturally spiral in a really fun, personal way, that's great ideally. But you still wanna make sure you don't miss any information. And then note taking establishes engagement. So again, this seems obvious... As far as like, of course I'm gonna take notes during the meeting. But just I want you all to know like psychologically from the client's perspective, that it's not rude to look down and jot notes, right. It's actually good because it shows that you're engaged. So I'm looking at you all who are here with me today. When you're jotting notes, like I know, I know you're not ignoring me, unless you're drawing and I don't know (laughs). So and that's okay if you're doing that, too. Then we'll try to get you out of that. But you know most likely it's because something I've said you're like oh yeah that hits me, and then you'll jot a quick note about it. So it's good. It shows me that you're engaged and same thing happens in the room in meetings. So don't worry about like having to look down and jot something down. Also don't worry about like saying, hey can you repeat that? Or can you say that again? Lots of people get nervous in a room. Like I don't wanna ask them to have to say that again, or they're just like furiously. It's okay if you have to say, hey you know I wanna make sure that you know I really heard you, so let me just write that down again if you don't mind repeating it. Okay. And then repeating phrases back to them is a subtle gesture of support. So I love doing this in meetings where, you know, if somebody expresses to you like, we're really having a problem with let's say social media engagement, right. We post things. We're using five different platforms. And it's just a mess. And it feels like it takes a ton of work, and we're not getting any engagement. And so that would be great because you could just repeat that back to them and say okay. So you're using multiple platforms. Which ones, right? And it allows you to like dig into those points. So, and again, they feel heard because they said multiple platforms. You just said multiple platforms. Again this seems simple, but we often get swept into meetings and conversations, and don't think about this structure. But it really makes all the difference if you go in very intentionally. Alright. So when you're interviewing definitely ask less questions. Listen more. And don't fix problems. Now I bring this up because I'm a big problem fixer. So I like to fix things for people. I'm in a consulting role. So any of you that are consultants or coaches, probably also fall into this and don't even realize it. So here's the way it flows. You'll be in a meeting, and your client is expressing something to you. And you're like, oh wait I've such a good idea for you. Right? And then you kind of rattle off. And ultimately you think, well I'm being really helpful. Right? Like I'm gonna give them a little piece of me right now. And then they're gonna love me and they're gonna want me. Right? And ultimately that is good, right. It is nice sometimes to give people appetizer sized portions of what you can deliver. I'm not saying that's a terrible thing, but in the first consultation or meeting setting, I wouldn't do that. You can do that elsewhere. You can do that through content in your business, right. You can create really helpful content, and email marketing and social media marketing, and use those things to like educate, inspire, entertain people. But when you're in the meeting, make it all about them. So just think about, talk less, listen more. And I will often wait, even when there are awkward beats, that's usually where all of the magic is. So you might ask a question and your client answers. And then they stop, right. And the initial inclination is just to ask another question. Right? Or maybe you even launch into like reflecting back what they just said. Just give it a minute. We call that in screenwriting, we're like awkward pause or awkward beat, right, or like a beat. And then this happens. And so just think about that. Like give it a beat. Just breathe because a lot of times, they will go in the awkward beat, and it's like awkward and then they go, okay and then and then and then, and then they really start to spill the good stuff. So they will never do it if you don't give them the opportunity to. So allow there to be just that quick beat, right. It doesn't to be like you're staring at each other. I mean you could be finishing notes, right. You could just go to your pad, and be like okay, okay. And let them stew in that beat, just for that like one extra second. And that's where you will get the gold. And like I said, don't try to fix their problem. Just take in the information. Take it all in. You can address problems in the proposal. Again, you're not fixing them. You're telling them how you're gonna fix them. You can save all that for the proposal. Let the meeting be a cliffhanger, right. Like they should be excited to get the proposal. If you've given it all up in the meeting, then they're like, okay well send us a proposal, right. And again now you can see how's it like, well we got that, not we forgot, now you sent the proposal. Now everything just doesn't feel as exciting. But if you're like, okay I do 15 minute introductory calls. Let's say that's how you structure your business. And you have this nice meeting via phone, and then you're like listen, you listen, listen, listen, listen, listen. And you go, great okay. So I'm gonna put together something for you, and I'll send it over. It's gonna detail this, this, and this. And that's it, right. So now they're on a cliffhanger. They're like, ooh what is this thing? And I've done this so many times in my business. And I always will say this is how long it will take me to get it to you. 24 hours, 48 hours, whatever it is. But always like, I'll get an email where they're like, I can't wait any longer. Can you send it? And it has this like feeling of like when is that book coming out You know? When is the sequel? When can I get the sequel? So that's why it's so important to do this flow. Alright. And I love this quote from Simon Sinek. If you haven't read his books, start with Why. It's fabulous. It's like life changing for business, but also for life. There is a different between listening, and waiting for your turn to speak. (laughs) So I love that. It follows along with what we just saying. Instead of anticipating that next question, or taking in what they're saying to you, and going okay, they really mean this, right. And when we're gonna go into that in a second 'cause we naturally do that as humans. Just listen. That also makes it so much easier for that little awkward pause where you get the real gold. Okay. Now, let's talk a little bit about anticipating answers and interpreting responses. So this is key to making proposals work for you. So... When we get information from our clients through an introductory meeting. We probably go into that meeting already having some basis or understanding of what we think their problem is, right. That's usually because we've done this for awhile, and you're like I've heard it all, and I know what they're gonna say, right. The thing is, we don't know what they gonna say. It may be similar to what some of our other clients say, but it's gonna be worded differently, right. It may be heavier on one end not on the other, right. They may struggle with one area more than your other client does. So, this is something we do as humans. We take in information from an external source. Then we like interpret it in our mind and we go, oh well what you really mean is this. And we just do it with friends, famiLy, right. It's very common to do that. But in this instance, we can't do that. 'Cause then we're missing all of the gold that our clients are giving us. So the best thing you can do is just listen like I said. And when you are listening, don't say okay, okay, so they just said this, and they mean this. Instead just actually write down what they're saying. Like the exact words 'cause that's what's going to connect. And when we interpret, that's the biggest problem in proposals or sales pages or sales copy. Goes for all of those things. Every time I'm hired as a consultant to look at why those things aren't working, it always boils down to this. It's that when I look at their initial client conversation in those notes it never matches what the copy ends up being in the proposal or the sames page ever. So this is really key. If you take one thing away from this class, honestly it should be this. And it's something to practice.