Lately, I’ve had several client video calls with a few prospective clients who are either SaaS or digital marketing SMEs, and potential copywriting and/or localization buyers. In this article, I’m going to share three insights for effective communication with your target clients, all of which are drawn from my real-world experience with B2B prospects. Here it goes!
Be all ears during your client video calls
Meeting your client via virtual calls can be a challenge in itself, especially if you are seeing and talking with them for the first time. However, just remember that client video calls are not about you—they’re about your client, their problems, their concerns, and their needs.
That being said, the best way to show that you are, have and can deliver what your client needs right now is by first showing you can understand what they need exactly. The only way you can craft a clear answer as to why you and your team are the solution to their current needs in the form of a proposal, a quote, a pitch, etc. is by first gathering all the relevant information from your client.
Now, a key part of understanding what your prospect needs will require you to actively listen to them first.
If you are too excited or anxious to monopolize the conversation, chances are your prospect will feel overwhelmed, unable to express themselves and feel welcome, or, as a result, won’t get the best impression.
Therefore, be ready to listen and take down notes as your prospect verbalizes their pain points, anxieties, ambitions, and desires.
Focus especially on words and phrases like “Our main challenges are,” “We feel frustrated with,” “There are issues with,” “The problem we’re experiencing right now is…,” “Our current/former provider did this, while we wanted that instead,” etc.
Dare to ask questions to show interest and commitment
From my experience talking with Procurement and Business Development managers, many B2B clients can identify the kind of freelance service provider they need, but that’s about it. Only few know in advance what information, materials, etc. they need to supply their freelance partners in order to help their vendors help them.
This means that it is up to you to tell your client what you need to know in order to help them reach their goals.
As vendors, we need to be a step or two ahead of our buyer persona, and that means being ready to ask the right questions before the video call is over.
Question prompts for your next client video call
Every call with a prospect is different, because every person and organization are different. So will you, with time, feel different—more confident, more intuitive— as you gain practice meeting and talking with your clients online.
If you are wondering what would be appropriate to ask, here are some general prompts you could use (order is arbitrary):
- “Why do you believe you need a(n) [vendor category]?”
- “Have you ever worked with [X vendor category] before? What was your experience like?”
- “As this is your first time working with a [vendor category], there are a few things I’d like to share as a recommendation, so I can better cater for your needs. Would that be OK with you?”
- “When we talked via DM on LinkedIn, you said you were looking to improve your [X aspect of the client’s business]. Could you share any preferences, ideas, former cases, or metrics as to how and when you’d like this to be done and monitored?”
- “Would you be comfortable sharing X information on a confidential basis with me and my team so we can solve Y problem for you?”
Be strategic, be bold
Even if your prospect may have an idea of what type of service they would need now in order to solve an existing problem for their organisation, successful businesspeople are always on the alert as to new issues, gaps, and problems they could solve for their customers.
If you, like me, prefer to have your prospects see you as a potentially long-lasting partner for them, instead of as a one-off stopgap for the current holes in their business, you need to start thinking strategically, i.e., beyond your client’s present scenario.
Opportunity, strategy, solution: how to sell beyond the sale
As a specialized service provider in the marketing and advertising industry, I often find it not difficult to spot the gaps in my potential clients’ businesses. And the same may be true for any specialized vendor out there—when you know your craft and what your target customer persona is like, identifying a client’s missed opportunities is easier than it may seem.
For example, many times, they come to me because they think they need an expert copywriter, but, when I start delving into their brand identity and story, it turns out that they don’t have one. Or it is not readily available for someone like a copywriter to understand how the brand should sound and read like, for instance. So I put together a proposal where one of the options includes not just the copywriting solution the client came to me for, but also the creation of a solid brand identity and story—in nine cases out of ten, they buy it.
How could you apply this same principle of opportunity, strategy, and solution to your customer’s industry and your service and area of specialization?
Well, you could consider asking yourself the following questions:
- What are some other problems my prospect may be experiencing that they are not seeing right now?
- What opportunities is my client missing because such issues have not been (properly) addressed yet?
- What would be the long-term business benefits for my prospect if they hired me in the long run instead of just once?
- Say you are a freelance web development service provider. Maybe your client call focuses on their problems with the landing page of their new website, but did you check the rest of the site before jumping on the call to see if there’s anything else you might help with?
- Simply put, what other issues could you help your client solve by means of your services and team?
Tell them about it in the form of a neat proposal via a live chat via Zoom, Meet, Teams, or the video conferencing software of your choice. Don’t give away the solution, though—just tactfully point out these other problems to them to see if they would be willing to invest in a solution for those as well.
Remember: If you can take a deep breath and attend your meeting ready to listen more than your talk; if you can genuinely ask questions to better understand your client’s present scenario and aspirations for the future; if you can see beyond the sea of issues your prospect is experiencing today and position yourself as a long-term problem solver for them, you will not just convert your client this one time, but repeatedly.
Clients don’t invest in projects or services, they invest in people and results. Show a client what you can do and would be ready to do for them, and chances are you’ll be building more trust than you already have built for them to want to talk with you in the first place.
I hope this article has given you some food for thought and a few ideas to boost your marketing and conversation efforts with your prospects. It’s certainly helped me put together my own specific roadmap for my next client video call.