The art of avoidance: what not to say to a new client

Young couple shaking hands with a female agent

As a freelancer, you’ll know that the best way to gain new clients is through word-of-mouth and recommendations from your current clients.

Basically, reputation is everything. Here’s what to avoid saying or doing when meeting a new client, in order to keep yours…

After weeks of pitching and negotiating you’ve finally managed to secure the contract. You’re happy, the client is happy – time to get on with the work.

But it doesn’t mean you can relax completely. Contracts can be cancelled – and in order to gain new clients off the back of this one, you’ll want to ensure your reputation remains squeaky-clean.

To do this, try to avoid say these things to new clients…

‘I don’t do deadlines.’
As a freelancer, you’re often brought in to handle a single contract or project that’s been given a strict deadline. You must be able to convince your client that you’ll have the work finished in plenty of time to meet the deadline. An organic way of working is fine, but not every company works in the same way. Your client needs reassurance that you’re the right person for the job – so show them you are!

‘Let’s just play it by ear.’
This might be your personal work motto, but the client will want to either see a plan from your end or for you to follow their plan. They’re paying good money for your services so will want to know what they’re paying for and see regular results.

‘How much holiday will I get?’
Working as a freelancer means your clients aren’t usually responsible for paying your holiday time, especially on short-term contracts. If you’ve got a pre-arranged holiday in the pipeline this should be cleared with the client during the drawing-up of the contract. The most important thing to the client, and for your reputation, is that the work gets done to a high standard by their deadline – holidays or no holidays.

Man sitting on the floor and working on laptop with financial

‘I’m not sure…’
As the saying goes, no question is a stupid question, so always ask if you need clarification on something. However, there’s a certain way of admitting you’re unsure of something without convincing your client that you’re a bit lost. Saying ‘I don’t know but will find out’ instead of “Emm, I’m not sure” shows you’re ready to do what’s needed to get the work done. Be affirmative even in your uncertainty, to reassure your client you’re capable.

‘I’ve got a dentist’s appointment’
What you do in your spare time is not something your client needs to know or worry about. They’ve signed a contract with you for a set number of hours and a total number of days – so whatever you do outside of working hours isn’t their problem. As a freelancer, you have the freedom of working your own hours. So, got a dentist’s appointment from 3 o’clock? Make up the lost hour in the evening – your client never has to know.

‘Call me whenever you need to’
It’s important to provide your client with a contact number so that they can keep in touch. However, it’s also vital to give them some vague times when it’s best to call, e.g. between 9 and 5 o’clock during the week – otherwise you’ll find yourself batting away calls at 7pm on a Friday evening or 10am on a Sunday morning. You can work whenever you want – not whenever they want.


Posted by The Secret Businessman