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Establish the Terms of Engagement During the First Client Meeting

Chris and Jose give step-by-step guidance on how to handle your first meeting with a client.

The first meeting with a potential client can be pretty nerve-wracking. You go in with the hopes that you’ll close the deal, but that’s not what the first meeting is about at all. The first meeting with any client is your opportunity to establish the terms of engagement right off the bat.

In this video, Chris and Jose answer questions from a live audience on how to handle the first meeting with a client. Below, we’ll cover the key pieces of advice:


The Purpose of the First Meeting

It’s important to know that any first meeting with a prospect is not about selling. It’s about learning more about the opportunity and determining whether or not you’re the right fit. The client has very specific goals in mind, and wants to know if you’re the person who can lead them to the right solution.

So before you gear up for your meeting, forget about closing, negotiating, or selling. Think of it as a first date where you and the client get to know each other’s history, goals, and expectations.


Identify Your Client

There are four main types of clients you will meet time and time again. Identifying these clients will help you figure out the best communication strategy and how to navigate their concerns.


1. The Fisher

The Fisher is also known as an information gatherer. They’re just browsing around, collecting as much information as possible, before they think of making a decision. Oftentimes, the fisher is a time waster. They’re not serious yet, and have no intent to buy.


2. The Square Pegger

The Square Pegger is not the final decision maker. They’re doing their due diligence looking for a service provider, but are not the ones who need the work done. Because they’re working on behalf of someone else, they act as if their job is on the line. They’ll often ask for very specific work samples, and ask strange questions.


3. The Cost-Conscious Client

The Cost-Conscious client is budget-driven. They want to make sure they don’t overpay because it’s likely they’ve been burnt in the past. Cost-conscious clients typically view design as a commodity, and will always try to underpay to avoid getting burnt again.


4. The Perfect Client

This is the ideal client. Perfect clients value design at a premium, respect the design process, and need the work done yesterday. There’s usually little to no friction when it comes to communicating with perfect clients.


The First Meeting Checklist

Now that we’ve gone over the four main clients, it’s time to prepare for the first meeting. We’ll go through each step you need to cover with the prospective client.

If you haven’t yet, download our First Meeting Workbook to practice running your first call with a prospect.


  1. Connect. Get to know the client. Learn about their background, their work history, and find some common ground with them.
  2. Align. What is the purpose of the meeting? Make sure you’re on the same page.
  3. Deity of choice. What is the goal of this engagement? What will help the client make a purchase decision?
  4. Clarify. Read your notes back to them in a concise summary.
  5. Ask. What do they need to see in your proposal, should you both agree to move forward?
  6. Next steps. Address any remaining questions and go over what they can expect next.


Once you and the prospect are acquainted and on the same page, ask clarifying questions before ending the meeting. Ask questions clarifying how you can be of service. That way, when you prepare your proposal, you can address any concerns they may have and meet their expectations.

For more, watch the full video above.

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