How to Talk About Your Design Services to Clients

One of the  obvious objectives of being a designer is to gain the opportunity to have a conversation with someone (potential client) about the work you do and to find out what their goals are as a company. At this stage in the project, it’s not really about giving your pitch, it’s about sensing what your client is wanting to hear and going into the right amount of detail. The goal of these “getting to know each other” meetings is to explain how you work, what you can do for them and their needs and history. The first step in this meeting is to talk about your design services. It might seem easy, but once you’re sitting face-to-face with a client, it can be very difficult to put into words what you do.

What Do You Do?

This is, believe it or not, one of the most difficult questions to answer. It becomes even more difficult when you specialize or do a lot of different things. (“You only do design?!”) One of the reasons this question is so challenging is because you know exactly what you do and it seems simple, to you. You also probably haven’t given it much thought. “I design websites” seems pretty self-explanatory, but clients want you to break down your process. How exactly do you design websites? And more importantly, what can you do for me (the client)?

Have an Elevator Pitch

The best way to start when you’re talking with your client, is to have a “blurb.” In order to speak confidently and persuasively about your services, you’ll need to be able to pitch your skills and services to whoever in whatever situation. You’re going to need to be able to convey your services articulately and engagingly and depending on the client you have, you’ll need various elevator pitches to accommodate these types of clients. You need to give your listeners to perfect balance of information – too little or too much can be a turnoff. 

Understand Your Client

Throughout your career, you’ll encounter all kinds of clients. When your meeting with clients for the first time, take hints about what kind of person they are. If they are familiar with industry jargon, show off your stuff and be as technical as possible. If it’s your neighbour, your design talk might be intimidating. You’ll want to have different kinds of blurbs available and ready for action depending on the type of client you have.

Clients will also have different expectations of the information they plan to get out of the meeting. For some, you may have to talk about your services for 5 minutes (which can seem like an eternity), while others will appreciate a short, to the point blurb such as “I design iPhone/website apps for clients in the healthcare sector.” Some clients might be satisfied with this, others may not and you’ll have to elaborate. 

Talk About Features & Benefits

Ultimately, the client wants to make sure they’re hiring the right designer and that their goals will be met. Your client has a need – that’s why you arranged this meeting in the first place. Your client needs to hear “what’s in it for me.” If you don’t answer their need in this meeting, it can difficult for them to make the decision to hire you. 

When talking about your services, it is okay to follow a script. Prepare your script before you go to your meeting. Don’t make your blurbs perfect because you don’t want to come off as a robot. Before you meet with your client, write out a sample script to prepare yourself for the types of questions they might ask:

  • What do you do?
  • What clients do you work for?
  • What are the typical challenges of the clients you have previously worked with?
  • What’s your design process like? (Your process from this meeting to final designs)

It Takes Practice

Your first meeting with a client probably won’t go as smoothly as anticipated. Sometimes, you might not know what to say, but don’t get discouraged. Be genuine and if your client doesn’t understand something, stop and try again. Let the natural flow of conversation unfold. Follow your script, but be present in the moment and make sure your words are coming directly from you.