Part 1 was focused on discussions about clients and projects, however the same applies to printed and electronic literature which showcase the services being offered. Mentioning a list of client names to illustrate the general target audience and profile of clients is one thing, but then there is another level of detail which goes too far and can cause problems for clients.
Putting that aside, the key is to quickly determine the difference between conversations about real opportunities, and conversations that can be described as phishing or data mining conversations. This is not easy because instinctively people want the opportunities, but it is not healthy to have a 15-minute conversation with a potential client, or anyone in the value chain, and spend most of the time talking about past clients and not come close to discussing requirements.
- As a service provider, the important points are about what the potential client needs. A potential client who is serious about solving a specific problem will be willing to discuss it in detail. Discussion on how to solve current problems is how credibility is gained.
- If confidentiality and sensitivity are an issue, a non-disclosure agreement can be signed as a means of putting the client at ease prior to discussing important matters. Issuing standard terms and conditions that include confidentiality is also an immediately available option.
- If the opportunity is genuine, the conversation will be a two-way process and both parties will better understand what is required and what can be offered. If one party is being evasive about important questions, for example closing the question down and asking another question which seems unrelated, then it is likely that the conversation is more about extracting information than it is about developing rapport and solving a client’s problems.
- Why would someone ask how much you charge for services but not be willing to engage and discuss what problems they are trying to solve and what their requirements are? More thought needs to go into why specific questions are being asked and to avoid feeling that every question must be answered.
- It is good practice to state that ‘matters involving previous clients are private and confidential’, even if a non-disclosure agreement was not signed with previous clients.
Generally, if the opportunity is genuine, the focus will be on how current problems can be resolved and what the requirements will be.