5 Common Mistakes Designers Should Avoid During Client Meetings

5 Common Mistakes Designers Should Avoid During Client Meetings

Okay, so you’ve been out there hustling hard – banging on doors, cold calling and handing out business cards at every opportunity in order to land some web design work. Now finally, you’ve got an interested prospect and you’ve managed to organize your first client meeting. This could be the big one, so now is not the time to mess it up.

At this point, you’ve practiced your pitch in the bathroom mirror, you’ve got your documents in order, you’ve ironed your best shirt and you’re ready to go. So what could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, that’s what.

In this article, I’m going to share with you 5 of the biggest mistakes I ever made as a self employed freelance web designer and how best to avoid them.

Let’s go through them.

Mistake #1. Being late for meetings

There’s nothing more unprofessional than being late for an appointment. I recall being late for a meeting once by 20 minutes, and it cost me the job. I could tell through the clients body language that they weren’t impressed, and even after having apologized, I wasn’t comfortable throughout the meeting and as a result, didn’t get the job.

What you can do to avoid it

Make sure your documentation, notes and anything else required for the meeting is ready the night before. The reason I was late for this particular meeting was because I was desperately trying to complete the web design proposal just before the meeting, which took much longer than expected. Needless to say, it was pretty embarassing and thankfully, through a change in organizational habits, it hasn’t happened again since.

Mistake #2. Dressing inappropriately

I recall attending a meeting once with a rather large organization within the medical field. This particular client found me through a word of mouth referral and was keen to get started on a sizeable project. Knowing that I landed the job based upon a referral from a long time client, I decided to dress down a bit and attend the meeting in jeans and a short sleeve t-shirt.

I arrived on location, only to find myself in a large corporate boardroom on the 7th floor of an inner city office block, surrounded by professional business people in expensive suits. Lets just say there were a few “odd looks” when I entered the room.

What you can do to avoid it

Regardless of whether or not you have the job, or think you have the job, always dress appropriately in formal business attire. This should include dress pants, suitable shoes and a business shirt. Thankfully, unlike the previous job, I did get this one, but only because my other client recommended me highly.

Mistake #3. Forgetting your client’s name

A sure fired way of losing any contract is by calling your client by the wrong name. Unfortunately I have been in this position whereby I spent an entire hour and a half calling my client “Andrew”, when his name was “Arnie”. I’m not sure why he didn’t pull me up on it sooner, (perhaps he felt sorry for me) – but in any case, it was pretty embarassing, and I believe it cost me the job.

What you can do to avoid it

Write your clients name down on your business card, or somewhere where you can reference it quickly and easily on your way to the meeting. Perhaps even say it a few times in your head before arriving. Be sure when you first meet, that you shake your clients hand firmly, look them in the eye, smile and greet them by saying their name.

Mistake #4. Technological distractions

Here’s another job killer. Technological distractions. Now you may be wondering what on earth I’m talking about, so let me give you an example of what happened to me one time whilst in a meeting with a client.

Being relatively new to the freelancing world, I decided to meet with this particular client, and take along my iPhone, my laptop and my iPad. I figured I could demonstrate some examples of my work on my iPad, and also show how my sites were suitable for mobiles as well. I then went about taking notes on my laptop while the client spoke, in an effort to gather the users requirements. Needless to say with all these “gadgets” on the table, that they did nothing more than distract and hinder the meeting.

What you can do to avoid it

Only take what’s absolutely essential for the meeting and leave the “gadgets” back at the office. You should be listening intently to what your client has to say, and more importantly – looking them in the eye while they speak. Its about giving them your undivided attention during the meeting – and not stuffing your face against a computer monitor while they chat to themselves in the background.

Mistake #5. Giving quotes on the fly

I don’t know how many projects I lost by doing this. In an effort to try and “speed up” the hiring process, I would literally just pull numbers out of my head during meetings, hoping that I would get the job. Often my quotes were grossly inaccurate and this led to clients raising their eyebrows, saying “Geez, that’s more than we anticipated”, and then disappearing – never to be heard from again.

What you can do to avoid it

Never quote for jobs on the spot, especially during your first meeting. Always get the requirements, then go about assessing the work involved, and then once you have everything you need, quote the job in a formal manner. Don’t ever feel pressured during a meeting that you have to give a price. Take your time and do it properly.

Have you made a mistake during a client meeting that other designers could learn from? Take a minute and leave it in the comments section below!

John Romaine is a freelance web designer, SEO consultant and full time internet marketer based in Sydney, Australia. John operates webdesignbusinesskits.com, which provides freelance web designers with a fast start business kit, and ready made contract templates. All included within the Web Design Business Startup Kit

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(2) responses


February 11, 2013

Mistake #5 is so true. No one expects a price immediately, and they will think you’re more professional if you take your time to do proper research.


Timothy Cole

August 3, 2014

Wow, it makes me feel better that I’m not the only one who has made a few mistakes starting out as a freelance web designer. There’s so many variables in this industry, and so many ways to go about connecting with clients – it seems different every time. I appreciate the tips!


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