October 13, 2009 at 1:08 pm
Every client or potential client is different; some prefer to communicate via email while some prefer to talk on the phone.
What do you guys think about potential clients who want to meet in person? Do you think it’s an inefficient use of time (and money) considering that you could just talk to them on the phone. I get a fair amount of emails from random people wanting to meet in person to talk about how I can help them. I usually always (indirectly) try to get them to communicate via emails or phone calls. Considering it would probably be silly to try and charge a consultation fee for a meeting about a potential project, what do you guys think about this? Is meeting new clients face to face a waste of time (and money)? And if so, what do you say to those who insist on this?
October 13, 2009 at 1:10 pm
Face to face can be invaluable. But “qualifying” a potential contact – trying to get enough detail to be confident the contact is in the market to hire and not just fishing for free info – is tricky, and crucial.
October 13, 2009 at 2:07 pm
When a client wants to meet in person, it’s a red flag to me that they’ve not done this very much. As a result, if I have not gotten half down at that point, I do then. Pre-productin for I do doesn’t take more than telling me the concept, the call time, the deadline and the budget. I realize this varies dpending on the production but people call me for reality/documentaries. I don’t need to converse the a special effects guy and I don’t care how they did it last year. I sure don’t want to watch what they shot last year. These meetings either place me on the clock early or they weed the gig. I simply sat through too many of em pretending to listen over the years to continue that practice.
October 13, 2009 at 2:21 pm
We feel out potential clients as best we can, and for the serious/legit ones we always meet in person. It’s invaluable.
For potential clients who want to meet at our place (which is what we encourage), we’re always happy to do that. For ones that want us to come to them, we save that for the ones we know are serious and/or have sufficiently deep pockets.
Just visiting our place is enough to give the extra nudge and hook some potential clients. It might seem boring and mundane here to us, but for most people they’ve never visited a studio or production facility before and can find the two-minute nickle tour fascinating. As Fred Willard said in Waiting for Guffman “Being a travel agent, in one of the glamor industries…” Just seeing the sheer workings of the beast is fun for potential clients, and seeing a place full of toys and gizmos helps them understand where their money is going.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
October 13, 2009 at 2:42 pm
From my perspective meeting face to face is almost a no-brainer. I’m not selling a product or one time transaction, but rather a long-term relationship. OF COURSE I want to meet with them even, on occasion, at my own travel expense. And of course this is after I’ve pre-qualified them. Then again it’s seldom that someone calls me who I don’t already know about — the nature of working within a niche market.
Mike, I think the best thing for you is to spend time on the phone asking a LOT of questions before setting a face to face meeting. Try to keep the information flow one sided with you asking the majority of the questions. For anything which they ask which heads towards them fishing for information or looking for free consulting, simply say something like, “That’s a great question. We should talk about that in depth when we meet in person.” You should be able to verify if the prospect is real or not if they have two things: a budget and a timetable. Without both the chances of the inquiry being real are slim.
October 13, 2009 at 3:36 pm
As a “one man band” working out of a home office, I often discourage a meeting in person unless I
pre-qualify them. Normally I get as much information as possible from them and then tell them I’ll send you a preliminary proposal/quote for their project. Once they see the quote I’ll meet with them if they are still interested.
I’m not going to meet them if they think a 3 day shoot and 4 day edit is going to be say…$2,000.
Of course you charge them for pre-production meetings. But when it’s more informational in nature, I prefer phone calls. You can tell pretty quickly if this potential client is worth meeting with.
October 13, 2009 at 5:18 pm
[Nick Griffin] “From my perspective meeting face to face is almost a no-brainer. I’m not selling a product or one time transaction, but rather a long-term relationship. OF COURSE I want to meet with them even, on occasion, at my own travel expense. And of course this is after I’ve pre-qualified them. Then again it’s seldom that someone calls me who I don’t already know about — the nature of working within a niche market.”
Once again, as always, I am in agreement with Nick. (Now why am I and the others present not surprised at this?) ;o)
You are selling yourself ultimately. When boxes of software are a dime a dozen and advanced techniques of every size and description are free on the net, it isn’t technique nor ability that you are selling — it is your ability to come through for the client and solve their issues while providing the unique value that you bring to their situation.
That gets communicated one-on-one, not in an email.
Thanks Nick for getting it down to the real nitty gritty.
October 13, 2009 at 5:30 pm
[Ron Lindeboom] “You are selling yourself ultimately.”
It’s very much like a first date or an audition, and vast amounts of information are communicated (both verbally and non-verbally) in face to face meetings that can’t be exchanged in any other way.
Needless to say, I also very much agree with Nick and Ron.
David Roth Weiss
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™
A forum host of Creative COW’s Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.
October 13, 2009 at 9:35 pm
When a paying client asks you to meet about a potential new project, you go.
Very often I have walked out of a meeting saying to myself or my colleague “we could NOT have done that over the phone.”
A few years ago a new lead asked me up to their office in an adjacent state. 3 hour drive each way. But we got a lot more info than we could get from a conference call or website. Meet and greet with principals, tour of office and R+D department – learned what a CNC machine does – and learned about the company.
Only from such an experience can you know intimately enough about a company so that you yourself become an evangelist of their products. And that is what a client wants in a contractor. If they want a guy to push buttons they can open the yellow pages. But if they want someone to help them bring their product to market and to share the vision, you meet them, you dine with them and you get to know them.
And of course you do all this on your dime – this is an investment in future business. Sometimes you don’t get the business, or at least not right away. But you now have a budding relationship with someone. Eventually you will score!
October 14, 2009 at 2:04 am
I’ve always said two things about meeting in person. If I could get an interview for a job (that I was qualified for), I could get an offer. And if I can get a face to face meeting with a client (who’s serious about a project), I can get the job.
Unfortunately, I’m not batting a thousand on either of those. But I believe that most of the time the reason people hire us is because they like us. We’re laid back, we’re brutally honest, we don’t blow smoke up people’s nether regions and we truly want to help our clients meet THEIR objectives. Sure we do good quality work, we have high-end equipment, we have experienced people, we have creative ideas. But I believe people want to work with others they like, they trust and they feel comfortable about. They also want to work with people they believe understand their problems and know how to help them solve them.
So I’ll meet face to face every time if given the chance with legitimate potential clients. Heck…we try to take clients out to a lunch or dinner once a year just as a “thanks” for them doing business with us. I believe doing stuff like that helps clients’ feel like we’re not just trying to make a buck off of them. But we truly want to help them succeed.
Magnetic Image, Inc.
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