"The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said."
I am NOT a salesman. But when it comes to working for yourself, you have to take on all aspects of your business. ...and that means proper communication with your clients, whether it is a first time cold introduction, or any subsequent meetings.
The approach I would like to use is (to coin my own term), is "New York Blunt". I very much want to meet up with my client and say. "Dude, your website sucks. Here's how we can fix it". Obviously, this won't go over well. You immediately create a rebellious reaction in your client, and may sabotage any momentum forward.
All clients are different, and you have to learn how to read them. You have to be honest and (most of the time) gentle. But at the same time you can't be meek. This will show weakness, and it is important that somewhere along the way you take control of the meeting. The timing for that line of control is also important. It cannot take too long, because the client could perceive that time is being wasted... and that is not a good thing, especially if the site you're going after is business related (which is will be 99% of the time).
Most clients will give you a short time of dedicated attention. You want to take advantage of that if you can.
Others will be stubborn. Most of these types of clients will believe that their online presence is awesome no matter what you say to them. It doesn't matter how many years of experience or knowledge you've built up. They believe they know better. Don't spend too much time with these clients. If the first couple of meetings don't produce anything, and you intuit that it is not going anywhere, there is a good chance you will be wasting your own time. Keep in contact for marketing plans and newsletters, but move on. Sometimes months, or even years down the road they will come across a comparison that shows just how terrible their website is in relation to other businesses in their field.
Things to remember.
- Body Language: Expressive, open, equal ground. No closed or crossed arms. No hands on hips. Keep facial frowns and grimaces to a minimum. Show enthusiasm, but not too much. No agressive tendencies. Don't lean forward in your chair. Don't push yourself into their personal space.
- Intuit the Client: Mimic their behaviour (subtly) if you can. Clients will feel that you can relate to them.
- Be the gentle diety of your craft: Come in knowing, or being able to explain everything. The gentleness comes into play in that you don't come in with an ego, or a god-complex. Exude confidence without being overbearing.
Client interaction is very intuitive. Whether you learn through trial and error, or through books and research. It is important to learn how to communicate. This will greatly improve your success in business.