10 Things I Ask Every New Client
Many businesses and independent professionals tend to dive right into the work with a new client, not realizing they are working off of assumptions instead of info.
I hate to break it to you, but your clients have not memorized your website and don't remember every word you said.
Why get more info from new clients?
Have you ever gotten partway through working with a client, only to realize that you should have asked some more questions before diving in? Maybe you are doing rework because you're just not on the same page. Maybe you're having communication issues. Maybe you LOVE working with them and are wondering how to find and connect with more clients like them.
Have you experienced any of these?
If there’s anything I’ve learned from my time working directly with clients and in the market research industry, it’s that making assumptions about your clients’ needs and their expectations for working with you usually ends up with a less-than-stellar experience. This sounds obvious, I know, but here's the reality.
Sometimes the culprit is the client too. They might be unclear about what they really want or how they really want to partner. Asking questions forces them to think through their needs, especially if they need to articulate it in writing and helps you identify sooner if more upfront work needs to be done to work with them to set a clear path forward.
We all want nothing more than to wow our clients, and yet sometimes that just seems like an uphill battle. I want to help you deliver an amazing client experience by making it easier for you to get important info from your clients UPFRONT.
When I systematized this process, it saved me so much time and stress AND I was able to deliver a better client experience. Here are all the benefits I've noticed from having a standard client intake questionnaire:
I'm consistently on the same page as my clients
I have a better understanding of my clients' expectations
I've stopped doing rework
It's easier to start a feedback rapport with all of my clients
I know how to reach more of my ideal clients
I'm able to better communicate my value in my ideal clients' language
I can measure my impact
I spend zero time thinking about what questions to ask each of my new clients
Methods to Capture the Info
Over the years, I've continually improved how I've gathered information from clients. Here are all the different methods I've used:
Asking standard questions in a kickoff meeting
Emailing my questions to new clients
Sending a Google Form to new clients
CURRENT METHOD: Created a client intake form in my booking calendar, Acuity, that all new clients must fill out in order to book their first meeting with me.
This last one is automated with is AWESOME! I don't even have to remember to send the form and I don't have to bug my clients to send me back their answers. In Acuity, you can create different client intake forms and link them to different appointment types. This way, you can customize your intake form by type of client/project meeting and not make your returning clients fill out the form again.*
Okay time to get into the nitty gritty of what I ask.
Here are 10 things I ask all my new clients:
Tell me about THE AREA OF THEIR LIFE They hired me TO HELP WITH.
Because I help people build their businesses, I ask them both what stage their business is at and I also ask them to tell me about themselves and their business. This gives me a baseline understanding of where we are going to need to start in our first session. I now have a better idea of how to be prepared and what to focus on when we start.
Depending on what you do and what you're helping your clients with, you'll want to determine one or more questions that will help you better understand them as a person and better understand the part of their life that you'll be working on. When coming up with the questions, ask yourself what information will allow you to do a better job and start from a more informed place.
What Problems & Challenges They are Facing.
Along with the next question, this is probably the MOST IMPORTANT question I ask. After all, they are hiring you to solve something for them, and you want to be crystal clear on what that is. The success of your work depends on this, yet this is where most people get into trouble by making too many assumptions about what they were hired to solve. Every client's situation is unique and you want to really understand those nuances.
This is also a great source of language for your messaging. What better way to market than to use the language that your ideal clients actually used to describe their problem?! This is the best way to attract and connect with more ideal clients like them. If you're asking for their verbal answer to this instead of written answer, make sure you capture their exact words, not your interpretation of them.
What they'd like to focus their time with me on & what they hope happens as a result.
Can you see why I lump this question into the MOST IMPORTANT question to ask category? This question sets expectations and makes sure you and your client are on the same page. If you ask your clients to answer these questions in writing, it also makes sure that these expectations are not dependent upon your note-taking or memorization ability.
You might think your website or sales pitch is super clear and so they must have hired you exactly for that.
They take away only what's important to them, and sometimes that's more of a feeling than exact details. If you are working based on an hourly rate instead of a packaged flat-priced offering, you are more at risk for something going awry during your project and this question becomes even more important.
Just like #2, this is also a great source of language for your messaging. This is where you can pull language from when you talk about your offerings and the value you'll bring to your clients should they hire you.
Why they hired me over other alternatives.
I know what you're thinking. It sounds a bit pretentious, right? I think the benefits of asking it though drastically outweigh the downsides. Why wouldn't you want to know exactly why someone chose you out of all of the other possible solutions and people to hire. This is another thing that will help you with your messaging and sales (do I sound like a broken record here?). It'll give you a good understanding of what is standing out, what is memorable, what is important, and what your unique value proposition is (the perceived benefit you're providing them with and how you're different from alternatives). Their answer to this right after they've made the decision to hire you is going to be so much more valuable and honest than if you try to find this out at the end of a project in a feedback form.
If you're on-board with this whole standardized client intake questionnaire but don't want to waste time creating one scratch, just download my free Client Intake Questionnaire + Bonus Question Repository below.
If they are willing to share feedback with me during and after we work together.
You know when you're on a website and a pop-up appears asking if you'll take a survey after you're done? There's a reason they ask you this earlier instead of a survey just popping up on the screen at the end.
We are more likely to provide feedback if we were asked beforehand if we'd do it. When all is said and done, we are ready to move on, but if we told them we'd give them feedback, we are way more likely to follow-through on our word.
When working with a client, I want to have an ongoing feedback rapport to make sure I end up with the best possible solution for them. This questionnaire (and especially asking this question) is a great way to set that tone early. If something isn't going well later, discussing it and working through it will be easier. And when the project ends, they are more likely to take the time to give you feedback if, when you send it, you thank them for agreeing to do so earlier (see what I did there?).
How they prefer to communicate.
In today's digital age, there are so many ways to communicate and within each, we are bombarded by so many messages. You want to make sure you're using the best method to communicate with that particular client so your messages are seen. If you have a quick need, wouldn't you rather know if text or a phone call is a better way to get a hold of them than email? What if they never check their voicemail but they are on Slack all day long? It's better to ask than to assume or contribute to the message bombardment by using every method available until you get a hold of them.
(Anyone ever get multiple missed calls from your mom followed by a text and email that says CALL ME ASAP in the middle of a weekday? Yeah I thought my someone died only to find out my mom just wanted to talk... Don't be like my mom. At least not in that sense. 🤣 Love you, Mom! ❤️).
If there is anything else I should know about them or working with them.
This is a catch-all for any important contextual information they think I should have that I didn't already ask them about (or occasionally fun personal facts that are great conversation starters and help you build a relationship with your new client more quickly).
How they heard about me.
I ask them to be specific. When I start to see patterns on this answer over time, I know where to focus my efforts in the future to find and reach more ideal clients like them.
Which social & communication channels they use.
It's difficult to find time to do all social outlets well as a solopreneur. I want to know which social channels to focus on to reach and engage with my target audience. Even if I'm present on all the major ones, there are likely one or two that I should invest more time and effort (and maybe marketing dollars) into and if I continue to ask this question, I'll start to learn which ones those are.
Where they get information & inspiration.
I want the content I create to be helpful and reach as many of my ideal clients as possible. To do that, I want to be sure I'm creating content for the right channels (blog, YouTube, podcast, webinars, types of resources, etc.). As a solopreneur, it's difficult to play well on all channels, so getting this info from your clients will help you make decisions about where to put your efforts for the best reach (once you've asked enough of them).
Here they are in a nutshell
10 Questions I ask All My New Clients
# 1: Tell me about the area of their life they hired me to help with
# 2: What problems and challenges they're facing
# 3: Why they hired me over other alternatives
# 4: What they'd like to focus their time with me on & what they hope happens as a result
# 5: If they are willing to share feedback with me during and after we work together
# 6: If there is anything else I should know about them or working with them.
# 7: How they prefer to communicate.
# 8: How they heard about me
# 9: Which social & communication channels they use
# 10: Where they get information & inspiration
Are you ready to take your new client process to the next level?
Don't waste time creating a new client questionnaire from scratch. I've done the work for you! Just download my free Client Intake Questionnaire + Bonus Question Repository below.
Want the whole slew of client forms and surveys your business needs?
Check out my done-for-you and ready-to-send online Client Forms & Surveys bundle here.
Interested in trying out Acuity?
Click on this Acuity Referral Link and I'll be ever so appreciative that I get a little something something for spreading the word. *Just know that I ONLY recommend things that I've personally used and feel good about recommending. I've tried multiple booking tools and this is my fave, so I thought I'd share the love and tell you about it as well.
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I’m Stacy, an entrepreneur, strategist, and adventurer dedicated to helping you craft your dream business out of your skills & passions. Why? Because I think you should love your life and that’s kind of hard to do if you don’t love your work.
You are meant to do important and amazing things in this world and I’m here to help you do just that.
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