Nobody likes a big-mouth… in any sense of the word. But just like Internet Explorer and crappy designs, we keep encountering them regularly. So this article is about dealing with that sort of clients.
We have covered how to deal with various types of clients, and we also did a separate article about dealing with stupid clients, but big-mouthed clients are different. They are not necessarily stupid nor do they appear any different from normal clients but they have big-mouths. Let me elaborate. These are the people who speak more and think less.
They think action will get them things done, not planning. They won’t have a very clear idea of their project so when they give you the brief, it would be vague. When you design something, they don’t like it and show you a website that doesn’t look anything like their brief and would want you to design the whole thing once again.
They will also have silly irrelevant questions. I remember a 50 year old guy asking the designer “why did Microsoft jump from Windows 3.11 straight to Windows 95?”
All designers encounter such clients, freelancers more often than the rest. But how can you spot them? And, how can you help them make the right decisions and turn the deal into a great business deal not only for yourself but for them as well? Let’s find out.
Spotting a Big-mouth
This specie of the clients is more common than you can imagine. They can be a headache but only if you don’t know how to coordinate with them. I say this because – as I said earlier – they are NOT stupid. They just assume that you will show them examples and they will then decide what suits them the best. They also keep changing their minds and keep asking you to make changes.
The good things about these big-mouths are that they are easy to talk to and they do listen to you. So when you try to help them, they do embrace it and appreciate it. But how can we do this, we’ll cover in just a few moments, right here we should only focus on spotting them early on so that they can be dealt accordingly.
Here’s a list of the 4 characteristics these clients usually have:
- They sound really motivated.
- They come across as easy to talk to people, unlike those corporate managers who are too formal and too business-like.
- They may sound a little unclear of their own idea. Their brief can include sentences like: “could you show us” or “if you could make us an example of.”
- They somewhere say something along these lines: “We were thinking something like …. but you’re the expert.” They iterate that you are the expert.
How to Deal with Them
I have learned that dealing with these clients is much easier compared to of the other types of clients that trouble. That is because these people are not stupid and they are willing to listen to you. All the problems that occur only do so because we just start acting on the design brief without realizing whether client has a clear vision or not. That’s not a good idea.
Now we know that these clients don’t seem firm on their ideas. This means they can change their minds half way. They stumble upon a website that they like, they tell you do forget the old design and do something like this cool site. They may try to add or drop elements mid-project. All this happens only because they didn’t have a clear vision and we didn’t help them make one.
So if all your problems can be solved just by helping the clients make crystal-clear plans for their projects. This includes:
- Show them loads of kinds of graphics so that they can decide which ones they would want in their project.
- Show them all the examples of functions (blog, video gallery) their website can hold.
- Define the perks and drawbacks of each graphic element and functionality to help them make a clear sketch of their final design in their minds.
- Write the specifications of the project that have been finalized, mention the amount of revisions, and attach these documents with your invoice.
- Make sure you make a professional-grade invoice with schedule of payment so that you never end up on the losing end.
If you follow the above mentioned five aspects, I’m you won’t have any trouble with these clients now. The thing is that it’s all in communication. If you can show them all the options they have, and they themselves decide what to put and what leave, then you’ll see that they won’t change their minds that easily. People usually change their minds only when they find something new. If you have already shown them everything there is, they are unlikely to change their minds.
Secondly, everything has been written down now. It’s been formalized so they know changing it will cost them extra.
Things to Remember
Apart from things that we have cleared above, there are some other things that you should keep in mind while doing business with these clients.
Sound professional but not confusing
There’s an old saying in the IT industry, “can’t convince them, confuse them” this does work sometimes but there’s Punjabi proverb that I always follow “Don’t hit your horses and donkeys with the same stick“. What it means is that different people need to be treated differently. These clients love the designers whom they can ask anything and whom they can understand. Make sure you are that person.
Stay ready for negotiations
Big-mouths are negotiators. Stay ready for that. Since they are already friendly with you and they speak before really waiting to evaluate the situation, negotiations are in the reflexes. If you stick to one price, they may not like that. Sticking with your charges is a good idea for corporate clients but not these small business guys.
Charge for the unsaid things
You helped them make clear plans. You have given your time and shared your experience with them. This is not something that can be added to the invoice… even if it could, it wouldn’t be a good idea to put it there. This is the stuff that allows you to charge more than the ordinary guys in the market. This is the difference between you and your competitors.
Helping your clients plan and allowing them to create clear visions for their projects is a good idea for all kinds of clients. This will help both parties (you and the client) to come on the same page, share same goals and be happy with the same results.