4 Questions to Ask a Client Before You Start Working With Them

Jan 24, 2022

It’s always exciting to bring on a new client, but sometimes that excitement can fade fast. You start off strong, but then a few months pass and, well…it’s just not what you thought it’d be. But did you know there are 4 questions to ask a client that can help you avoid these situations entirely?

It’s ALL about the discovery call. When you’re on the call, asking the right questions makes a huge difference in how successful you’re able to be (and how HAPPY you’ll be) while working with a new client. 

Why Should You Vet Your Prospective Clients, Anyway? 

As you get on discovery calls or sales calls with potential clients, it’s SO important to vet your clients by asking the right questions. 

There’s more to these calls than listening to the clients and giving a quote for your rates! You need to take charge and embrace your role as the expertyou should be leading these calls based on your knowledge and expertise as a PR pro

Many clients don’t even understand all the services that you offer, what’s available, or what they actually need. Sometimes, clients think they need one thing, but they really need an entirely different strategy!

Even if they don’t book your services, taking charge on these calls and knowing the right questions to ask a client demonstrates your expertise, willingness to serve them, and how helpful you are. When you navigate a call professionally and confidently, it could lead to them working with you in the future or recommending you to someone they know who would be a better fit!

What Are the 4 Questions to Ask a Client Before You Work With Them?

So, you know that you need to vet your clients before you work with them, but how do you get started? What do you even ask them?

Here are four major questions to ask a client before you start working with them. 

What Is Your Budget? 

When you ask a prospective client for their budget, go in with the expectation that you might not actually get an answer. Still, it’s always a good idea to ask! That way, you know that no one’s time is being wasted. 

If a client does give you their budget before or during your discovery call and it’s way out of your range (like, not even a discussion), you need to tell them that up-front. Be flexible if you can, but always be honest.

When you’re discussing your prospective client’s budget, NEVER commit to a price on the spot. Instead, say that you’ll have to put together a proposal and consider their needs based on the goals and objectives you discuss on the call. 

Then, you can sit down and really think through the time and effort that it will take to accomplish their goals. This way, you’ll be able to deliver a proposal and quote that is the best reflection of the value of your services. You don’t want to get stuck having to follow through on a rate that doesn’t actually account for the full scope of what the client needs!

Related: How to Work With PR Clients Who Have Low Budgets

Have You Ever Worked with a PR Agency Before?

When thinking about the questions to ask a client before you start working with them, this one is SO important. (And most people don’t even think to ask it!) 

Asking a prospective client if they’ve worked with a PR agency before can seriously affect how you work with them and how the rest of the discovery call will go. 

If they haven’t worked with a PR agency before, you can do A LOT of foundational work with them. Educate them on what they can expect from you and when, and always make sure everyone’s expectations are aligned. Set them up for working with you so that you’re all on the same page (and you can show off your expertise!).

If they have worked with a PR agency before? Then there are some important follow-up questions to ask a client in this situation, as it’s possible they had a previous negative experience. Ask them what didn’t work with their last agency and what could have made their experience more successful. 

You should also ask them how the last agency they worked with could have improved. Learn what the problem was and get the conversation going in a really meaningful way where you’re problem-solving for them

What Are Your Goals and Objectives? 

It seems like a simple question, but it can tell you A LOT about your prospective client. When you know your client’s goals and objectives, you’ll be able to educate them and help them set realistic expectations

This often comes up during discovery calls as a sales goal. If a client thinks their goal with PR is to make X amount of sales, you can educate them right away that PR doesn’t necessarily equal sales. 

Understand what this brand is looking to accomplish, and start building a strategy to help make it happen. 

Related: Should You Guarantee PR Results to Your Clients?

What’s Your Sales Strategy? 

Now, this one is mostly for product-based businesses. Here is where you’ll want to listen for things like having a great e-commerce site (don’t forget to check out the site before the call!).

Remember that affiliate marketing is SO important in a PR strategy. Honestly, it’s a non-negotiable in the modern landscape of marketing and sales. 

If your prospective client doesn’t have this set up, now is the perfect time to explain why they need it. You need to make sure your clients understand that the opportunity for affiliate commission is essential to moving forward in the process. 

Related: What Do You Do When a Media Opportunity Falls Through

Other Tips for Vetting Your Prospective Clients 

These 4 questions to ask a client will transform how you vet prospective clients during a discovery call, but how you treat the call matters, too, both before and after the meeting. 

You need to get in the right mindset before hosting a discovery call. The way you feel on the inside can seriously affect your tone and your confidence. Go into the call already serving them as a client, and give them the confidence that you can execute on their behalf! 

Even if it doesn’t work out with a client, don’t look at discovery calls as a waste of time. You never know what could happen in the future! The person you talked to could remember you and recommend your agency to others, or reach out to you at a later date. 

Remember: not every prospective client is the right fit. Doing this essential pre-work and know exactly which questions to ask a client during the discovery call is the key to working with clients that seriously excite you.