10 Things You MUST Understand about Your Prospective Client

When you promote yourself to a prospective client, you have a far better chance of winning his confidence – and a contract – if you understand how he thinks.

So here are 10 important insights into what makes prospective clients (who are your most important sales prospects) want to hire you:

  1. YOUR PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS NEED YOU.

    You may imagine that by promoting yourself, you are intruding on your prospects. Maybe you’re thinking, "They’re probably already working with someone." But often, that’s not true. If you approach each prospect with the idea that they are waiting for you, and they need you, you’ll make a better presentation.

  2. YOUR PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS WANT TO LOOK GOOD.

    No matter what industry you write for, things aren’t the way they used to be – not for you and not for them. So what they want from you, over and above what they’re asking for, is that you make them look good. THAT’S your real job.

  3. YOUR PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS ARE SORT OF LAZY.

    This means you have to do some of their work: Help them find you. Help them reach out to you. And then, of course, help them work with you. The fewer the obstacles, the more likely they are to follow through.

  4. YOUR PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS HAVE A LOT GOING ON.

    Don’t lose sight of THEIR big picture. In their office, 50 things are happening at once… interruptions galore. They can’t get anything accomplished. Their desks are a disaster area. Voice mail is jammed. E-mail is stacking up

    In short, things are out of control. You are just one of many things they are trying to focus on. Knowing this, now ask yourself: "Why aren’t they calling me back?" You come up with a different answer, don’t you?

  5. YOUR PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS ACT ON IMPULSE.

    We all do this: We see something interesting and get excited. We call for information. When it comes, we shuffle it into a pile to be worked on – later.

    Some inquiries from potential clients are like this. Don’t waste your time actively pursuing this type of impulse inquiry. But don’t write them off entirely, either. Put them on your regular mailing list and let them come back to you. Real needs and desires will stand the test of time.

  6. YOUR PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS NEED TO LABEL YOU.

    Let them do it – in fact, help them. Give them a label like "business-to-business copywriter" or "healthcare industry copywriter." There’s plenty of time to tell them more about your full range of services later.

  7. YOUR PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS RARELY KNOW WHAT THEY NEED.

    Listen to them and provide a solution to their self-defined needs. For instance, explain why the quick turnaround they say they need might not be the best thing for them. Offer a couple of alternatives to choose from. Then let them decide – and remember, they are the "boss."

  8. YOUR PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS NEED TIME.

    Believe them when they say they have to think about it or they have to sell the idea to someone else. It may not be a put-off. Give them the time they ask for. But keep in touch, reminding them that they were interested. And remember that some projects will never come to fruition. That’s life.

  9. YOUR RELATIONSHIPS ARE WITH PEOPLE – NOT COMPANIES.

    Your relationships are with human beings. Relationships are more important now than ever because, with so many people moving from job to job, you’d better believe they’re taking the "Rolodex" along with them wherever they go.

  10. YOUR PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS ARE JUST LIKE YOU AND ME.

    Don’t forget: You are a prospect to someone out there too. How do you want to be treated when someone is marketing to you? How often do you want someone to be calling? How much freedom and time would you like to have in order to think, to ask questions, and to make your decision? How do you want to feel about the process when it’s over?

    Let this reality of your being a prospect for others drive the way you treat your own prospective clients.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


Click to Rate:
Average: 4.0
Published: May 23, 2005

Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)


This name will appear next to your comment.


Your email is required but will not be displayed.


Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters


Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)