Work Online

NEVER Ask A Client This Question

by Niall Doherty Updated: January 2, 2018

Actually there are two questions you should never ask a client.

The first:

What are you wearing?

Well, unless your name is Miranda Priestly…

But the main question you should never ask a client is this:

What now?

The problem with that question is that you’re falling into the employee mindset. It’s as if you’re saying:

Don’t make me think for myself! Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.

You can still provide value as a freelancer with that approach, as many clients will happily micromanage the be-jesus out of you so you never have to think for yourself.

But they’re never going to pay you very well for that kind of work.

To make serious money, you need to think of yourself as more of a consultant.

And that means being a lot more proactive.

Let’s look at an example…

Say you’re a copywriter and you’re writing an email series for a client. They gave you a bulleted list of what each email should contain and you got to work.

But now you’re halfway through and you realize that the sequence they created doesn’t flow very well and is unlikely to engage subscribers.

You could voice these concerns to the client and end with the infamous question:

So… what now?

Or, you could adopt the role of a badass proactive consultant, sketch out a few options, and give your recommendation.

Something like this:

So that’s the situation.

Here are a few options for moving forward:

a) We can stick with the planned sequence and see how subscribers respond to it.

  • This would require no additional time but as noted above, I don’t think the results will be as good as they can be.

b) We can add another email between #3 and #4 explaining [some crucial thing]. I can whip up a draft of that for you.

  • This would require an extra 2 hours of my time (and would therefore add $X to your budget), but I could have it done for you by tomorrow and I think it would be a big improvement.

c) We can start over and restructure the whole series.

  • Definitely an option but I think it’s overkill at this stage and it would set you back quite a bit on time and budget.

I recommend we try option b above. We could launch with that, then measure the response to see what additional changes would be beneficial.

That said, I’m cool with whatever route you decide to take.

What do you think?

Yeah, it takes a lot longer to write an email like that, but you save the client a lot of time and mental effort, which they will be very grateful for.

Give this a try next time you get stuck on a client project.

Don’t just ask them “what now?”

Be proactive and make a few suggestions yourself.

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