4 Things Creatives Must Do After a Sales Meeting

4 Things Creatives Must Do After a Sales Meeting

If you missed my original blog post called “7 things Creatives Must do Before a Sales Meeting”, take a moment and go back and read that.

Here you are. You just finished meeting with a potential client or customer. Although you haven’t booked the work just yet, the prospect is interested in next steps. Aside from the obvious (which is to write a proposal and send the prospect your proposal), there are five things you should do to help increase your odds of landing the deal.

  1. Send a Recap Email. The second you get home—literally the second, before you do anything else—draft a recap email to send to your prospect. First of all, say thanks to the potential client for offering his or her time to meet.

“Hey Mark, thanks so much for taking the time to meet today! I know your time is valuable, so I really appreciate you setting aside an hour to talk.”

Then, recap what you discussed in a few simple statements:

“I loved hearing more about your design project idea. I agree with you that your business would benefit from having an expertly designed overview brochure. I love your suggestion about having it be highly visual over highly text-based.”

Then, tell them what are your next steps, and when they can expect these next steps.

“From here, I will draft a proposal based on your request and will get it to you by end of day Thursday. Does that work for you?”

Finally, thank them again and indicate your desire to earn the business:

“Thanks again. I really hope we get the chance to work together. This looks like a great project!”

Boom. Now you’ve sent an amazing recap email. The prospect feels valued, they know you were listening during the meeting, and they know when they can expect to receive the follow-up.


  1. Block off Time to Write the Proposal. This is key. Now that you’ve made a promise about when the potential client can expect your proposal, block off time to actually work on it! You don’t want to set expectations around time and then miss your own deadlines. I’m a big believer in time-blocking, where you actually fill up your calendar with blocks of time dedicated to working on specific tasks. Make sure you schedule in some time to work on your proposal.
  2. Dig Deeper. Don’t just write a proposal…dig a little deeper. You may have a very easy proposal-writing process or a very simple offering, but take some time to learn more about the project and the client. Research the potential client and their company. Learn about their brand. Learn about their values and mission, if it’s available.

Look up examples that the prospect may have mentioned during your meeting. Become more familiar with the specific project request and find ways to integrate what you learn into your proposal.

Depending on the nature of your business, you may have more or less room for customization. If your business offers a highly customized product or service, customize the heck out of your proposal.

  1. Send the Proposal…Early. This is the cherry on top. Nothing is more amazing to a client to receive something early from a vendor. It’s almost unheard of. You will knock your prospective client’s socks off by sending them their proposal a day early.

It’s important to only send it a day early and no earlier. Why? If it’s too early, then you communicate that you aren’t good at projecting time, you have nothing else to do, or the work of putting together the proposal was easy. This all may be true, but you don’t need to share this with your potential client! Just sent the proposal a little bit early, so they feel like they are getting a little bonus.

In fact, I like to subtly indicate that early nature of the proposal:

“Hey Mark, good news! I was able to get the proposal to you a little bit ahead of schedule. Please find it attached…”

By receiving the proposal early, the client will get the impression that you are on top of your game and that you will likely get the actual work done on time, as well. Always under promise (or, rather, regular-promise) and over deliver.

Although none of these tips are rocket science, you would be shocked at how many creative freelancers, vendors or businesses get this stuff wrong. Next time you wrap up a sales meeting or call and are hoping to book the work, take time to do these four things.

7 Things a Creative Must Do before a Sales Meeting

7 Things a Creative Must Do before a Sales Meeting

If you are a beginning creative entrepreneur or freelancer, you will inevitably have face-to-face (or video call) meetings with prospective clients or customers. I’m talking about meetings or calls with people who are “warm leads”, meaning they already know about you and have some degree of interest in hiring you or buying from you.


Although your portfolio & work examples might be extraordinary and speak for themselves, there are a handful of obvious (yet often overlooked) things you can do before you meet to set yourself up for success.


Here are five ones you can do today to set you meeting up for maximum success:


  1. Connect on LinkedIn. Before you meet with you prospect, add them to your LinkedIn network. (Don’t have a LinkedIn account? Well, stop reading and go set one up!) Adding someone to your LinkedIn network will establish a bit of familiarity between you and your prospect and get you a few steps closer relationally. He or she will know what you look like, can view your educational info, read your bio, and more. This might even lead to some small talk opportunities.


  1. Clean Up Your Social Media Profiles. Potential clients will look you up on social media to find out more about you, especially if they are very interested and considering hiring you. Take some time to clean up your social media profiles to ensure you aren’t sending the wrong message or presenting yourself in an unprofessional or unlikeable manor. If you don’t want to purge your less-than-professional photos, posts and other content, ensure you have strict privacy settings for those accounts you want to be private and only make public the accounts you would be comfortable showing to prospective clients (or your grandmother).


  1. Research the Person or Company. This is an easy step that so many people fail to do. Take some time (around 30 minutes or so) and really research the person or the company that you are meeting with. In a sales meeting, it’s more important to be interested than to appear interesting. Do your homework, learn as much as you can, and show up to the meeting incredibly interested to learn more. This will also inform the questions your prepare (see #5).


  1. Buy a physical notebook. When you meet, it’s critical to have a physical notebook to take notes in. “Well, what about taking notes on an iPhone?” you’re thinking. My advice is to always take notes during a sales meeting in a physical notebook. This is an easy way to signal to the person you’re meeting with that you are paying attention and ignoring all other distractions. It shows that you are 100% engaged. If you take notes on an iPhone or Computer, you will get buzzed, dinged, vibrated, etc. and inevitably lose focus on the meeting. Buy a notebook and use it.


  1. Write down 5 questions to ask. Speaking of notebooks, write down five questions you can ask during your meeting. Literally write them out on the left side of your notebook spread and use the right side for taking notes. The prospect will probably see your questions you’ve prepared (you can even acknowledge that you prepared questions) and see that you’ve prepared and done your homework. They will be impressed, and you can use the questions to guide the conversation (or ask during an awkward quiet moment).


  1. Send a follow-up text or email the day or morning before your meeting. This is huge. A few hours before your meeting (or the night before), send a simpple text or email to confirm the meeting and share how excited you are to meet. This let’s your prospect know that you (a) haven’t forgotten about it and (b) are organized and on top of your calendar and (c) are communicative…all good things to signal before trying to book a new client.


  1. Arrive early. Don’t show up late. Ever. Showing up late communicates several horrible things, such as (a) I didn’t care enough to plan ahead and (b) I don’t value your time and (c) I will probably be late with your project. Arrive early, sit in your car or the waiting room, and prepare for your meeting.


For creative professionals, we want the quality of our work to stand for itself and speak for itself. Unfortunately, a lot more goes into shaping a potential client or buyer’s decision. If you find yourself with a sales meeting on the calendar or are meeting a prospective client for coffee, make sure you do these seven simple things beforehand.


The One Not-So-Obvious Thing All Creative Workers Must Do

The One Not-So-Obvious Thing All Creative Workers Must Do

If you are a creative freelancer, entrepreneur, or business-owner, there’s one not-so-obvious thing you absolutely must do. No, I’m not talking about getting good at sales, brand-building, reading books, or improving your craft. These things are all critical, of course, but there’s one especially critical thing you’re probably not doing:


Tracking your time.


That’s right, time-tracking. Keep in mind, I’m not talking about tracking billable work time. If you bill your client or customer by the hour, you obviously must track your time. That is a no-brainer.


What I’m talking about is tracking all your time…time spent doing administrative stuff, time spent marketing or selling, working on your website, updating your portfolio, and especially working on long, complex projects that have a flat fee or are based on a proposal. Every minute of any task should be tracked.


Sounds obsessive? Maybe. But here’s the deal: Tracking your time has a number of absolutely incredible benefits, especially to the class of creative workers. These benefits include:


  • Measuring your profitability (or lack of it) – This is a big one. For creatives, your time is your most valuable resource. Although your software, tools, and materials all cost money, it’s the time you put into a project that is your biggest cost.


Airlines track how much fuel they use. Starbucks tracks their coffee usage. Lego tracks how much plastic they buy. Unless you are creating a sculpture out of pure gold, as a creative your time is your most valuable resource. You need to be measuring it.


I encourage all creatives to give themselves an internal hourly rate. Like I mentioned, this is an internal rate, not an external “billable” rate you may show to clients (it can be the same but doesn’t have to be). What do you think your time is worth? If you think your time is worth $50/hour, and you’re charging $1000 for work that’s going to take you 40 hours to complete, you’re undercharging and leaving money on the table (or you may be working inefficiently). Either way, you won’t know how profitable or unprofitable you are unless you track your time.


  • Adjusting your Rates and/or your Process – Directly related to the above point, tracking your time (i.e. profitability) will give you insight into what you should be charging. You may find you need to raise your prices because you’re taking way too long on projects. Or, you may need to invest in some software or tools, or learn a new technique, in order to work more efficiently. Best case scenario is you realize your projects are wildly profitable and you can confidently stay the course with your rates and process.


  • Prioritizing – When you track your time, you will quickly realize that you’re either working too much or too little—likely the former. Knowing where you time is going will help you see what you’re actually working on, assess your capacity and decide your best use of time. You may realize you’re spending too much time on the wrong stuff. Time is your most valuable resource and it’s also your most finite resource. It’s limited, so don’t spend it doing the wrong thing. Tracking your time will give you the data you need to prioritize your tasks.


  • Staying Focused – Tracking your time will lead to greater focus. When the clock is running, your brain will switch into “go” mode. It’s the difference between playing sports without a scoreboard compared to playing with a scoreboard. It’s the difference between a runner who’s jogging with friends compared to racing against competitors. When you’re keeping score, you play harder. When you’re tracking time, you focus better.


  • Unplugging – If you’re like me, it’s easy for your workday to blend into your non-workday. Unlike a 9-to-5 worker who has a definitive beginning and end to his day, for creatives it’s not so clear. Although it’s great to care passionately about your craft, eat sleep and breathe your passion, and dedicate time to improving your work, it’s also healthy to step away from it. Human beings need time to recharge, rest, and play. Tracking your time will give you that clear separation because at the end of the day, when you click the button to stop tracking your time, you are technically “off the clock”. Although it could be argued that creative entrepreneurs and freelancers are never truly off the clock, having a cue in the form of turning off your clock will make that separation a little easier.


Thankfully, there are plenty of apps and software out there that make tracking time easy. I personally use Harvest, although a quick google search will reveal lots of other options (such as TopTracker, Toggl, and Due).


Although it’s not the sexiest of habits for a creative, it might be the most important. Find a time tracking app that works for you and start tracking your time for everything you work on…that’s right, everything.