Taking on a new client can be a handful. Not just because you need to fit their project into your already busy schedule, but because starting a new contract can require tons of questions and research. So why not make this part of your work a little bit easier with a premade client questionnaire?
Of course, this won’t entirely replace the need to communicate with your clients one-on-one. But creating a general new client questionnaire means you don’t need to come up with the same questions every time you take on a new project.
Once you have your questionnaire written out, all you need to do is cut-and-paste it to each new client. And when it comes to saving time out of your workday, every minute counts.
Let’s get started!
Why Every Freelancer Should Have a New Client Questionnaire at the Ready
Yes, creating a new client questionnaire will ultimately save time. However, the benefits of using a general client questionnaire don’t end there.
Here are just a few reasons why every freelancer or small business owner should consider creating their own client questionnaire:
Land more clients
What does almost every client love? A freelancer who is thorough, passionate, and overall on top of their game.
By sending off a succinct, professional questionnaire to a new client, you instantly communicate that you are organized and care about delivering top-quality results — all without saying a word on the matter.
A prospective client might not hire you just because of your polished questionnaire. But if you’re competing against other freelancers for their contract, this can certainly put you ahead of the pack.
Avoid incompatible projects
Every freelancer has been there:
You think you’ve found the perfect client and are excited to start on their project. When you dive into the actual work, though, you quickly realize that the project isn’t what you thought.
Maybe the client miscommunicated their needs or is asking for services you don’t actually provide. Or, maybe, their project is something you just aren’t comfortable completing.
Either way, this type of incompatibility can be avoided with a few simple questions.
Improve your work
Finally, opting to use a new client questionnaire for every upcoming project can help improve your work.
No matter what type of services you provide, the quality of your final product relies heavily on meeting the client’s needs. If you don’t know exactly what your client is looking for, even the most talented freelancer could fall short.
Asking new clients to fill out a general questionnaire can help fill any gaps in your knowledge regarding their project and expectations. With this information at your disposal, you can deliver the best work possible.
5 Questions to Include in Your New Client Questionnaire (And Why They’re Important)
Okay, so you’re convinced of the importance of a new client questionnaire and want to create one of your own. Where do you start?
For the best results, your client questionnaire should be tailored to your specific services and industry.
However, there are some general questions that should be asked of each and every new client:
1. “Why are you interested in my services? What problems are you trying to solve?”
Few clients go through the trouble of hiring a freelancer without a good reason. And your new client questionnaire is the best place to start learning about that reason.
In some cases, you might think this question doesn’t apply. However, we’d argue that there are very few — if any — cases where this is true.
If a client approaches you for a new logo design, you might think this question isn’t important. But why is the client interested in a new logo? Was their previous logo ineffective? Did it miscommunicate what their company was offering?
The answers to questions like these are crucial if you want to deliver results that will 100 percent satisfy your client.
2. “What do you want the final product to achieve? What don’t you want it to achieve?”
The first part of this question probably seems obvious. However, the second part of this question can offer an incredible amount of insight into a client’s expectations.
For example, maybe a local restaurant is interested in launching a website.
If you just ask the first part of this question, they might answer that they want to build an online presence and bring in new customers. But if you also ask the second part, you might learn that they don’t want to deal with extra features like online reservations, contact forms, or social media.
When it comes time to draft your project outline, details like these can make a huge difference.
3. “What type of budget and timeline are you working with?”
If a client wants their project done in a matter of a few days, this is something you want to address from the very start. The same is true for any unrealistic budget expectations.
While your client might not have an exact number for you, this question can help you avoid unreasonable expectations before investing too much of your time.
You can also take this opportunity to ask the reason for a specific deadline or budget constraints. The client might not feel comfortable sharing this information, but if they do it can help you understand the context of the project in question.
4. “Who are the decision makers for this project?”
If you’re working with a larger organization, you won’t always be communicating with the person who will make the final decisions regarding your work. Sometimes, you also won’t be aware that the person you’re speaking to doesn’t have the ultimate say.
Clarifying who will be making approvals and requesting revisions can help you develop a reasonable timeline for the project. This is especially true when there are multiple decision makers giving input.
If your client contact answers that someone besides themselves will be making decisions, this is also a great opportunity to request contact information for this person as well.
5. “What would make you choose to terminate our contract?”
Just like most clients know what they don’t want from their project results, many also know what they don’t want from a freelancer. But the vast majority of people will never share these thoughts out loud.
Asking this type of question on your new client questionnaire can help broach this subject in a way that benefits both you and the client.
After all, how can you meet a client’s expectations if you are unaware they exist?
At the same time, there’s a very real chance that your client could answer this question with something completely unreasonable. If that happens, you know early on that it’s better to pass on this contract than to deal with the inevitable headache.
When and How to Use Your New Client Questionnaire
The examples above will help you write your new client questionnaire. But then what do you actually do with this document?
There are several ways to use your client questionnaire, each of which offers unique benefits and drawbacks.
The method that works best for you will depend on a variety of factors, so don’t hesitate to try out a variety of techniques before settling on one.
The most obvious way to use a new client questionnaire is by sending it directly to a client. Ideally, you should do this before signing a contract. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask these questions even if you’re already locked into a project.
You can also post your questionnaire on your professional website along with a request for prospective clients to contact you.
Doing this will help ensure both you and the client are on the same page from the very start of your working relationship. On the other hand, potential clients could be turned off by answering several generalized questions before even speaking to you.
However, you choose to utilize your new client questionnaire, make sure it meets your professional needs. Even the best questionnaire can be useless in the wrong hands.
Step Up Your Client Relationship Skills
At the core of any good client questionnaire is a desire for clear and open communication. But you shouldn’t just prioritize this at the start of a project.
Maintaining effective communication with your client throughout the entire project, no matter the length, offers countless benefits. Some of these benefits include:
- Prompt invoice payments
- Client referrals
- Repeat business
- Positive testimonials
One of the best ways to maintain your client’s trust from start-to-end is by maintaining professional and thorough financial records.
Keeping your clients up-to-date on their invoices, upcoming payments, and any billable expenses they’ll be responsible for can prevent any unwanted surprises when it comes time to settle up. With invoicely, you can keep all of these things in one place and deliver them to your client in a neat package when the time comes.
Learn more about expense tracking, invoice creation, and payment processing through invoicely — you’ll quickly find out why countless freelancers and clients swear by it.