Yes, I’ve seen that most of my fellow web designers overlook the “basics” of getting more clients.
If a potential client orders a design from you (by e-mail, quotations, etc) and he wants it done fast, you call him back ! Yes, pick up the phone and do just that. Don’t let things in the air, like leave them be and see if they solve themselves, because they don’t. The webdesign sector is filled with a whole lot of web designers. Of course, only few of them actually know what they’re doing, but clients don’t know that.
You have to call him back, because he will also call other designers. As I’ve told you, there are a lot of choices (no matter how good or bad they are). Especially, when the potential client wants the website done fast, you act immediately.
Great, you called him and had a little conversation over the phone. In a conversation over the phone, most clients cannot fully explain what they want. With time, you will get to figure each person out and be able to deal with them much better.
Still, if he is from your town, or just came to your town and wants to meet with you for further discussions, you leave your beer, your plans with the Xbox or whatever and try to have a meeting. Most people want to know who they actually work with, even if you’re a freelancer or a company (and no matter how old a company, most of the times). Think of it as a job interview, if you will. No pressure, right ? 😛
So you have a meeting at the office or wherever and he tries to re-explain how he wants his website. If you see he’s sanguinic, you let him talk and don’t try to look like you’re way smarter or skilled then he is. Trust me, he wouldn’t need you if you weren’t, so don’t show off unnecessarily.
That doesn’t mean that when you feel he needs a little guidance or asks for advice you shut up. No, that’s the moment in which you start talking and present all sorts of stuff you know. Example: He tells you “I wanna have the text look a little softer, I don’t like it that it’s black on white”. Here you don’t go like “Oh, but it looks great !” It’s either you lie to get the job done quicker, or you simply don’t know anything, which is WRONG ! You can even be geeky about it and say: “Yes, it’s 000000, pure black, we should try something more grey-ish, say like 333333 or 666666. I’ve seen that that’s what they use for this very popular online magazine, Mashable.com”.
Now just look at his reaction – He likes you – (it should NOT sound weird or anything). See? This way you begin to get under his skin and build a connection.
Keep doing small things like this one, offer some free professional advice, anything you can think of and don’t do it aggressively.
At the end of the meeting you should already have a contract signed and advance money in your pocket ! Keep working on your communications skills and you should get more done 😀