top of page

How to sell clients what they need rather than what they want

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

As creatives, our job is often to be the translator between clients and their customers. When a potential client approaches you about a new project, they might give a very specific brief - but what if you know that is not addressing the real problem?

Perhaps you can offer a different service or team up with another creative.

For example, let's say your client is asking for new Facebook ads but you can see that the real problem is their website. How can you use your advisory role to help your client find the best solution? Let's get in to it!

managing clients


  • Always address the problem, not the solution first

  • Listen and sympathise

  • Be prepared to be the wrong person for the job

  • Play the long game

  • Explain the new strategy

Always address the problem, not the solution first

Before you start any project, you probably have a more in depth chat with a potential customer to understand what they are asking for. As you do this, pay careful attention to the way they describe their problems and WHY they think this is the right solution. Don't be afraid to ask directly about their reasoning and what they want to accomplish with the end result. Having a clear measuring stick of success will also help you when you start creating.

Listen and sympathise

Even if there is a better solution, be empathetic to the fact that your client has their mind set on a specific service. They might have spent a lot of time looking up estimated prices, timelines and what to expect so changing the scope might feel a little bit intimidating at first. Be clear about why you might suggest something else and what benefits it brings to them.

An approach like "you mentioned that this is your biggest problem and in my experience, service B can do a better job than service A that you have asked for. Would you mind if I talked you though how service B might be a better fit?"

If the client is not open to trying a different service, it is up to you if you want to move forward. If you anticipate the client being unhappy with the result, perhaps the project will bring you more problems rather than helping your business.

Be prepared to be the wrong person for the job

Putting someone else's needs over your own is a powerful trust builder. If you think a different creative can do a better job, you show that you truly care about the client getting the best results rather than just making more money. That will come back to you in a very positive way. If you are clear on what you can't do, you will also be very honest and do a good job when the client approaches you about something in your wheelhouse.

If you are not the right person for the job, you can still take on the project and hire someone that is. This way, the client who already approached you does not need to meet with more people but rather your role is as the project manager. This can be a great way to get more revenue in your business and find interesting collaborations. Check out our podcast episode on collaborations and working with other creatives.

Play the long game

Be realistic about your clients budget and needs. If a client approaches you with a budget for a small project, they probably can't afford to build a new app, create a long animation or launch a Youtube channel - even if it would be better for their business.

Show that you sympathise with the clients situation and that you are thinking about your long term relationship with them. Sometimes asking someone to start smaller or even come back later after they get more funding is a more sustainable option.

It can feel scary to stand your ground but this is the best way I have found to really work with people that value your expertise and who see you as a partner.

Explain the new strategy

We all know that after a big meeting, once the adrenalin is gone, it can be hard to remember exactly what you agreed upon. This is where a clear proposal comes in. This is a way for you to show in more details the reasoning for your suggestions and what to expect when they work with you.

In your proposal, be clear, positive and write in a way that makes your solution easy to follow. Use images, timelines and any other graphic skills you have to convey your information in the easiest way possible - it's so much friendlier this way!

Need some creative collaboration partners, why don't you come join our creative family! We are a very friendly bunch and we also post exclusive freebies just for the group. See you there!


Screen Shot 2020-08-15 at 21.45.18.png

Do you need files from clients but it always takes way too long? 

Kayla makes it easy for your clients to send you copy, photos or anything else you need to move forward. No email chains, attachments or sharing links needed. We even remind them for you!

bottom of page