Article | 30 May 2022

Revisiting your core skills - Pitching and Managing clients

Posted in Business, Freelancer, Top tips, Tools & Advice, Learning, Projects,

On the 27th of April, The Work Crowd hosted a masterclass on Pitching and Managing Clients.

Winning new business and retaining clients is the ‘lifeblood’ of any freelance business and how we engage, communicate, and manage our client relationships is key to this.   

Samantha Henry is a successful PR Director with over 18 + years’ experience both agency and in-house working for a variety of consumer, tech, entertainment, and travel brands including BT, Singapore Airlines, AMC, Miele, Nintendo, Morrisons, Kayak, Prezzo, T.G.I. Friday's and Woodford Reserve.  

In this webinar Samantha discussed her ‘go–to’ way of identifying a client's personality and in doing so, how she uses this to win more work and successfully manage clients' relationships, which also ensures you get the praise you deserve for all your hard work.  

Understanding your client’s personality type using Myers Briggs

Put in simple terms, people normally present one of four Myers Briggs dominant personality colours and one secondary colour (which will sit next to their dominant colour) People can have completely different colours at work compared to their home life. The following checklist can help you to quickly identify a client’s likely personality type;

  • Reds are very focused on getting the job done and less concerned with feelings. They are very strong-willed and competitive and can sometimes be short or controlling. CEOs are often red.
  • Blues are factual and structured with great attention to detail. They are also very cautious and often need reassurance and evidence by way of examples. They will always have lots of questions and are quite formal in their approach. Blues can also be indecisive and suspicious.
  • Greens are patient, caring, kind, and considerate. They often make the best managers but find it hard to take feedback. Greens sometimes struggle to speak up and often jump to the worst-case scenario.
  • Yellows are where a lot of PR people sit – fun to be around, sociable, creative and dynamic. Yellows struggle to multitask and juggle different things.

Understanding your own personality type will help you to better assess the type of clients you are best suited to working with as a consultant

  • Red and blue clients are typically the hardest to work with, and so it often helps in understanding their thinking if you have a similar personality type.
  • A red personality type will often struggle to work with a green client – it’s useful to ascertain these things in an initial meeting and potentially move on if you don’t think you can work well together.

What tricks can you use to quickly ascertain a client’s personality type?

  • Open questions are the best way to identify what type of client you’re working with. Consider having a call with them in advance of a pitch so that they can answer any questions you have about the brief - their responses will give you an opportunity to identify their personality type.
  • Look at how they communicate
  • a detailed multi-page brief (blue) will give you a clue as to how the client works, as will an email with a few top-line bullet points (red).
  • establishing the format and regularity of reporting required by a client will help you to understand how they work.
  • when you get a brief, ask the client about how they like to receive materials – do they have a limit on slides or ideas about how they’d like to see things presented?
  • Experience matters - looking at a client’s experience on LinkedIn can also offer clues – if they’ve been at corporate agencies, they’ll probably be a bit more blue/red whereas if they’ve worked at smaller independent or consumer agencies, they might be more yellow/green.

Once you have identified your client’s personality type, consider how you will structure your fees

Understanding a client’s personality will help you to understand levels of expectation and, therefore, the time you’ll need to spend on reporting and communicating information to them. This information can then feed into you fee and ability to communicate that to the client. Blue and yellow clients are likely to understand and appreciate budgets, whereas red and green clients are more likely to push back.

How can you best work and interact with clients, based on their personality type?

Red clients have a short attention span.

  • Break emails down into subheadings and bullet points to help with concise communication. Highlight actions that need to be picked up on.
  • Keep presentations short and to the point.
  • Always prepare to be challenged – they’re going to want assurance that your recommendations are the right ones.
  • Don’t congratulate yourself – red clients will let you know if they think something’s good.
  • Acknowledge client concerns rather than glossing over issues.

Yellow clients want attention and to be involved in the process.

  • Let them feel part of your team - invite clients to be involved in brainstorms and ask for their thoughts and input.
  • Yellow clients will want to get to know you on a personal level and not just have a formal working relationship.
  • Communicate regularly so they know that they are constantly on your radar.
  • Yellows can be very scatty and will need reminding of things. Always offer a supporting hand that will put them at ease
  • Always under promise and overdeliver.

Green clients are the nicest people to work with but can also be a bit of a pushover.

  • Always encourage and support them.
  • Arm them with all the information they need to get things over the line.
  • Greens will never tell you if they’re unhappy – make sure you’re getting regular feedback to gauge where they’re at.
  • Always involve them and celebrate what they have brought to the table.

Blue clients are super organised and focussed on detail.

  • Always be prepared for the many questions which they’ll ask and for the status reports and information they’ll need.
  • Concise detail is preferred over stylish slides – explain things to blues in simple terms that will enable them to relay information to other stakeholders.
  • Always think ahead before sharing documents with Blues and anticipate the questions that they’ll be asking.
  • Don’t take things personally.
  • Agree a process with blue clients - such as a briefing document - so that you can understand the key messages they want to communicate.
  • Consider increasing your fee for creating documents if you know there are going to be lots of rounds of amends.

How can you tailor pitches to suit different personality types?

  • A red client will likely want to see a pitch in advance
  • start your pitch by asking them if they’ve had a chance to look at the deck and how they’d like you to go through it.
  • Yellow clients are great to have an informal brainstorm with in advance of a pitch
  • see what ideas they get excited about and give them an opportunity to build into your thinking.
  • Ask green clients what is going to help them to look successful
  • get their personal brief as well as their business one and make sure that you incorporate that into your plan.
  • Don’t be afraid to have too many slides for blue
  • Have a top-line version that you present on screen and then have a follow-up presentation that you send to them that has the detail of what you talked through. Ask if they want to ask questions as you go through the pitch or wait until the end.

As a consultant, how do you manage clients with blended personality types?

  • Ascertaining what a client has going at any given time will help you to tailor your approach in a way which is best suited to their needs.
  • If you ask the right questions, you can gauge where they’re at and what mood they’re in. Be adaptable!

Can a business or team embody one colour?

Yes, a business can embody a single colour but that doesn’t mean that the specific client you’re working for is that same colour too. The perfect team will be made up of all four Myers Briggs key colours as this will give balance and perspective. When pitching to a client, it’s good practice to be able to demonstrate that you can accommodate and work with all colours.

To summarise, understanding your client’s personality type can help you to tailor your work and pitches to suit their needs - and ultimately establish a more harmonious and productive working relationship. In asking open questions from the outset and taking time to understand how and when clients want to communicate with you, you can better manage your time, fees and workload as a consultant.

Keen to watch this webinar back? Click here to watch the full webinar.