Had the opportunity to pitch to client today for a design project, together with the senior team, at the studio I work for. This is one of the first times I get am pitching to a fairly large client at such an early stage of the project. I recently joined the studio as a design researcher and had done a lot of ground work in terms of presenting the concepts with context and real user empathy. So, 10 minutes before the pitch, I was aked to take over and present. Here are some things I learned.
Do your homework like crazy but don’t be afraid to say ‘I’m not sure’
First of all, I could see the amount of ground work done by the design team to get their heads around the project. Being a product pitch for a medical device, there was a lot of mechanics and chemistry that needed understanding along with behaviour, habits, needs and problem areas while using similar products in this field. Before we even charge a client for a design project, there is work to do.too. As designers, we should be willing to get greasy under the hood of the car before we get paid or commissioned to do something. Especially true as a large design agency. Even so, when asked a question that we really were not too clear about how to answer, my boss casually said, I don’t know, that’s hard to say. You are not expected to have all the answers, be authentic. Doing your homework gives you more confidence to say what you don’t know. Stay humble.
It’s your duty to explain
When a client asks a question, its your duty to explain and answer, even if he comes across as confrontational. The minute a designer starts to defend themselves, they put themselves in a stuck place with nowhere to go. Be confident and explain your decision. More often than not, this will automatically diffuse the situation and the other person can see that you are making an informed choice or decision.
If it wasn’t asked, you don’t have to answer
If you not asked to explain how you came up with your numbers, conclusions, research, you dont have to explain every single detail. Some things are best left to the imagination and the muse who cannot be explained. Sometimes it might give away too much around the creative process, which is not harmful but it might take clients sometime to understand who you made a leap.
Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions
At the end of the day, it’s their business and you as the designer are there to help them build it, grow it, make it more innovative, more profitable etc. This means it’s necessary to ask the hard questions – in the best possible way. The right approach to working with a client goes a long way in building a relationship and being in a position to ask the right questions.