Need to land a client

I am just getting back into freelance web design after 5 years off and I don’t have many clients (one that I have finished work for and another that is a sure thing but we have yet to get started).

However, I’m awful at sales and I had a meeting with a new potential client yesterday. I don’t think it went well. It’s an amateur basketball team and there were two partners, Mr. X and Mrs. Y.

Mr. X seemed enthusiastic because they had been referred to me by a friend. All the things i discussed with them seemed important to him. However, when talking to Mrs. Y, things didn’t really click. She already has her own idea for the site, which is fine. I have no problem designing/building it that way. I sketched it out perfectly from her description but she never warmed up to me during the meeting.

They want more than a static site. They want the ability to upload news stories, photos, videos and event schedules and they want it all to fit into an predetermined layout. Cool, no problem but that will take a bit of work.

They brought up costs at that point. I told them that some sites cost $10,000, some cost $2000 but I’d like to know what they had in mind for costs. At that point Mrs. Y got a bit stern and said “We need to see what you can do first.”

I linked them to my portfolio and Mr. X checked it out but Mrs. Y didn’t. I have the sense that she’s the one in charge of the money. I wasn’t sure what to do at that point so I told her I could give her a mock up by next week.

I’ve never had this much trouble before. Does anyone have any ideas on how to proceed? I’ve also never had to create a mock up before making a sale. How detailed should it be? Should i go ahead with some graphic design or just stick to a wireframe prototype?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

(edit): I got the feeling that this was about the money. Mrs. Y was never very friendly toward me but I got the sense that she also wanted to pay peanuts.

I’ve not yet designed for a live, paying client, but I would have thought that a wireframe diagram would be a minimum layout to show, followed by a realistic render of a site, possibly created in PS or GIMP, that shows how (stock) images and other elements would look on the site. Considering Y’s reaction, she’s probably expecting a polished design.

You did the right thing by asking what their budget was. Hmm, as they didn’t want to yield that information, that could suggest that they have no idea what the going rate is, or, yeah, peanuts, as most organisations should have a budget before they arrange a meeting. It must surely be a basic business need to know how much things cost. Y’s request for a look at what you can do was entirely acceptable.

Did you find out exactly who recommended you? Give him/her a call and ask what they told X and Y.
Y is going to be the challenge, I think. Saying that, people have a way of surprising you.

Before you meet up again, find out what you can about X and Y, so you can casually slip those into your pitch. If you say one thing that resonates with Y, you could win it. If you find out something she’s keen on, and you relate your design to that thing, it may create more interest. Avoid creepiness.

I wish you well.