What to Ask (and What Not to Ask) Prospective Clients

The introductory call. It’s another one of those hour-long conversations you can’t bill for – but hopefully, will convert into a new client. When we asked creative and marketing freelancers what they typically talk about on this call, most of them said one of two things (or both):

  1. Tell them about ourselves and the work that we do.
  2. Ask them about the project at hand.

While these are both great (and necessary!), neither of these topics help you qualify your prospective client before you spend more time writing up a proposal. Here are some do’s and don’ts that we’ve learned over the years of securing clients.


Turn your questions into a conversation. Do your best to build an interpersonal relationship with the potential client.

Ask the Right Questions. Think strategically about what you need to help craft a better proposal, price appropriately, identify problem areas, and avoid spending time on proposals that just aren’t a good fit.

Questions to Qualify a Project:

  • What is the budget?
  • What is the schedule or timeline?
  • What are the expected deliverables?
  • What are the usage rights?


Provide upfront advice. That’s your free IP that you can’t get back. And, advice should be reserved for the discovery phase of your paid scope.

Ask the prospect to fill out an extensive questionnaire. This positions you as a client-vendor, rather than a strategic partner. And, it makes the prospect do a lot of heavy lifting before even having the chance to vet you.

What are your favorite tips for talking to new clients?