If you want to build relationships with clients that matter, that last, that provide real income, then you MUST listen to this podcast. It is FAR easier to keep an existing client than it is to find a new one, so learning to build a great relationship with a client you love is crucial to your long-term success.
Did you know it is 19 times easier to keep an existing client and to find a new one? That is not just me making up numbers, that is an actual statistical fact based on marketing studies that have been done. And that leads me to the subject of this is how do you build relationships with clients?
I’m going to tell you very quickly about the best ways to build relationships with clients. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve built some bad relationships over the years and I’ve learned from my mistakes and now I am bad.
Pretty much 100% the last few years with clients, not only do my clients stay with me, almost too, as long as I want to stay with them, but they also refer a lot of clients to me. So I’m going to talk to you about some of my core principles and how I go about doing this.
Communication is Key
First of all, communication. Or you might think, well, Mike, that’s just a very general tip. Well, let me break this down for you. You have to set boundaries.
Tell your client, how often you check email, tell them the best way to reach you. Is it a phone? Is it email? Is it Skype? Is it smoke signals? You know, what is it? What is the best way that you respond to communication? And then your response times? I’m going to tell you a little bit of a story about response times in just a minute. Let me just get through this next point here.
You have to tell your clients if they need to schedule an appointment with you. That’s something that I do. You have to schedule an appointment and you have to make sure if you want to talk to them, schedule an appointment, and you have to make sure you’re not overly responsive. Tell them up front. I respond to emails two to three times a day. And that’s my policy. Now. I check my emails in the morning. I check midday around lunchtime and check before I go to bed. Other than that, everything else is client work. So I tell them to hear from me twice a day, and I check my emails three times a day because I like to under promise and over deliver, okay? So I highly suggest you adopt something like that. So in terms of communication, tell them how often you check your email, tell them the best way to reach you. Make sure you’re consistent with your response times and clearly communicate that to them.
And then tell them that on the phone, you need to be able to schedule an appointment if you want to talk on the phone, because this is the way I block off calendars, and any reasonable client would understand that you’d have to schedule an appointment with them because they appreciate the time that you organize your day.
Understand the Scope of Work
When you’re building relationships with your client, you have to be obsessed about a clear scope of work, review your scope of work, detail it out. And then when you think you’re done, review it again.
And I like to give this analogy, although it’s kind of weird, but it’s so true.
If you’ve ever gotten married, you and your bride to be or your spouse to be, will make this wedding list. You make a wedding list, you take all the people you want at your wedding, you look at your budget and like oh, we have cut some people out of this budget. And then you look at the invite list in your lap. Now the bride’s side has a little bit more than the groom’s side so you gotta cut off some of the brides.
And then finally after like 15 iterations, the wedding list is done and the invite list is done and it matches the budget, right? Scope work should be like that. It should be like looking at every single detail you think it’s done, look at it again.
If something’s outside the scope of work, you tell your client you got to charge for it. So I always like to under promise and over deliver and the way I do that is with a very clear scope of work.
Be Clear About Goals
Always communicate client goals and your goals. When you have goals, you have something to measure. You should always be able to measure success with what you do. Because a lot of times clients don’t know what a measure of success is. They just know they need work done.
So if they see that maybe they hired you to design a logo, and you deliver them a logo, the measure of success there would be you delivered a logo, you delivered a transparent logo, you delivered an IPS logo ready for printing, they had no idea they needed all that stuff. But that was a measure of success.
I get hired all the time to meet revenue goals from clients, and a lot of times revenues are out of my hands. It’s there’s a salesperson quit or they didn’t do their job right or the website went down for 10 days and we couldn’t bring in any sales. Stuff happens and you don’t reach goals. But at least you need to have something to measure success with. So always have some level of success.
These are the basic fundamentals of building relationships with clients. Remember, your relationship with your clients needs to be healthy and both of you should be on the same page about how often you will communicate, what goals you would like to achieve, and what measure of success will be used. Clearing these things up builds the foundation of a long term professional relationship. I know freelancers who did not set up communication processes, goals, and success metrics with their clients, and their business relationships did not end well.
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