Take notes. Write every single detail about your conversation, what your client’s needs and wants are. You do not want to deliver something that they do not require and you definitely do not want to re-ask about an important point few days or weeks later, that was already talked over! If something is unclear ask questions right then and ask some more!
There is no harm in clarifying things rather than delivering it the wrong way! Documentation avoids any miscommunication and comes in handy for setting definite project goals and understanding project scope.
Once your meeting is over, you have enough points to start your research on how to present the most appropriate solution!
7. Get Testimonials In Between The Work
Testimonials play a critical role in getting more business, and who doesn’t want to grow! And to get reviews, references or testimonial all you have to do is ask for them!
Your clients are busy and may not presume that you are looking for testimonials!
So go ahead and ask for one, assuming things are going well there and the client is happy with what you are providing!
But don’t wait until the end to get a testimonial, do it in between the project!
8. Negotiate on some Paid Expenses
Apart from the cost of your services, there are other costs involved in any work, like some tools or equipment required for that job or maybe some traveling costs, etc. Ask your client to pay for these expenses!
Example, you are a Network Consultant and you need to go to a store to buy some things, ask your client for the trip charge or if you are a web designer and need some stock photography purchased ask for that, or if you are asked to fly somewhere and attend a meeting for them then ask for travel expenses!
If you think your client won’t pay you the extra money, then I would suggest increasing the cost of your services so that you can get your expenses covered with it!
9. Value Your Time
If you don’t value your time, no one will and it will be taken for granted! For this keep a track of your time!
How many hours have you spent and on what projects? Some projects may require more attention than the others.
You need to know how much time you are spending v/s how much return you are getting on it! Even though your clients may not ask you for the timesheets, it’s for your own benefit!
Eventually, it will be a habit and later on you will get an estimate on how much your time is worth and the more important fact that comes out of it is are you over-charging, under-charging or rightly pricing your service?
Plus the added benefit of tracking time is, it will come handy whenever you have to justify the client for the work done!
10. Be Willing to Stop work when you aren’t paid
You don’t wanna work for free! You have a house to run or bills to pay or a payroll to do for your employees! Either way, you are not a volunteer.
You need to learn to say No when you do not receive payments. It would be hard to do it the first time, as doing so can turn your relationship with the client a little sour but no matter how hard it is you have to do it!
‘No Payment, No Service’ should be your rule! To avoid getting into any such issues with the client, include the payment related conditions in the legal contract itself.
11. Communicate Often
Communication with the client is a very important step in building trust.
Most clients do not check the weekly status reports but they always want to know what’s going with the project and they want to stay up to date!
So keep your clients updated every now and then about the progress or even any problems and hurdles you are facing with the project no matter how bad of a news it could be for them!
It gives them a sense that they are in control of the situation and that they are kept in the loop for the ongoing work!
12. Network Within to Build Connections
Networking builds connections and leads to more business. Ask your main contact in the company to introduce you to their boss or someone in higher management!
Sometimes when you are working with big corporations, it happens that the person who was your primary contact until now has been transferred or has moved to another department or has even changed the job.
If you have not networked yourself within the organization yet, losing contact with your primary contact is losing a lot of business.
13. Market Your Business
You are an entrepreneur and your business means everything to you. There are opportunities everywhere, all you have to do is grab them.
You need to market your business, you need to market yourself! Always carry your business cards with you.
Don’t be shy handing them over to someone you think might need your services and can be your future prospect!
Another thing to do is attend networking events, seminars in your industry, alumni groups, etc.
Though sometimes attending events in your own industry won’t do any good. Eg if you are Finance Consultant you sure want to meet your fellow Finance Consultants to know more in your industry but to grow your business you need to say, maybe meet people in Real Estate Industry or IT Industry who are looking for people like you!
14. Manage your clients from time to time
Like I mentioned earlier communication is very important. But here I am talking about communicating with them even after the work is done! Go pay them a visit or make a phone call or at the least send them an email.
Doing so will not only make them feel special and but also helps them remind of the good relationship that was built while working together and refresh their memory in case they have some more working coming. It also strengthens relationships and builds more trust!
15. Work-life balance