With decades of experience on the customer, vendor, and third party sides of great working relationships, I’ve found three things, that when consistently executed, guarantee you’ll have a long line of clients waiting to do business with you.
- Make promises you are willing and able to keep. From the first contact, you’re making implied or actual promises to your client by your behavior, words, and marketing materials. Are these elements congruently setting the expectation that you can CONSISTENTLY meet 100% of the time? Make exceeding predictable expectations the nice to have, instead of a broken promise that disappoints. (Did you hear the one about the time my brother Wick drove through Kentucky Fried Chicken, and they told him they were out of chicken!? As Wick explained, “If I owned a place called Kentucky Fried Chicken, I might run out of coleslaw or hot rolls, I might even run out of Little Bucket Desserts, but I guarantee you, I’d never run out of chicken.”
- Stay ahead of your clients. Create and follow a product delivery process that means you’re always a step ahead of your clients. (Yes, even solopreneurs, nay especially solopreneurs, need a process!) How you interact with a client, especially one with whom you’re collaborating to create a custom product, is as much a part of your product as the end result. Remember you’re the pro who knows the steps required to deliver. You want to call clients BEFORE they contact you asking what’s going on. Better still, begin the relationship with an illustration about the steps ahead, and where and when you’ll be checking in with your client. Then, when your client is delaying a project, it’s your role to contact them for a friendly tickle assuring timely completion.
- Tell your clients how you can helpful again. If you’ve delivered on your first project, and your client is happy, they’ll WANT you to make a recommendation for next steps. Clients don’t perceive this as a hard sell when you’re offering something truly beneficial. Again, you’re the professional. So what is the next logical way your client can benefit from your work? Hint: offer a recurring way you might collaborate, or the next more immersive way you may be helpful. (Check out my lesson, The Value Ladder for this concept.)