You’ve just landed a new client. You’re nervous. The deadline looms.
Perhaps you punched slightly above your weight.
Can I really do this?
But don’t sweat it.
Whenever I start with a new client there are a couple of go-to methods I use to make sure I get off on the right page, and to ensure that the project is completed successfully for both parties.
Let’s get you a 5 star rating!
These are the methods I use for my work as a freelance financial analyst/writer to leave clients feeling reassured, and pleased to have hired you and have you on board.
Take a look:
1. Ask LOTS of nitty-gritty questions.
The reason for this is two-fold. In fact, three-fold:
- it keeps you talking to avoid you freezing in shock, yet puts the onus on the client to do most of the talking
- it assures the client that you vaguely know what you’re talking about, and that you’re engaged and curious about the work
- it means you can ask the questions that you really need to ask, to ensure a seamless work experience on your side and helping to uncover any ‘hidden’ agendas
Questions might include:
“What is the ideal customer for this product?”
“What metrics are you looking to improve?”
“Can you explain the process in more detail?”
“What is your expected timeline (first draft, any re-works, final, check-ins)?”
Questions like these help you identify what the client is really trying to achieve so that you can more accurately produce work in line with their expectations.
2. Proactively communicate and engage with the client.
Get them talking.
I really, really don’t like quiet clients.
Because for me, when a client is quiet you don’t know what they might be hiding. Are they holding back something they really don’t want to ask or are they holding back from giving negative feedback? Or something else entirely?
To tackle this, I make sure that I proactively communicate at all times.
- When you first start work, get them on a call. Build a bond
- Following any call, send a quick email with the summary of things discussed/action points
- Send regular check-ins
- Be clear about deadlines
- Send a first, rough draft. (Optional, but I find this works well. It’s fantastic for making sure you’re not going down the wrong rabbit hole.)
3. Practise Your Power Pose.
It really makes a big difference!
When I’m nervous about a big call I make an effort to sit up straight, puff out my chest and breathe deeply.
“I can do this.”
I might even do a couple of jumping jacks to get my blood pumping.
In fact, I’ve been know to listen to a really pumping tune on my headphones, 3 minutes before I dial-in to a call I’m leading!
It’s amazing how much your body language can come across on a phone call. This obviously works both ways, positively and negatively, so think about how you’re sitting and how your tone of voice will come across.
Coming across confidently on the phone is a great way to reassure clients that they’re working with a professional (i.e. you) that they can put their faith in.
A client really doesn’t want to pick up the phone for the first time to be answered by a weak voice that tentatively croaks down the phone.
Maybe practice your first couple of lines.
Hard to do, but easier when you’re sitting in your power pose.
4. Create a Paper Trail
I know, I know, boring.
But this is so important.
Related to the point above, send a quick email after every call just to reiterate everything you discussed. It’ll help you stay organised.
But more importantly, it ensures that a client won’t later go back on what you said, since you will have an email to say “hey, we discussed this on our last call”.
As a freelancer you really do need to protect yourself, and most importantly your time.
It’s very tempting to brush something off when you work for yourself.
“Perhaps the client was right. Oh well, I’ll just do it again. It’ll only take me 20 minutes.”
Not only are you wasting that 20 minutes (which seriously adds up over time, trust me) but by readily re-doing work, you’re showing the client that you’ll do anything for them to win their approval. Soon they’ll be walking all over you…
There are times when you may need to re-do work, but be careful.
Stick to your guns and make it easy for yourself by creating a paper trail.
Bonus note: This may also include whipping up a quick freelancer contract! Don’t let scope creep undercut you.
5. Do Your Homework
So now you’ve read the points above, you’re going to ask lots of questions to your new client, right? ;)
But don’t forget to do your homework as well.
A few strategically placed comments or notes about the clients’ business or industry can really take you to the next level when impressing clients.
Just think about when you meet someone new, or perhaps for the second time — how impressive is it that they remember that it was your birthday this week, or knew that there was a big launch this week for your business?
Doing a little homework beforehand also helps clarify in your mind where you need to get a better understanding from the client in order to successfully complete the project.
It pays off for impressing the client and it pays off for you, too.
These are the 5 tips that have served me well in the past. They change constantly but really boil down to one major thing: managing expectations.
Communicate well, get organised and put on a smile.
You’ll be off to a flying start in no time!
Don’t have a client yet? Read this: How I Win High-Paying Clients On UpWork
Do you have any other tips that work well for you? I’d love to know!