Keeping Clients in 5 Simple Steps
You have gone through the process of getting clients, whether that is through website clicks or word-of-mouth, they have discovered you and what you do. If this is your first time gaining a client, you may be a little nervous...no worries, though. Keeping a client is simple. Be you and have integrity. These simple tips will take you from the point the client shows interest in your product or service to lasting client.
As of this moment, I do not receive compensation for any of the recommendations I give. This may be something I choose to take advantage of in the future.
It's important to be honest about what you offer. In cases like mine, my field is incredibly vast. If I don't narrow down my services, people are unsure of what I offer. Because of this, they sometimes ask me to do things outside of my scope of expertise. (The most common question I get is about virtual assistance...not something I offer but I know some people who offer this service). The outcome: Substandard work with substandard results. Not something you want!
In the same vein, don't tell a client that you can do something outside of what you can do just to win business. I know, easier said than done, but it helps you in building a positive rapport with your current and potential clients.
If you have some familiarity with the service you will offer, practice makes perfect! (I actually offer to do websites for a few people in my family because they own businesses and I get to practice keyword research, design, etc) -and charge according to your level of experience. As you get better, your pricing can reflect that!
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
I can't stress the importance of communication with your clients and potential clients!
Simply look for the 5 Ws & H: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
Who: Who is the decision maker? Get appropriate information for the person who makes the decisions to use your product or services. It's also important to get information for someone who would be responsible for making decisions until the final product is delivered or for the duration of the service contract.
What: Every time you communicate, have something to communicate about that is pertinent to your product or service. Don't be a stalker. Offer something that doesn't always cost extra. If possible, in your initial meeting, give your client a checklist of when you will, be contacting them and for what. Make your contact predictable.
When: Do they prefer a certain day of the week or time in the month? How about time of day? This is pretty common sense. If you really want prompt communication, do it according to when your client has time.
Where: This is mainly if your client wants to meet face-to-face. I usually treat my clients to coffee at a local coffee shop with internet. Unless the meeting is a less formal lunch, I shoot to go to places with no server, no TVs, and minimal distractions.
Why: You may think this is closely related to the What and it could be in some cases. This is more the overarching why. Communicating with a client helps to establish a relationship with them. If you would like to learn more about the value of building relationships with your clients, read The Referral of a Lifetime by Tim Templeton.
How: Find out which way they like to communicate best. Do the prefer the talk or text? How about email? Do they feel face-to-face meetings are the most productive. Find out and schedule accordingly.
Say Thank You!
There are so many ways to say thank you!
1. A personal, handwritten thank you note.
2. Gift cards. (Again, this is great when your client likes coffee!)
3. Nice notes on birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions.
Notice your clients. What makes them tick? What are their likes and dislikes? What do they celebrate? Most people (in general) just want to be seen, known, and understood. Take the time to show them you see, know and understand them. You will create Raving Fans.
One of the chief complaints I hear from clients who have been with big companies is that they fight to win their business and that is where the fight for them ends.
In my business, the area that seems to cause the most pain is people being able to promptly make changes to their website. In other businesses, it's lack of follow up altogether. Keep in mind, when you ask initially communicate with your client, you will ask the 5 Ws & H regarding the way they like to communicate. If you communicate in the form and fashion your client likes, following up will not bother them!
Ask for Referrals
Most people get really nervous when I mention this. There is nothing to be afraid of! If you have done your best to set the correct expectations, effectively communicate with your client, serve them to the best of your ability, say thank you, and follow up, then you are on the tip of their tongue for all the right reasons.
All you have to do is close the gap.
When asking for referrals, ask for 4 things:
1. The name of the referral.
2. What they may be interested in (do research if needed).
3. Contact info for the referral.
4. Permission to use the name of current client when speaking to referral. [e.g "Hey _____, I am ______ from ______. (Current client) said you guys were chatting and he/she said you mentioned you may need some (product/service). I am just connecting with you to see if we can chat about (product/service).]
Now you have some simple steps that you can track so you create an army of people who are loyal to your business. Like I said, be honest and have integrity. Your clients will keep coming back!