It is of utmost importance for freelancers to focus on creating long-term business relations with clients to ensure successful business opportunities. Strong client relationships allow you to spend more time doing real work instead of looking for new jobs and projects every month. But the subject of the matter here is how to get straight to the point.
In the initial period of your freelancing career, the main skill you need to learn is to manage client relations as a freelancer. This will help you in building strong client relationships. It is difficult and takes more than months to fly from one client to another till you find a client you think you can work with. It may not be a difficult job for you to work with a new client each month. But in certain ways having a fixed client can benefit you.
Importance of Long term relations
Stable income for your company
One of the most significant risks that come along with a career in the freelancing industry is a steady monthly income. Freelancing gives you independence and freedom from a daily office job, but you need to accept the fact that you won’t have a regular paycheck at the end of the month compared to a traditional job.
But if you can build a consistent relationship with clients who work with you regularly, it will help you get a lot closer to being able to earn a stable income. As a freelancer, having the assurance of earning a certain amount of money every month serves as an invaluable safety net. You can also make more money with your stable customers and spend less time having to look for non-paying customers.
Build trusting relationships with customers
A long-term customer doesn’t only build trust between you and them. They help you build a reputation as a trusted service provider to other businesses who are your potential clients. Simply put, if you are an employer, there is no doubt you would not prefer to work with someone who has numerous one-time deals in their portfolio. A strong relationship with your client shows that you can be trusted, that you maintain high standards of work, and have the ability to provide a solid standard to new clients.
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Strong client relationships are a great way to get more job referrals. If your client trusts you and is satisfied with your work quality and standards, they will not be afraid to contact someone who transfers untrustworthy freelancers to other business owners who know you.
To manage your clients successfully, you need to start by giving clear specifics to your client about what you think about the project, what to deliver, when to deliver, how much, and when you expect to be paid. But it’s difficult, to sum up how to manage your relationship with your clients. Here are some tips for setting proper expectations and reaching them while focusing on fulfilling your customer’s expectations.
Give your best
You must always do your best to create and maintain strong relationships with your customers. Keep in mind that contracts often look like one-off projects rather than starting as long-term work commitments. Beyond the one single contract, you need to see long-term job potential if you get the job done right. The best way to show your customer that you are serious is by providing them consistently with a high standard of work. If you show your clients and fulfill your promise of satisfying their exact needs, there will be no doubt left for them to come back to you for more work instead of taking chances on other freelancers.
You don’t have to disclose to your client that you have never built a software application all by yourself, but you must not pretend to be an expert when in real life, you are not. You should be honest when it comes to sharing information about your experience and give an honest opinion about your commitment toward them. If you act like you know everything about everything, you’ll feel embarrassed asking questions you have to ask. You also run the risk of getting out of hand in case you fail to keep a big promise.
This may sound argumentative to a lot, but when looked at it with open eyes, it is the best way to keep from disappointing your customers. You must always ask for more time than what you will require. This gives you a chance to sort things out in case you mess something up.
Pay attention to details
The best way to build trust with your client is to provide the best work. You must be dependable, good at what you do, and trustworthy in terms of the assignment and the results expected from you. This will help you nurture your professional relationship.
However, this is more than just mapping to your inbox. Of course, there are lots of ways to reach a certain level of trust with your client starting from responding quickly and professionally to their queries to suggesting changes you think might be a better fit for the project. As a freelancer, strive to nurture a professional and helpful presence and build trusting relationships with your clients naturally.
Over-communication may sound unprofessional, but the more time you spend talking to your customers, the more confident they will become. Constantly asking them questions makes them realize that you want to understand the project and care about it. It is equally also very important to respond quickly and happily when customers contact you.
Share constant reports
Reports and constant communication about the current situation of the project and any changes are clear-cut ways to keep your clients up-to-date on your project. Sometimes it can be a formal report showing progress. Sometimes, you can send a short and informal email outlining the current work progress and the next topic of focus.
Anticipate customer needs
As you keep gaining experience in the freelancing industry over time, you begin to see and understand patterns, understanding how to get a clear idea of what your clients are looking for. Being able to anticipate a customer’s question before it is asked shows that you are empathetic to their situation and that you are genuinely interested in finding solutions to their problems.
Be open to delays and changes
You should always communicate with your client about any changes and delays in the work. Waiting to see if you have to delay will give an impression that you are least bothered. If you think there might be a delay, you must inform them about this as well. Ideally, when the contract is drawn up, it should have a clause that states what happens if the deadline is missed or if any elements of the work or the project need any changes. In the event of unexpected delays, the earlier you notify your customer, the better it is. Also, you must not fail to inform about the new schedule and scope of the project and any changes required to be made in the contract.
There are many other professionals that your client could’ve ended up with, but they have chosen you and trusted you with their work. Tell them or, if possible, make them feel that you value this professional business relationship. It’s the small gestures that matter, like sending a candid thank-you email.
Additional tips for managing clients
Always practice making phone calls and the conversation in advance. Practice what customers might ask you and write down if you have any questions from your side to maintain clarity.
Try focusing on your customer’s needs when you call. Talk only after they are done talking. Always listen more than you speak. Remember, your job is to understand and identify your customer’s needs and requirements. Hear your customers, even on voice calls. Try to create an atmosphere where your customers can trust you. Don’t speak too fast. Try maintaining a steady and constant pace. Some people tend to talk fast when they feel nervous, but this only makes it difficult for the customers to get a clear picture of you. It can also create a stressed atmosphere that forces the client to reconsider their decision to trust you.
Always keep checking if your speakers and microphones are working properly. Avoid hands-free calls as much as you can. Sound becomes difficult to hear on a speakerphone. If you attend a lot of customer calls, consider investing in a headset with a powerful microphone and noise cancellation system. When talking to ongoing clients’ current issues, give them key points that clients can easily understand.
End every phone call or meeting with a point of action. This is what the customer must do next or repeat what they will do so they understand what to expect.
Working as a full-time freelancer is a difficult job. On top of managing your clients and understanding their expectations completely, and fulfilling their requirements are what make it worth it. There are a lot of different factors that affect your relationship with your clients, but these tips will help you not only manage but nurture a long-standing professional relationship with your clients.