Knowing Your Client Is Half The Battle Won. What Is the Other Half of the Battle?
Competent communication with a customer is half the success. Remember, it is not enough being a good IT programmer or a designer to be a great freelancer. You should also be a manager. Everything depends on how well you are able to sell your services and how well do you communicate with customers in the process of working on a gig.
Usually, a customer is mainly interested in three things: freelancers competencies, his professional experience (e.g. portfolio) and price. And slightly less about headlines.
Showing that you are a perfectly adequate person in the easiest part. However, many freelancers forget about some basic rules when communicating. First of all, don't make a fool of a client, even if he really does not understand the problem behind the problem. Kindly explain to him the essence of the question without using difficult professional terms and advice on the best possible solution to his problem. Secondly, when communicating avoid slang and jargon, and show respect towards a person. Maybe he is twice your age and might get offended by your choice of words.
Showcase similar projects if any. This greatly increases the chances of a customer choosing you to do the job. Do not try to please the client and give him a realistic time frame for accomplishing a project. Analyze your current workload and set aside some additional time if things do not go as planned or other unforeseen circumstances occur like getting sick, being invited to a birthday party or having some Wi-Fi issues.
Every customer wants to pay less and receive more. This is a totally normal desire, however, everything has its own price. And, unfortunately, not everyone understands this and is trying to negotiate a price. Keep the bar high. Of course you can offer a small discount for your services, however, if a customer wants to cut the price in half - then probably it is not your customer. Respect your time.
A customer might have a lot of excuses for asking to lower a price. Most popular are:
- «Currently I do not have funds for the project, however, in the future I will have a lot of additional projects for you.» Someday, maybe. Remember this is not a reason to lower your price.
- «Maybe you can work for a certain percentage of profit on a project?» And why then do you need a customer after all?
- «I would be glad to pay more but my boss has allocated a certain amount to be spent on this project.» Almost any budget can be revised. Isn't it? However, it is a client's problem.
- «Your fellow colleague charges less.» Well why then are you contacting me?
Before starting a new project and after you have already discussed all terms and conditions with a client, make a short summary: I am doing this and that, the term is such and such, the price is such. Let a client confirm that everything is correct. In some cases it is even better to have a technical assignment that you can always refer to.
It is important that you understand each other before the work starts. A clear statement of the problem is very important!
Let me also remind you that a freelancer should not unexpectedly disappear for three days and/or ignore emails. Make it a rule to review incoming messages and periodically check for new opportunities. If you are going on vacation or a business trip, then do not forget to warn clients you work with that you might be unavailable for some period of time.
Ask a client to share his contact details. Knowing his Skype and having his freelance marketplace contacts is good, however, it is also important to have a phone number. It might be necessary to reach out quickly to solve an urgent problem. If you are working for a company, then it would be mandatory to know the name of the employee, company address and corporate phone number. It happens that an employee quits and «forgets» to pay for your work. Having contacts within the organization you will be able to solve this issue with another representative.
If the scope of work is large, then divide it into milestones and ask a client to pay for each stage of your work separately. This can be beneficial for both of you - a customer minimizes the risks, and you are encouraged to work efficiently providing best services. Receiving a large sum in advance can psychologically relax you, however, do not forget that without getting a prepayment you put yourself at risk.
After finishing a project, do not forget to ask the client to leave a review either on a freelance marketplace space or a forum. Potential customers pay attention to reviews.
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