How Do You Build Relationships With Clients? - Freelancer Masterclass
How Do You Build Relationships With Clients?

If you want to build relationships with clients that matter, that last, that provide real income, then you MUST listen to this podcast. It is FAR easier to keep an existing client than it is to find a new one, so learning to build a great relationship with a client you love is crucial to your long-term success.


Raw Transcript:

Get ready for freelancing strategies, hacks and tactics to help you skyrocket your success brought to you by Freelancer masterclass calm. You’re listening to freelancing school with your instructor microfocus Did you know it is 19 times easier to keep an existing client and to find a new one? That is not just me making up numbers, that is an actual statistical fact based on marketing studies that have been done. And that leads me to the subject of this is how do you build relationships with clients? All right, first of all, if you don’t know who I am, I’m Mike Volkin.

Today I’m going to talk to you very quickly about the best ways to build relationships with clients. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve built some bad relationships over the years and I’ve learned from my mistakes and now I am bad.

Pretty much 100% the last few years with clients, not only do my clients stay with me,

almost too, as long as I want to stay with them, but they also refer a lot of clients to me. So I’m going to talk to you about some of my core principles and how I go about doing this. All right, first of all, communication. Or you might think, well, Mike, that’s just a very general tip. Well, let me break this down for you. You have to set boundaries.

Tell your client, how often you check email, tell them the best way to reach you. Is it a phone? Is it email? Is it Skype? Is it smoke signals? You know, what is it? What is the best way that you respond to communication? And then your response times? I’m going to tell you a little bit of a story about response times in just a minute. Let me just get through this next point here.

You have to tell your clients if they need to schedule an appointment with you. That’s something that I do. Okay. A client no matter how long they’ve been with me

must put time on my calendar because the way I structure my day and the way you should structure your day as a freelancer or consultant, or even an agency is you have blocks of time for communicating with clients, discovery calls, setting meetings, whatever. And then you have a block of time for actually working on the client work. Now if you have an agency that might be you know, you might have different roles you might have to, you might not have to work on client work, you might not have to break out out your calendar like that. But if you’re an independent or have a team of usually five or less, you really should structure your day or you’re just going to be super stressed all day and always feel like you’re playing catch up. You have to organize your day. So let me tell you about response times. This is something I talked about in Freelancer masterclass. Do not be overly responsive to clients. I know it’s so cool with all this technology. You get emails right up to the minute and your phone no matter where you’re adding me the top of the mountain, get an email from a client, you could be hiking, you could be in your office, wherever and then the instinct is just to respond right away. Right well

Let me tell you a story, a couple of years ago really quick about why I don’t do this anymore. Okay, I had this great client, high paying client never really complained about invoices no matter how high it was and how much I worked my bill rate was just paid me No problem.

I cater to this client. All right, and I responded to emails right away, like, as soon as I saw them, I mean, I was on it no matter what I was doing. If I was in a conversation with someone else, if I was on a phone call with someone else, I’d put them on hold or respond as client. Okay, couple months went by. I started to slack a little bit meaning you know what, I don’t want to be a slave anymore to this guy, no matter. You know what time of the day it was at night. If I was about ready to go to bed. If I was in bed, and I heard my phone ding I would respond. He was 24 seven all work and I wasn’t so I wanted to make it a point to myself to only respond to him once every hour, which is still very good in terms of response time. I would love it if my freelancers that I hired responded to me every hour. Okay, so I started responding every hour.

Okay, a few days went by, I could see the communication got less and less. And I eventually got him on the phone for our weekly meeting. And I said, you know, how’s everything I haven’t heard much from you this week. He’s like, Well, you know, I’m a little bit disappointed in you this week. I’m like, oh, why is that he’s like, Well, when I first hired you, for the first few months, you were on it, like we were talking all the time, whenever I needed you, you were there phone calls, emails, whatever you are, they’re always willing to get on the call. And now I might hear from you maybe five or eight times a day. I’m like, Well, isn’t that great to hear from somebody five or eight times a day, that’s even better than employees that are in your office? Sometimes? He’s like, Yeah, but yeah, you know, usually you would respond right away. So the issue here wasn’t that I was responding slow, because by any stretch of the imagination, responding to a client five or eight times a day is fantastic. But I was perceived as someone who was slowing down or not as responsive as before, because last time I was like, I was on it. Right. So what I did I realized it was I was setting a precedence with him that I would respond to emails

And any type of communication right away. Now extrapolate that if that’s your, if that’s your process for all clients, you have 10 clients, 20 clients, you can’t possibly get anything done that is not scalable, if that is your

way to communicate with clients, so you have to schedule an appointment and you have to make sure if you want to talk to them schedule an appointment, and you have to make sure you’re not overly responsive. Tell them upfront. I respond to emails two to three times a day. And that’s my that’s my policy. Now. I check my emails in the morning. I check a midday around lunchtime and checking before I go to bed. Other than that, everything else is client work. So I tell them hear from me twice a day, and I check my emails three times a day because I like to under promise and over deliver, okay? So I suggest highly suggest you adopt something like that. So in terms of communication, tell them how often you check your email, tell them the best way to reach you. Make sure you’re consistent with your response times and clearly communicate that to them.

And then tell them that on the phone, you need to be able to schedule an appointment if you want to talk on the phone, because this is the way I block off calendars, and any reasonable client would understand that you’d have to schedule an appointment with them because they appreciate the time that you organize your day.

Okay, and just say it, you know, it helps me get more work done for you. All right. Just tell them you know what, imagine if I was doing work for you and a client calls me out of the blue for an hour-long meeting, then that means I can’t do work for you. So that way they can appreciate it. And another tip for building relationships with clients is own it. This is such a pet peeve of mine own your freaking mistakes. I cannot stand it. Number one pet peeve of freelancers that I hire is that when they do something wrong, they don’t own their own mistakes. I don’t really care if you do something wrong. I care if you do it wrong repeatedly. I honestly it doesn’t bother me. In fact, I almost expect you to do something wrong. It tells me you’re human. All right. I do stuff wrong every single day. I’ve been doing this for 19 years.

Alright, don’t blame it on others. Don’t blame it on a lack of resources. Don’t blame it on a budget freaking Own your mistake. Okay?

Moving on, I don’t want to rail about this scope of work. When you’re building relationships with your client, you have to be obsessed about a clear scope of work, review your scope of work, detail it out. And then when you think you’re done, review it again. And I like to give this analogy, although it’s kind of weird, but it’s so true. If you’ve ever gotten married, you and your bride to be or your spouse to be,

will make this wedding list. Okay? You make a wedding list, you take all the people you want at your wedding, you look at your budget and like oh, we gotta cut some people out of this budget. Right? I gotta cut some people out of this, this invite list to make our budget. So you cut it again. And then you look at the invite list in your lap. Now the bride’s side has a little bit more than the groom side we got to cut off some of the brides I so then

kind of go back and forth. And then finally after like 15 iterations, the wedding list is the invite list is done it matches the budget right? scope work should be like that it should be like looking at every single detail you think it’s done, look at it again. Okay, that’s true, I communicate with this person. And this budget needs to be, you know, but we’ll get it all down. And finally, you got your scope work done. And you know what scope works change. So I’m always revisiting scopes of work scope of work because scope creep happens a lot. And I talked about scope creep, that’s, I could do a whole other topic on that. But scope creep is when something a task comes in that you didn’t plan for, that your client expects you to do that, that now you have to do, it might take you six or 10 hours. And that’s the last time and money for you because you didn’t define the scope of work clear enough. All right, if something’s outside the scope of work, you tell your client you got to charge for it. So I always like to under promise and over deliver and the way I do that is with a very clear scope of work. Okay.

How do you build relationships with clients? Another thing goals

always communicate client goals and your goals. Alright, when you have goals, you have something to measure. And that goes to my next point about goals is always be able to measure success with what you do. Because a lot of times clients don’t know what a measure of success is. They just know they need work done. So if they see that maybe they hired you to design a logo, and you deliver them a logo, the measure of success there would be you delivered a logo, you delivered a transparent logo, you delivered an IPS logo ready for printing, they had no idea they needed all that stuff. But that was a measure of success and now they’re going to hire you because now they know all the things that you’ve measured success against and that you can check you know, hey, I hired Mike to do three things and he’s clearly showed me that he reached his level six of successful all three things and it’s okay if you don’t meet your level of success with goals like I get hired all the time for to meet revenue goals from clients, and a lot of times revenues outside out of my hands it’s there’s a salesperson quit or they didn’t do their job right or the website went down for 10 days and we couldn’t bring in any sales and, you know, stuff happens you don’t reach goals. But at least you have something to measure success with. And you’re able to attribute something I didn’t make success and then you can revamp your success measure for the next milestone with that client. So always have some level of success because it’s like getting in a car with nowhere to no destination, you don’t know where you’re going without a measure of success and without client goals, okay. Another way to build relationships with clients is to communicate time off. Okay. Few things are more frustrating to me. As when I hire a freelancer, and I think they’re working on a project. And when I come to expect there, they have the day off or they take the whole week off. I had a client that gave me a deliverable once. I’m sorry, a freelancer gave me a deliverable once he said y’all have this done in a week like okay, so

You know, a few days went by her nothing. I don’t even know if they started working on the project a day before the deadline comes in. He’s like, Oh, I went on vacation for five days, I’ll have it done in a week. I’m like, that is unacceptable, fired them, get somebody else, not because I don’t think they can do the work. But because they didn’t communicate with me. I thought this whole time they’re working on stuff now. I have to push back other deadlines, because I thought this was going to get done in a week. And now it’s going to be another week way. And this is not just one time this happened. This happens a lot. So if you have a client and you even need to take a day off, just say, Hey, listen, I’m not gonna be responding to emails and phone calls per day, I’m going to the beach, spend some time I kid. You know, whatever the case, just tell them. You’re going out people understand that you have to take a day off, okay? a week off a month off whatever, just communicate to your clients so they don’t think you’re working, especially if they think that you’re open to having an email or phone conversation, and you’re not responding to them and they want to know why that looks bad on you. So communicate your time

off. And you should know before the weekend starts if you’re going to be taking a day off that week, and you know what, sometimes you get sick just say, Hey, listen, I’m under the weather today, I’m not gonna be responding fast enough to emails or I’m not going to be responding at all. Just be sure to tell them Okay, so I’m telling you, if you stick to these core principles, your relationships with your clients will go through the roof, you’ll keep them longer, you’ll be able to charge them more because you’ll be of more value to them. Overall, you’ll be able to build a better freelancing business. Good luck.

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