As "soloists" -- entrepreneurs, webpreneurs, SOHOs, HONOs(Home Office, No Office), or plain old small businesspeople,we must remember that without a business, i.e., a profit-making business, we have a...
As "soloists" -- entrepreneurs, webpreneurs, SOHOs, HONOs (Home Office, No Office), or plain old small businesspeople, we must remember that without a business, i.e., a profit- making business, we have a hobby -- & we have to go get a job-job just to pay the lousy bills.
Furthermore, without clients, we don't have a business. In order to survive and get that new client or return business, we need to establish guidelines in dealing with clients.
1. The client or prospective client is never an interruption of your work. The client is the reason you are in business. The client must have your complete attention. Do not multitask while speaking with your client or potential client.
2. Always greet clients and prospective clients with a friendly smile or hello. Clients are people, and they like friendly and pleasant contact. They will usually return it.
3. Call clients and prospects by name. It is important to call your clients and their staff by name. Keep name and contact records of your clients. Before calling or visiting a site, pull the record and study it.
4. You are the company. In the eyes of the client, you represent your business. If you are one of the lucky ones who have several techs working for you, training them well will reflect on your company and you. Ditto your receptionist, or whomever answers your phone.
5. Never argue with a client. From his or her point of view, the client is always right. Be a good listener, agree when you can, and do what you can to make your clients happy, even if it involves a freebie (a small one). It is more valuable to give a free service and keep your clients than lose them. Most of the time. As one of my consultant buddies taught me several years ago, "Sometimes, no work is better than bad work."
6. Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know" (once in a while). If you don't know the answer to a client's question, say, "That's a good question. Let me see if I can find out for you." Even the most skilled IT professional can't remember everything. Become an expert on where to find the answers to your client's questions. Be sure to respond in a timely manner. Remember, the client pays your fee.
7. State comments in a positive way. Choosing positive and motivating words when speaking with a client will show you are a skilled communicator, and it will keep your client interested.
8. Surprise every client (in a good way!). Give your new or existing clients something of extra value at no charge that will increase your worth to them in their eyes.
9. Go the extra mile. Always do more than the client expects. While delivering a training program to a large telecommunications firm's customer service representatives, one of the participants told me she had been having a problem getting hypertext links to open from her emails. I'd had the same kind of problem before, so I took a look. An upgrade to the company's email program had turned that feature off. I ran a quick executable from a Command Prompt window, and voila! the problem was solved. That participant happened to be the Manager of Technical Support. I now have a long-term contract to deliver a broad range of training for that company, plus I deliver several speeches at the company's conventions and meetings every year.
10. Be on time! One of the most aggravating things to a client is when you're late or don't show up. Avoid saying, "I'll be there between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m." Your client's time is as valuable as your own. If you are taking longer than expected on a call, notify the client that you will be delayed and give them the option to reschedule.
11. Be worthy of a referral. The next time you are working on a project for a client, remember, they are (usually) experts in their own fields and communicate with many other friends in similar businesses. Offer the client a referral fee or a discount for referrals. Put a referral code on the back of your business cards so you can track referrals as they come in.
Best Regards, Robert Brents, "The 80/20 Guy" http://www.RobertBrents.com For your free four-lesson e-seminar, How To Write, Publish, Market & Promote Profitable How-To Manuals, email mailto:email@example.com Copyright 2001 Robert Brents and Blue Gecko Press.