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At the end of a project, there are a couple of things you can do. You can hand the files or materials off to the client, a printer or upload them to a server. Then, you bill it and forget it.
A better idea is to conduct a follow-up meeting. Sales and building client relations are, or should be, an ongoing process. A follow-up meeting helps to enhance value, fortify trust and cement the relationship. It helps you do a better job next time around. It differentiates you from the other guys whose policy is: Do it, bill it and forget it.
Schedule a Follow-up Meeting
Those other guys are going to be spending a lot of time and money finding a steady stream of new clients, rather than leveraging their existing clients for additional business. The truth is in the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Rule. When applied to business, the Rule states that 80 percent of your business revenue comes from 20 percent of your clients.
It can cost up to five times more to land a new client than it does to build on your existing ones.
That little tidbit is a handy piece of information to mull over in your mind. To keep it company, here’s another factoid: It can cost up to five times more to land a new client than it does to build on your existing ones. Some sources go so far as to say 10 percent. Suddenly, it becomes apparent why you should foster and build on your current client relationships. The follow-up meeting is one tactic to help you do that.
When the project is completed, set up a meeting with your client. A lunch is handy for this and often a less stressful environment without a ton of interruptions. If you work with remote clients, it probably doesn’t make too much sense to fly halfway across the Earth for lunch. That tends to eat into your profit margin. Fortunately, we live in the miraculous Internet Age, which has made working with remote clients as easy as local ones. Sometimes, even easier.
There are a few options for remote follow-up meetings. It can be a simple instant messenger conversation, or email back and forth. Both will give you a paper trail and documentation. Skype is a great tool for conducting online meetings with or without video. GoToMeeting is another option, as are Google’s Talk and Voice products. Always be sure to ask your client about their preference for online meeting tools. It may require a bit of testing, but once you work out any kinks, these tools can be as effective as a face-to-face meeting.
Following up about client satisfaction can be a scary thing, but if you do, you’ll become a better service provider. Here are some of the questions you’ll want to ask during the meeting:
- How do they feel the project workflow went?
- What went well and why?
- What wasn’t so hot and why?
- Was the quality of the work what they expected?
- Did the overall process and experience go as expected?
- If not, is there anything that should change for the next project?
- Were there any unanticipated things? If so, what can be done to help eliminate surprises?
- Are there updates, changes or revisions planned for the future?
- Can you show the project in your portfolio (it’s always a good to ask to avoid potential hassles down the road)?
These are simply to jump start your efforts. Over time, you’ll develop a list of questions that work for your specific circumstances.
This is also a great time to ask if there are any services or materials that would tie into or enhance the previous project. In other words, the up-sell. This is a first cousin to gathering testimonials and referrals, which is the subject of the next posts in this series.