Running a professional services firm can be challenging, especially if you are new to the industry. After years of doing Analytics Consulting for Outliant.com, I have developed a winning strategy that will guarantee a positive experience between service providers and their clients.
Remember - Reputation is everything.
As a service provider, you want to ensure that all of your customers enjoy a positive experience. Doing so will make them want to work with you again on future projects, recommend you to their network, and leave glorious reviews on your MeasureMatch profile. The more highly rated reviews you earn, the more likely you are to acquire new prospects. Here are tips you can use to ensure that you have a successful engagement with a new client.
Before Starting a Project
1. Understand The Requirements
Go over the project brief and discern the client’s requirements. Ensure that you are a good fit and that this is a project that excites you.
2. Articulate what makes you a good fit for the project
When sending your initial outreach message, communicate as to why you are a good fit for the project. I normally showcase my certification in the field along with a portfolio that displays relevant work.
3. Offer some value
Tell them something valuable about their project. It could be an insight or a question that would make them think about the project differently and provides reassurance to the customer that you know what you are talking about. These initial messages create the first impression of you as a business partner. Based on your approach, the client will make a quick decision whether or not to hear what you have to offer. You have to stand out if you want to be selected by a client whose relationship could become valuable and lucrative.
4. Build an airtight scope and proposal
A large part of your consulting career revolves around gathering requirements and building a project scope. If you shortcut scoping, you are putting your client relationship and the project at risk, because “success” will be under-defined and can likely lead to an outcome where the client is unhappy or you are having to do much more work than anticipated. The proposal should define exactly what success looks like for your client, and the steps that will be taken in order to achieve it.
5. Set realistic deadlines
You should know how long a project should take but you also have to anticipate big challenges. Take that amount of time and multiply it by 1.25x. Unexpected 'gotcha' and delays always come about during a project. By padding the deadline, you will be protected from any obstacles that might derail your project.
During The Project
6. Be over communicative
For my larger projects, I like to create a shared Slack channel with the client. This allows you to communicate easily and informally. Slack also has tons of features that allow you to build camaraderie with the client such as reactions or relevant gifs. It's extremely important to be responsive, ask questions, and be proactive in ensuring that your customer knows about the project status, risks, and action items.
7. Manage scope effectively
If you have spent time building an airtight proposal, then managing scope will become much easier. Scope creep exists in all projects and you want to avoid it as much as you can. Scope creep creates risk to the deadlines, adds complexity to the project, and dilutes project value.
If scopes need to be added to the project, I recommend bringing it in during the "phase II" of the project, which begins after the current contract ends. If scope needs to be a part of the current project, write up and change orders to include the scope, and adjust deadlines.
8. Hit deadlines
The ability to hit deadlines will do wonders for your relationship while missing them will hurt your reputation. Do your best to hit deadlines by breaking the project up into several checkpoints and milestones. If you encounter challenges that will surely delay the project, make sure the client is aware of them well before the deadline.
9. Cross sell and upsell constantly
As you dive deeper in the client's systems, you will become aware of more services that you can help the client with. Don’t be afraid to cross sell and upsell your services. Once the client has faith in the work that you do, they will be willing to let you help them in other aspects of their business.
After The Project
10. Ensure customer happiness
Once you submit your deliverable, make sure it meets the client’s expectations. If it doesn't, be open to fixing it if necessary. If the client is happy with all the deliverables, you can expect a positive testimonial from them, and they will likely recommend you to other clients or work with your business again.
11. Request feedback
Once you have made a client happy, make sure to request feedback. Use this successful review as a tool to entice more clients to work with you!
Your success is our success. It's trite and a truism, we know, but important all the same. Just like "the customer is always right".
Read the rest of this short guide outlining what a sales funnel is and how your business can make the most out of this powerful tool.