Clients: The Ever-Changing Puzzle

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
Sam Walton

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Sam Walton – Founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club

To get customers, you must be good at what you do, but the only way to be good is to get customers. This seems like a never ending cycle. Truthfully though, you really just need to get that first client and keep them! Then you can work off that to get more and more clients until you are a successful business. I know this is a little like “draw the rest of the owl“. That’s why learning how to keep a client you’ve got is very important. you could have a hundred clients but if they all leave you for another business or are dissatisfied in the end, then you might as well have just had none.

One of the more popular myths that go around about clients is that you need to get them to trust you as soon as possible. if they trust you, then that means all the problems in the future will be much easier to fix. Paul Glenn and Maria McManus looked at this in their book The Geek Leader’s Handbook and realized that this idea of quick trust was flawed in two ways. First, clients a lot of the time don’t really know what they are asking for. They aren’t the experts. They typically have an idea of what they want but most of the time this is either literally impossible to do or would take so much time and money that it would be practically. This means that right at the start you have to let them down. What they are thinking will likely never actually come to fruition. This dumbs down the chances of your client being on your side by a lot.

Second, they realized that with a client, you shouldn’t try to build trust by telling them or showing them how much you know. If you are the most skilled programmer on earth, in their minds, that doesn’t give you any excuses. All they care about is how well and how fast you get the job they hired you to do done. They could care less about your doctorate in computer science.

Something that is extremely important when meeting with a client for the first time is looking at the situation from your client’s point of view. think about how they are feeling and why they need help doing what it is you are skilled at. Paul Glenn and Maria McManus say that the client is feeling about 80% hope and 20% fear. They are inc control of the situation, having hired you. They know what they want and that if you can’t give it to them they will just go to the next person. on the other hand, a newly hired consultant will feel about 20% hope and 80% fear. What if you can’t do what they want? Are you waiting your time? What if they become difficult to deal with? As the person who is being paid to do what another person wants, you don’t want that person taking advantage of you. Like so:

Something important to remember is that your clients are all different. They all have their own needs and priorities. While these guidelines are helpful for most clients, they won’t work for some. People are immensely complicated and have many differences. You never know which one you will get walking into your door next. The most important thing is to go out there and work hard trying to do your best for the client. That’s how you gain trust.