For most of us getting a new client is always a great feeling, even if we've had a thousand of them before. Generally it's why we are in business, there is something nice about someone buying what it is we are selling (the fundamental that drives all entrepreneurs). But if we don't get the relationship off to a good start, we can end up paying for it down the line.
So what exactly does it mean to get a client relationship off to a good start? I think the place to start is to be really clear on what your new client expects from you. This needs to be discussed and agreed upon, ensuring that both parties are absolutely, crystal clear about everything. I think this is also the time to make your expectations of your client really clear as well.
Often this side of the relationship is forgotten, as expectations tend to come from the side that is paying the bill. In reality, the better you spell out how you work and how you can get the best results for them, the more likely you are to deliver. That means value for money for your client, less stress all round and a longer term, more rewarding relationship for everyone.
I was talking about this with my graphic designer today. She's been running her own business for about 3 years and we were speaking about good clients versus not so good clients. It really isn't so much about the work, but more about how they are to actually work with. She is very planned and methodical, any client that is always going to be "urgent, urgent, urgent" simply won't work for her. She felt a little concerned to have that kind of conversation with a new client, which I totally understand.
The fact is that if we don't have those kinds of conversations we will end up working with clients that we never should have in the first place. It's kind of like going on a date to see if things will go any further. It's reasonable to ask questions, find out more about each other and determine if any of this new information is a "deal breaker".
These are mature business conversations that unfortunately too many people are afraid to have in case they scare off a new client. Of course the other difficult conversation is talking anything money, master that and your life will get much easier, but that's another article.
The advice I offered to my designer and the advice I would offer to anyone in business, is the importance of having that initial discussion with every new or prospective client to let them know how you like to work and how they can help you to get the best results for them. You might be surprised by just how positive the response is from your client and I bet they will start to adopt the same practice with their new clients.