Working with a large, enterprise client provides the potential for higher-value contracts, name recognition, and steady work. Once you land that coveted contract, client relationship management will become a part of your daily work and you’ll quickly learn that consistent, thorough, and open communication is the key to project success.
By prioritizing communication, you can discuss and resolve pain points and frustrations with your client before they become bigger issues. Both written and verbal communication are important skills to have; by listening closely and asking questions you can learn what your client is trying to achieve and help ensure they feel heard and understood. Then, you can employ a variety of written communication tactics to keep your client informed and make sure the project stays on track.
Here are five tips for communicating with large clients that can help build a lasting, trusting relationship that leads to more work down the road.
When beginning work on a project for a larger client, don’t fall into the trap of making assumptions just because your client contact seems busy or has a number of other projects going on. Make a point to have detailed, initial conversations where you can ask all of the questions you need in order to truly understand your client’s goals and expectations for the project.
Each company you work with will be different, so make sure you have a feel for your client’s general process for working with independent contractors. Who will be overseeing the project? Who are your points of contact and how do you get in touch with them? Is there a stakeholder who likes things done a certain way?
Based on these conversations, write and present a communication plan that dictates how you will consistently update progress on the project. Be sure to tailor the plan to meet your client’s specific needs and preferences. By taking the time to set expectations from the start, communication will run much more smoothly once the project kicks into high gear.
Part of these initial conversations should involve defining the channels that should be used for each type of communication. For example, your client may want to have a bi-weekly status meeting. Do they prefer to have that meeting over the phone or via video chat? Do they expect to receive an accompanying update with that meeting, such as a visual PowerPoint or status report describing your progress?
If you have the flexibility, it is always helpful to meet your client on their ground. While email may be your preferred mode of communication, you might work with someone who prefers a phone call. Talk to your client so you know the best way to reach them and when. And, just as you need to respect your client’s time, provide some guidelines for them as well. What hours are you available outside of an emergency request?
As much as you can, avoid the trap of overpromising and under delivering, especially when working with a big client. If your client feels like you aren’t meeting expectations, that can quickly become a point of contention and jeopardize your relationship.
Be proactive about communication from the start, and regularly check in to discuss your progress. Even if your client doesn’t require it, be sure to document completed milestones and take notes on each step of your process so you will be prepared to answer questions that come up. If restrictions or concerns arise, be sure to talk to your client right away so you can work through the problem and resolve it quickly.
When working with a large client, one of your main goals is likely to land more work in the future. In order to do that, you need to not only prove your worth with a quality end product, but also form a strong and trusting relationship.
Maintain consistent communication throughout the project and make sure that each time you contact your client, the reasoning behind your outreach or question is clear and to the point. Always be sure to edit emails for proper grammar and spelling, and promptly follow up when your client reaches out to you.
Staying one step ahead of your client in anticipating their needs and interests is a great way to show your added worth. For example, if you hear some industry news that could impact or inform your client’s business or the project you’re working on, send it to your client along with your insight.
Similarly, sharing your thought process through each step of the project can help keep your client feeling informed, eliminating unexpected surprises while building trust and confidence. Honesty and effort will go far—by providing your client with a positive overall experience you can build a strong relationship, boost your resume, and land more business.