4 Tools to Build a Successful Relationship with Clients

By MBO Partners | March 26, 2024

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Key Points

Good client relationships are the backbone to any successful small business.

Having a good connection with your clients can open the door to future work opportunities as well as valuable referrals.

A genuine interest in your client’s perspectives and goals will go far in establishing a lasting relationship.

Client relationships are the foundation of every successful small business. When you have a good connection with your clients, there is more opportunity for future work as well as valuable recommendations.

While it is important to seek out clients who value and respect your work, the client-contractor relationship is a two-way street. Showing a genuine interest in your client’s goals, perspective, and questions will go far in building and maintaining a positive relationship.

There are many tools you can use as a small business owner to help strengthen client relationships and keep your projects running smoothly. Here are four ideas you can use to develop strong communication, deliver quality work, and follow-through on discussed goals.

1. Write a Proposal

While proposal writing isn’t the only way to gain new work, it is a good tool to put to use if you’re looking to land a project with a larger company. Whether you are writing your own proposal or responding to a more formal Request for Proposal (RFP), there are a few key parts you’ll want to focus on.

Before you start writing your proposal, make sure you have done your research on the client you are creating the proposal for. Having a good idea of your audience will help you craft your proposal to meet their needs, priorities, and cultural style. When writing the proposal, make sure you address a clear solution to the client’s problem, answer any specific questions they ask, and give insight into your skills and capabilities. Before you deliver your proposal, double check that spelling and grammar are correct, that you are providing a clear solution.

3 Tips for Presenting a Winning Business Proposal

2. A Written Contract

On the most basic level, contracts are a written agreement between you and your client. More importantly, however, they also provide legal protection, and are an opportunity to talk through your client’s vision for the work they have engaged you to complete. Basic contract components should include the services to be performed, a duration of the contract, and payment terms and conditions.

How to Write a Consulting Contract: 6 Best Practices

A Scope of Work (SOW)

Within your contract, you’ll want to include a Scope of Work (SOW). This part of the contract spells out the exact terms and details of the project including milestones, a timeline, specific goals, processes and procedures, deliverables and deadlines, and desired results. Taking the time to discuss these details with your client up front is a valuable practice that instils a sense of professionalism and establishes a practice of open communication from the start.

Working on a SOW is a great opportunity to start building a relationship with your client. Discussing project goals, expectations, and responsibilities shows that you are putting in the time and effort to make sure you know what is expected before starting work. Be sure to discuss your client’s desired results and what they define as success so you can show your client how you are meeting their expectations as the project evolves.

6 Things to Include in a Project SOW

4. Invoicing

You need to get paid for the work you complete, and a professional invoice is one of the best ways to do that. When working with a client for the first time, be sure to establish a billing policy. A billing policy includes your rates, a billing method, timing of invoicing, time to pay the invoice, preferred payment method, and late fees. Talking through your billing policy up front helps set expectations with your client and gives you something to fall back on in the case you run into billing problems.

As best you can, make the invoicing process as simple and easy as possible for your client. That will help make sure that you get paid on time. While invoice details will vary depending on client and industry, most invoices should include: a clear label as an invoice or bill, your name and contact information, date of invoice, billing period, invoice number, client reference number, client name and address, services rendered, rates or fees, and total amount due.

6 Things to Include in a Contractor Invoice

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