Every client interaction is unique in its own way; some clients make your job incredibly easy while others make you question your sanity at times. However, all clients want the same thing: successful project and program completion. Keeping these key factors in mind will make those conference calls go by a bit smoother.
Establishing timelines with not only your internal team, but with your client builds credibility and accountability. If you’re working in an agency environment, no two days are ever the same. The day (and your Outlook calendar) becomes filled with client deliverables and last-minute demands. Before project startup, a proper kickoff meeting with the internal team, consisting of setting expectations and establishing key milestones will pave the way towards efficiency. Once finalizing your internal timeline, you can confidently assure your client that your team is working in harmony to deliver high-quality product in a timely manner.
Effective communication only increases your dependability, but also your value in the eyes of your client. Clients depend on you to keep them informed on the status of their project and any delays along the way. This often means sharing valuable information before clients realize it themselves. Addressing problems head-on, taking ownership for them, and forming solutions prevents major snags in the project and maintains your high level of responsibility. An example of excellent internal communication consists of timely status updates and proper tracking of deliverables to ensure that your client is receiving accurate updates about their project.
Stay within Scope
A client/vendor relationship begins with an agreement- a contract or statement of work (SOW) that serves as the foundation of a working partnership. This contract also serves as a guideline for your project; it outlines key deliverables and an estimated timeline in which you are to carry out the project and almost serves as your project Bible of some sorts. This is important because when you’re working within an agency environment in which processes are heavily based on client preferences, your first instinct is to automatically say yes to all client requests, some of which may stray outside of scope. Having a respectful conversation with your client to reinforce the outlined terms in your contract can avoid any surprises for your internal team, maintain your established timeline, and set expectations. Experienced PMs can take it a step further and capitalize upon a client’s business need by including more hours and resources in a renewed contract, thus organically growing their account.
Becoming a Subject Matter Expert
When pitching a proposal to a potential client, the most important thing to emphasize is your expertise in your industry. If your potential client is willing to outsource a particular task or program, they are obviously going to choose a vendor who needs as little hand-holding as possible. Becoming a subject matter expert in not only your industry, but your particular project and/or program type establishes a foundation of trust and reliability between your company and the client. What do your other clients do? or Does this usually happen in other projects your company manages? are very common questions that you can expect, especially if your client contact does not have experience managing similar projects. Providing a high-level benchmark gives direction to your program and solidifies your role within the industry in the eyes of your client.
About the Author: Vishal Sheth is a Senior Project Analyst at Source One Management Services. Experienced in a wide range of categories including healthcare and life sciences, Sheth is adept at influencing, engaging, and advising various stakeholders to drive efficiency throughout the sourcing process. He regularly helps clients achieve their savings goals, conducting supplier identification and qualification activities, leading RFX processes, and managing vendor negotiations.