Managing clients remotely for 7 years. I have met in person half of my clients Some of them I have never talked to via skype or phone Long term clients Short term project Long term projects Complex projects with many people working on them People change jobs and keep recommending us Managing a 100% distributed team Multilingual outsourcing firm, I know both sides, I have clients that I need to work on and I work with freelancers like you
Can you think of something else?
Gather as much information as possible. Start any project by gathering information. The client will give you what they think you need, but in order to do a good project you will need to gather more info. It might take extra time on your end to compile all the questions, but it will be beneficial in the long run. From your client’s perspective, seeing that you want to cover all the bases and have all the needed information before starting, will give them confidence in your services and capabilities. Make sure to send a written summary afterwards. A written recap will show that you are attentive to your client’s needs and care about their business. Ask questions
I don’t know what level of knowledge your clients have, maybe you have found clients that come to you with comments like this. Be patient and help them
Many times we start jobs and we realize the client’s possible mistakes and we start hating them or loosing patience. You have to love your clients
Don’t take jobs you don’t like Take jobs that are challenging, take jobs that are easy, depending on the moment in your life but whatever you do, take jobs that you like and love your clients.
Change your attitude or quit the project. Show them your devotion, show them you care, show them you care about their project and how them that you want them to be successful. So no flicking off clients. HOW?
Give advice in all the levels that concern you. Things that might be outdated, technologies that they might be using,… During the first stage of the project is it fine to help them decide on other things. They might not like this at the beginning but it is your job to show them what they should do. Give them tools that you like to use (intercom.io, trello, wrike, redbooth,…) if they don’t have any of these tools that make your life better, show them the tools and explain their benefits. Always explain the benefits. Use the right tone and be careful how you word things. Emails can be a great way to start with missunderstandings. Don’t attack their decisions, instead explain well why you think things should be done differently. Extra patience with client’s whose business is not what you do, when there is not a project manager, etc.
Set up clear expectations Set and share a timeline so that expectations are clear on both ends. Clear expectations are the key to a successful relationship. If during the initial meetings you realize that you cannot meet their expectations, propose an alternative way to reach their desired results on a realistic timeline. Be confident in your knowledge and experience. With a relationship, “no” is viewed as an honest option and one of the very rational potential answers, instead of resistance. You will help your clients avoid possible changes in the middle of the project.
Find out what method of communication your client prefers and adapt. I have clients who, even after working together for three years, I have never heard their voice, not a single time. Other clients don’t reply to emails because they like to solve everything on the phone. Be flexible and adapt to their preferred method of communication. Don’t send constant updates about your progress. If you have gathered all the important information at the beginning, you know what you are doing. Send them agreed upon updates and try to group questions together. Your clients have decided to externalize a task to you because they see you as the expert, so do not bother them with things that are important to your everyday but not to theirs. Fourth, be very available. Since you can’t meet face- to-face, you better return phone calls, emails, instant messages, etc. This is basic business stuff, but it’s tenfold more important when you’re working remotely. It may be irrational but, if you’re local, the client often feels that, if worse comes to worst, they can knock on your door. They “know where you live.” But when you’re remote, they’re going to be more suspicious when phone calls go unreturned or emails keep getting “lost.” Stay on top of communications and you’ll reap the benefits.
When you want to keep working with that client for years
Make it a little personal. At the beginning or end of calls/emails, make a little mention about the weather in their city/country, latest news of their town, future holidays— the small talk. You don’t have to go too personal, but relax and be friendly. This will make them think of you as a person, not just as a service you’re providing. Break the digital barrier by sending a gift — a desk plant, cookies shaped like your logo. Just make sure it will be a positive surprise and reflects your company’s values. Even your communication is digital, prepare a physical document of your latest work – success stories, products, announcement – and send it by mail. It can be a simple card, a calendar or an old-style brochure, just make it out of the ordinary. Nobody sends snail mail anymore but we all love to get an old-fashioned letter. Write a note by hand; from the last batch of cards I sent announcing our five years in business, I received all kinds of comments back about how cool it was to get a hand-written card. People seemed really surprised. Be truly interested in their business and in helping them succeed. Ask them questions about how they would like you to improve and periodically propose ideas to work better together.
Work on avoiding that. A project doesn’t takes place in a vacuum, so priorities and requirements are bound to shift as the solution moves into focus. Remember that your main client contact answers to someone higher up (who you may never meet). When the landscape of your project suddenly changes, there’s a fair chance that something has shifted in the organisation’s priorities, and your client may be dealing with a situation they can’t control but can only react to. It’s a question of degrees; you need to be flexible enough to adjust to changing circumstances without letting the project get derailed. Sometimes, though, clients do have a hard time sticking to the agreed scope and need to be brought back in line for the project to meet its deadlines. Remind them that scope doesn’t increase unless the budget increases too, and always impress on your client the impact of delaying a decision or wandering from the agreed project plan – whether it’s increased costs, or late delivery.
When something goes wrong, be upfront. Do not wait for them to find out or hope they won’t realize before you fix it. Tell them right away before they find out. Your message should explain the problem and the solution. Be proactive. Do not send a message only announcing a delay or a difficulty; always include how you are going to solve it. In the case of the delay, explain how the delay will end up benefitting them because your final delivery will be better. If you have been following through with the points above and shared the needed details about the problem, then the mishap will mostly likely be overlooked and you will keep good terms with the client. Start the relationship with an open flow of communication, set expectations, adhere to your timeline and goals, feed the relationship and communicate should anything go wrong; if you follow these points you can build a healthy professional relationship without ever meeting face-to-face.
How many of you have had clients outside of Zagreb/that you have never seen that didn’t pay you? Work towards avoiding that. Use platforms like Toptal, upwork,… to ensure your work. Ask for a payment in the middle of the project. Invoice client every 2 weeks or monthly.
How to work with clients you have never met in person web camp zagreb 2015 edited
A Digital Relationship: How to
Work with Clients You’ve Never
Met in Person
• Long term clients
• Short term projects
• Tight deadlines
• Minimum surprises
We Only Trust Who We Know
• Present yourself
• Get personal
• Humanize interactions
• Always use video
• Ask questions.
• Think of all the cases.
• Be proactive: bring value.
• Ask for documentation or make it yourself.
• Share thoughts in meetings:
– Collaboration tools
Teach Your Clients
• You are the expert; act like
• Give them tools
• Explain the benefits
• Super Communication
• Periodically propose
There is no way that the project will be done on
time if we follow what you are saying.
According to my experience in a similar project,
if we want to meet the deadline, we should first
Include the benefits in your statement.
• Have clear expectations during the entire
• Share everything you understand to make sure
you are on the same page.
• Share your plan.
• Propose alternative ways to reach results.
• Be confident in your knowledge and
• Say “No.”
Strike the Right Frequency of
• Be flexible.
• Adapt to their preferred method of
• Have the right balance of updates.
• Address group questions/concerns.
• Be very available.
• Stay on top of communications .
Feed the Relationship
• Tell them when you gain new skills.
• Make it a little personal.
• Break the digital barrier.
• Be truly interested in their product/business.
The Client Changes His/Her Mind
About the Priorities
• Work to avoid that during
the entire project.
• Bring the client back in
line with the original
• Explain the consequences
(cost or delivery dates).
Oops! You Made a Mistake
• Be upfront: tell them them right away.
• Be proactive: explain the solution.
• If the entire relation has gone well, clients will