We generally classify professional skills into two categories:
Hard skills are the one you use to actually perform your service. For instance, an Uber driver needs good driving skills as well as knowledge of their city’s layout and landmarks.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are the personal attributes that make you especially good at what you do. For our Uber driver, that includes things like knowing when someone wants to chat or to just drive in silence.
Soft skills might not be ones you can tout on a resume, but they’re just as important as your hard skill set. In the following post, I’d like to talk about 6 client management skills that every freelance and small business owner can benefit (i.e. profit) from.
What's Included in This Post:
6 Client Management Skills to Help You Succeed
Here are some of the client management skills that everyone who goes into business for themselves should have:
Clients and customers want to know two things. That you understand their problem. And that you can fix it for them.
If you want to build a good rapport with your clients, you must be able to vocalize these two things without using jargon or condescension. In other words, you need to think and talk like your clients do. This will not only make you relatable, but it’ll help the two of you get on the same page much more quickly and effortlessly.
The trick to doing this — since it’s easy to fall back on the language we use behind the scenes to describe our work — is to focus on the benefits and outcomes. Ultimately what clients want to know is “what’s in it for me?” and so that’s what you should focus on too.
While the technologies or processes you use might sound shiny and cool, they’re not necessarily going to get to the root of what your clients need. So unless they ask you to describe your education and training, toolset, and all that jazz, just skip it. Keep your discussions focused on the client and how you can make their life better in this moment.
People come to you for help because they don’t have the time or the skills to do it themselves.
Recognizing this fact is the first step in developing greater patience when interacting with clients. Because their lack of knowledge often comes with the inability to articulate properly what’s going on. And a lack of time often leads to emotional responses rather than calm and measured ones.
As for teaching yourself to be patient, that will come with time. One thing that can help you master this skill is to stay quiet and listen while your client talks. Don’t assume, don’t interrupt, and don’t judge. Let them explain what’s going on before you interject a solution.
Train yourself to stay quiet and you’ll find that over time it becomes second nature. The quiet will give your client the space to get everything out that they need to. It will also give you the space to really focus on what they’re telling you so that you can provide an appropriate and helpful response.
Empathy is a core tenet of good customer service. It’s only when you can put yourself in your customers’ shoes that you’ll be able to deliver a proper solution.
You’ll notice that empathy drives a lot of the client management skills listed here. For instance, good communication is powered by the ability to speak the client’s language and to articulate how they feel.
The best way to have empathy as a freelancer or small business owner is to develop a solution for a problem you have first-hand experience with. If you read up on a lot of founder’s stories, that’s exactly where their business concepts came from. “I had this thing happen to me. I hated that there was no solution for it, so I created one myself. And now that’s what I sell to others.“
Even if you’ve never been in your clients’ shoes before, you can relate in other ways. Keep those anecdotal experiences in mind when approaching your clients and this will enable you to take a more empathetic approach to serving them.
There are many reasons why having confidence in yourself is valuable in self-employment.
For starters, prospective clients can smell weakness and fear. If you approach the wrong person with no or low confidence, you might just get hustled. And losing time and money to a bad actor will only hurt your confidence further.
What’s more, a lack of confidence is a major killer of profit margins. If you can’t take charge of a situation with a client and own the solution you’ve created, you might end up doing rework after rework after rework all in the hopes of making them happy. But if you aren’t able to convey your own satisfaction and confidence in what you’ve done, then they’ll never be happy.
Impostor syndrome is a very real thing. By finding ways to prove to yourself that you’re the real deal — like reflecting on your wins, reading your positive reviews, etc. — you can beat it and boost your confidence in the process.
I have worked in way too many fields where the belief is that inauthenticity and dishonesty are the way to make more money. While that may be true for the short term, a lack of transparency and honesty will hurt your business over the long run. Here’s why:
People form attachments and feel loyal to others when they believe they can trust them. That goes just as much for their personal connections as it does with professional ones.
So let’s say you sign a new client for your home cleaning service. However, you fail to show up during the promised timeframe. Even if you do a stellar job cleaning their home, there’s a good chance they’ll go shopping for another cleaner because of that perceived deception about when you’d get the job done.
Sure, you got paid for the job, but then you’re left to do more marketing and hustling to get more clients. When you earn a client’s trust, they’re more likely to use your services over and over again, and that kind of dependable recurring revenue is priceless in business. It means spending less time looking for clients and more time fostering better relationships with the ones you have.
When you go to work for yourself, you’ll soon find that it pays to get organized. The more efficient you are with your time, the more you can get done and the more money you’ll make. You’ll also feel less stressed.
There are different ways to get organized in your business. For instance:
- Decluttering your physical workspace.
- Setting up a project management platform to schedule and manage all your projects or jobs through.
- Automating routine processes, like the sending of invoices.
- Using a CRM that reminds you to follow up with prospects or contact them for renewals, etc.
- Creating a set schedule for yourself, so that your professional and personal lives never bleed into one another.
Being organized when it comes to managing your business as well as your clients can make a big difference in how you generate money and how predictable that money-making machine is.
Not only do good client management skills help you get more business, but they make your work more enjoyable, too. Just don’t forget about strengthening your hard skills. It’s a balancing act, for sure. Because while clients may fall in love with your honesty and dedication to the job, it won’t matter if you can’t deliver the goods. And vice versa.