Tips for Working with Clients You’ve Never Met

Tips for Working with Clients You’ve Never Met

We’re fortunate that we live – and do business in – a world that is not limited by distance. We can order products and services from pretty much anywhere in the world – and we can do it from our smartphones. We can also sell our products and services to anyone, anywhere – opening up markets that wouldn’t have existed in the days before computers, emails, and cell phones. While there are negatives to the technology that enables us to be “on call” at all times, the prospect of having an almost unlimited supply of potential customers is exciting. But some clients (and potential clients) are understandably nervous about working with someone they can’t meet in person. If you do business with – or are attempting to do business with – someone in another state/country/continent, there are things you can do to allay their fears.

Be honest about your location

Let potential clients know up front where you’re located, in order to manage expectations. This way, they will know that regular face-to-face meetings will not be possible, and that their 10am phone calls may not be met with a live person – because their 10am is your 5am. Of course, any businessperson worth his/her salt will likely know this already, having done their research. Still, it’s best to start a new relationship with honesty.

Make time for FaceTime

Wait. We just discussed the fact that face-to-face meetings were mostly out of the question. Fortunately, technologies like Skype and FaceTime have made it possible to have that face-to-face meeting, even if you can’t be in the same room physically. Be sure to treat a Skype chat with a client or prospect just as you would an in-person meeting. Be prepared to present your ideas, anticipate and formulate answers to their questions, and look the part. If you wouldn’t go to a business meeting in jeans and a sweatshirt, don’t dress that way for a Skype meeting.

Demonstrate your past successes working remotely

It’s always good to provide references to happy customers any time you’re wooing a potential new client. But it may be even more important to do so when trying to develop a relationship with a company you can’t visit in person. Encourage them to speak to a satisfied client who is also far away – this will give them insight into what a business relationship with you will be like.

Be responsive

Of course, this is good advice whether your client is across the street or across an ocean. But it’s particularly important to keep remote clients in the loop: Provide regular progress updates, and be sure to return calls and respond to emails in a timely manner.

Adjust your schedule when necessary

Your 9 to 5 and their 9 to 5 may be very different. Because of this, you may need to adjust your work schedule once in a while so you’re available to your clients during their regular business hours, even if their regular business hours happen to be when you’re normally entering your REM sleep. While you don’t need to be “on call” 24 hours a day, seven days a week, once or twice a month you should plan on speaking directly to your client on their schedule.

If handled properly, your remote clients will never feel far away. Distance should not be a barrier to building a good client relationship. It’s a big world out there, with lots of potential customers – go forth and sell!

Oct 31, 2013

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