Whenever you work with clients, you will have to deal with their demands. This is only fair, since they are paying for you to work with them, and not to just issue orders.
Nonetheless, there comes a time when you need to negotiate what is and isn’t part of the project. When that time comes, you’ll need to address client demands in a couple of ways.
Before The Project Begins
Set out everything about the project beforehand, and get it in writing.
The first step of managing client expectations (and therefore limiting the number of demands they make) is making sure they know what they will be getting for their money. By clearly laying out the terms, goals, expectations and intended results of the project before starting, you ensure everyone is on the same page. The clients know what they are getting, and you have laid down clear boundaries before things start getting complicated. This can be covered in the contract or in an email, but you must make sure clients know that they are agreeing that this document will form the basis of the project.
This document should also make you aware of any potential problems you may have with the client, so you can decide whether you want to proceed or not.
Let the client know how often you will get in touch with them. This is part and parcel with the first tip. Often, clients get nervous that you aren’t working on their project because they haven’t heard from you when they were expecting to. If you tell them when you will be getting in touch with them, they can rest a little easier.
A weekly report detailing everything you have done and how that has moved the project towards the goals outlined in the initial agreement will reassure the client and can prevent any worry before the client has a chance to think about it.
As The Project Is Running
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Most client demands are based on their worry that you are not doing enough for the project. By keeping them constantly updated on the project’s progress, you can avoid many client demands.
Figure out how much time they are paying for, and stick to that. Often clients will try to get the most for their money, and while this is understandable, it is up to you to make sure your work is profitable. If you give a client too much extra time, you are making yourself unavailable for other paying clients, and that’s not fair to you.
Be firm and clear when you figure out how much time you will spend on a project, so the client knows exactly how much they can get from you. If they want more, they can pay for it later.
But build a little leeway into the plan. Most clients know they want when a project kicks off, but they won’t be able to anticipate how the project will evolve. It is up to you to give yourself some room to change course without your work becoming unprofitable. When working out project costs, charge a little bit more than you need to. It will allow you to give your clients some extra time without resenting them, and it will make your clients feel great that you are able to give them a little more time than they thought they would get.
If Things Get Tricky
Listen to your client. If your client wants something new out of the project, listen. If they have a problem with the way you are doing your work, listen. Let them say everything they need to say, and pay attention. After all, you can only find solutions that work for everyone if you know your client’s perspective. In fact, you may find that their ideas will make the project better.
Know the kind of client you’re dealing with. When you know what kind of client you’re negotiating with, you can know how to structure your answers to get the desired result. If you’re dealing with someone who likes dealing with facts and figures, appealing to his or her emotional side won’t work. Some people prefer being shown the big picture, and they won’t be convinced by loads of details.
With these tips, you should be able to avoid client demands that are too difficult, and you should be able to work the reasonable demands into the project plans.