Three Things I’ve learned about Client Management by doing “Sales” at FreshBooks
July 6, 2010
Hi! I’m Kasey, one of the (very) Small Business Consultants here at FreshBooks. Just over a year ago, I joined FreshBooks as one of the newest members of the “Sales” team and I’ve learned a lot about client management since then. Through a mix of asking good questions, getting to know our customers, and having fun, I’ve learned how to (almost) always satisfy my customers.
1. Asking why. Sometimes, what the client describes as the problem isn’t the real problem at all but just the symptoms. By always asking good questions – you can find out, and solve, the real problem – a win for both you and your client.
One particular example where this proved very helpful was one winter afternoon when I got a call from an upset client. He was frustrated, confused, and overall, having a pretty bad day. He was requesting his invoices formatted in a particular way, something that it didn’t look like we could do. So, I listened to him explain his case, and paused for a moment to figure out what (if anything!) we could do to solve his problem. I asked him why he needed his invoices like that – was there a particular reason that would help me understand his situation better? It was then that the real story came out – he had been dealing with a difficult client, and this was the third time he had sent them an invoice for the same work. He felt like the client was just stringing him along, trying to find ways not to pay him! He then asked if what they were now requesting was common, and I admitted I’d never heard a request like that before. In the end, he just needed someone to talk to about his situation, and give advice as to what constitutes a fair client request. Through asking why, I was able to better understand his situation, help him out, and give my client the confidence he needs to take hold of the situation.
2. Get to know people! Be curious about your customers’ business, their clients, their projects, and even how the work you’re doing for them might apply to other areas of their business or their daily lives. Getting to know your customers gives you important context that you can use to help you better explain what you do in a way that connects.
One of my favourite clients (not that I have favourites…) is a photographer, who travels the world taking amazing photos in all sorts of exotic locations. After we’d gone through the basics of FreshBooks, learning about the basics of how she works with her clients – I started asking more questions, really, just because I was interested in learning more about Thailand (I’ve always wanted to go there!). I then learned she had spent the last few months traveling across Asia, sending articles and photos back home as she goes. Although I didn’t intend for it to end that way, I mentioned the Expenses feature in FreshBooks, and how that might help her track her travel bills to determine the costs for each job (and, the profit!). It turned out to be a great fit for her business, and I was able to hear some great travel stories as well.
3. Have fun! Even though you’re running a business, you’re allowed to have fun with your customers. In fact – they’ll appreciate it! It makes for a much more enjoyable experience for them, and, better still, for you too.
Having fun is a tough thing to explain, but let me give you one of my favorite examples, from not too long ago.
I get to work with the awesome team at rtraction, a team of developers and strategists who work with their clients using FreshBooks. As we walked through how they’re using FreshBooks, not only was I able to develop a much deeper understanding of this customer, but I learned so much more about this type of customer. Our conversations felt like talking to an old friend – casual conversation with lots of laughs. Sometimes getting out of “business mode,” and just having fun with your customers is what it’s all about. Better still, I learned so much from them, and every time I talk to a team customer in the future, I have a better understanding of how they work inside their own company, as well as some best practices to pass on. Nothing is better than being able to pass on real advice from the field that you know works. And, to say thanks, I sent off a box of stylin’ FreshBooks shirts for their team. It was fun to work with them, and even more fun to make them so happy 🙂
Those are just some of the great experiences I’ve had so far at FreshBooks when working with clients. Make your clients love you by asking why, getting to know your clients and having fun. Do you have any amazing client stories and tips?