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Client Relationships: Meeting Preparation Tips

Published 2/19/2016

In today's episode, we're going to discuss a few tips for preparing for a client meeting.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jon, I think to Trellen. In today's episode, we're going to be talking about client relationships. We talked about client relationships in a previous episode and I told you that I would continue talking about how to cultivate better client relationships and how to grow them if I received some positive feedback and in fact I did. I received quite a few responses to that episode asking for more episodes about client relationships, about how to cultivate those relationships. And so here we are, we're going to do another episode today. Specifically, we're going to be talking about how to prepare for a client meeting today. Today's episode is sponsored by Dev Bootcamp. If you are thinking about becoming a software developer, if you want to learn how to build software, specifically if you want to learn how to be a full-stack developer, Dev Bootcamp may be a perfect option for you. We will talk more about Dev Bootcamp later on in today's episode. So today we're going to be talking about how to prepare for a client meeting. Specifically, I'm going to give you three tips to remember when preparing for your next client meeting. Now of course, this is not holistic just like every other episode of Developer Tea. These three tips are not the only advice that you need to take when preparing for a meeting, but these are three fundamental ideas that have helped me in the past when dealing with clients. We've already laid some groundwork for how you should treat your client in the previous episode. Of course, showing up on time, for example, and having a specific cutoff for your meetings, these are essential steps because they communicate that you care about your own time and you care about your client's time. You value them. We also discuss the importance of being present while you're in those meetings and proving that you are actually present by eliminating distractions, especially ones that are physically visible, like your cell phone or your laptop. Now in this episode, I'm going to give you three more tips for preparing for that major client meeting that are more about framing your own mindset for the meeting. The previous episode was more about listening, listening to your client and being able to be an active listener. This episode is more about how to think about your client when you're headed into a meeting. These are the kinds of tips that I like the most because they act as anchors for how to think. This is incredibly important and we'll return to it over and over again on this show. This is what makes our discussions here mostly timeless. These episodes of Developer Tea. You can listen to now or in three years from now or in five or 10 years from now and a lot of the principles that we talk about here are going to apply regardless of when you listen to the episode. That's because we're talking about how to think. We're talking about a psychologically how to approach a situation. When you have a good foundation of how to think, you can apply that to any programming language, any client and really any job that you could ever have. You don't really have to be a developer to get benefit from this discussion. We're going to talk about these three tips for when you are preparing for an interview right after a quick break to talk about today's sponsor, Dev Bootcamp. If you're thinking about becoming a software developer, you should check out Dev Bootcamp. Dev Bootcamp is a short term immersive software development program that transforms those who are new to coding into job ready full stack web developers. You learn front and back in web development, teamwork and leadership skills in a rigorous and inclusive environment. Dev Bootcamp has several locations around the country and they're accepting applications now. So visit devboocamp.com slash Developer Teato learn more. Thanks again to Dev Bootcamp for sponsoring today's episode. And of course that link can be found in the show notes at spec.fm. So we're talking about preparing for client meetings in today's episode. This is part of a series about client relationships and these meetings are kind of the key moments that you will have with your client, especially early on in the relationship. That is the most important time to focus on these particular aspects of your relationship with that client. And you have to remember that your client is always going to view you through the lens of these particular touch points, these meeting times that you have with them. They don't see you each and every day. They only know you as you present yourself to that client. And so leaving a good impression in those meetings is incredibly important. So let's jump straight into tip number one. Tip number one is remember that new clients are meeting with you because they want to succeed with you. Remember that new clients are meeting with you because they want to succeed with you. Their hope is to walk out of the meeting with you with more confidence in your ability than they had walking in. And this is an incredible opportunity for you because they already want to trust you. They want you to be exactly what they are looking for in a developer. This simple fact is perhaps the most underestimated factor of client relationships, especially in the beginning. It's so important because now your job isn't to prove that you're the best amongst multiple developers. It's instead to prove that they, the client, have made a great decision to work with you. There's a subtle distinction here. In the first scenario, you're pitting yourself against everyone else in the field. Every other developer or option the client could have chosen from instead of you. With the second perspective, though, you are aligning with the client's wishes. Their wishes are to walk in that door and for that meeting to go perfectly. The difference here is that instead of you trying to outperform everyone and spending a bunch of energy trying to prove that you're the best in the short period of a meeting, you are choosing to align with your client's desires, reassure them and lean into the confidence that the relationship is already trying to achieve. That client already wants to have confidence in you and it's your job to lean into that. You're going to be much more successful in these meetings if you don't focus on trying to put yourself above your competition. Instead, you treat your client like they are already your partner. You treat your client as if you have the same goals and dreams for their product as they have for it. Really, this is the best type of relationship. One, where you care about the thing that they care about and you reassure them that they are making the right decision by going with you. Tip number two, the best clients are going to appreciate generation of new ideas and possibilities. The best clients are going to appreciate your generation of new ideas and possibilities. As a developer, you have the opportunity to seek connections because you have these unique abilities, you see connections that others can't see. You have the unique knowledge and insight of what things can be integrated and what technologies and trends could be employed to unique and incredible ends. These thoughts and insights are often hugely valuable to clients, but unfortunately, they're also often kept quiet by the developer. So instead of staying quiet, especially in the early stages of client interaction and especially in brainstorming and planning meetings, don't be afraid to offer creative suggestions of what their platform or their product could include what it could possibly do. The entrepreneurial mindset, especially in the early stages, will latch on to new opportunities very quickly. There are a few small caveats, nuances to this particular tip, the most important one being that this doesn't work with everyone and that it depends on the stage of the project that you're in. This isn't going to necessarily work well if you are meeting with somebody who isn't primarily responsible for new ideas or for decision making. If you're meeting with someone primarily responsible for logistics, especially when the project has already begun, then it's unlikely that they are wanting to hear creative ideas or new possibilities as these may actually cause more stress than inspiration. They actually may stress the person out that you are meeting with and they may lose confidence that you are focused on getting the job done. But be sure to recognize what kind of meeting this is, what kind of person you are meeting with and determine, is this person going to be inspired or stressed by me offering new and creative ideas? Tip 1 was remember that new clients are meeting with you because they want to succeed with you, they want to work with you and you should align with them rather than trying to compete with your competition in those meetings. Tip 2 is that the best clients are going to appreciate generation of new ideas and possibilities with the caveat that you only need to be presenting those in the right context to the right person. And tip 3 never assume a budget. Never assume a budget. I can't tell you how many times developers end up either accidentally ruining a client relationship or themselves not getting bigger projects simply because the specific perspective was off going into the client meeting. Even if the client tells you a budget at a time, don't walk into a meeting assuming that that budget is a hard and fast rule. Now why shouldn't you assume a budget? You're probably asking this seems like a crazy idea to ignore the client budget. When we as developers assess a project, we are given the task of determining what is possible with the given resources. Developers are all too familiar with the client whose ideas are bigger than their budget and we have a tendency to shut these ideas down earlier than we should. We tell the client that the thing that they want is not possible and quite often this can be emotionally deflating and usually it's not even true. It's probably possible but not within the particular constraints that we have gone in assuming. Any successful developer will tell you that almost everything given enough time and resources is possible. It's technically possible. And this is the key. If you can once again find a way to align with your client like we talked about in the first tip. If you can learn to align yourself with your client and be an advocate for them and believe in their idea first and then determine the implications that idea has on the budget, you will be much more successful both relationally with your client and you'll likely see more regular increases in budget than you did previously simply because you are enabling the ideas. You're enabling them by telling them that they are possible but there is some kind of restriction on the budget. When a client mentions a budget use this as a guideline for approximation but never use it as a guideline for determining whether or not a feature request is possible. Instead always start from the perspective that you want to empower your client's idea. Start with the perspective that your client's idea is likely possible and communicate with your client to determine the cost. Instead of shutting down the client and telling the client know because you assume that their budget is inflexible, tell them what is possible and what it will take. And here's a quick bonus tip for you. You are much more likely to succeed with your clients if you don't give them only one option but you give them multiple options with a scaled budget in mind. In other words, provide a feature set that meets their minimum budget, provide a feature set that meets their maximum budget and perhaps you provide a feature set that goes well beyond their maximum budget. That's kind of like an ideal world scenario. This not only allows the client to choose what they prefer amongst those tiers but if they choose a lower tier they know the cost if they decide to ask for more features they know how it scales if you provide that scale early rather than later. So let's quickly review those last three tips. Tip number one was remember that new clients are meaning with you because they want to succeed with you. They aren't meaning with you because they want to see you fail and you should align yourself with that client. Align with them and reassure them that they're making a great decision to work with you. Tip number two, the best clients are going to appreciate the generation of new ideas and possibilities. They're going to appreciate you coming to the table with new ideas and not just being a machine that builds whatever idea they feed you but also a collaborator, a creative collaborator with them. And tip number three, you should never assume a budget. Having a budget can often lead you to say things are impossible that are actually possible but simply cost a little bit more. I hope you've enjoyed today's episode of Developer Tea. A Developer T's episode today was sponsored by Dev Bootcamp. Dev Bootcamp is an immersive coding program that transforms beginners into full stack web developers head over to devbookamp.com slash Developer Teato learn more. If you're enjoying Developer Tea, make sure you subscribe in whatever podcasting app you use. This is the best way to make sure you don't miss out on future episodes of Developer Tea. Also, if you're enjoying the show, let others know by going on to iTunes and leaving a review. This is actually the best way to help other developers find Developer Tea and also the best way to tell them that it's worthwhile to listen to. Other developers definitely read these reviews before they spend their time downloading and listening to Developer Tea. So every single review counts and I read every single one of these. Thank you if you've already left a review and if you haven't, I sincerely appreciate each and every one of these. Thank you so much for listening to Developer Tea and until next time, enjoy your tea.