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Key Moments in Client Relationships

Published 5/6/2016

In today's episode we discuss how to recognize 4 key moments that can make or break your relationship with a client.

Today's episode is sponsored by Linode! Head over to Linode.com/developertea or use the code DeveloperTea20 at checkout for a $20 credit towards your cloud hosting account! Thanks again to Linode for your support of Developer Tea.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and in today's episode I'm going to be talking to you about key moments in client relationships. In today's episode I want to talk to you about managing client relationships. This is another installment in the series of episodes where I talk about client relationships. I do want every once in a while. I'm incredibly excited to dive into this one because it's such a key element of relationship management. It's the key moments for your client. Today's sponsor is Linode. If you are looking for a cloud hosting provider, you can instantly deploy and manage an SSD server in the Linode cloud in just a few seconds with your choice of Linux distribution resources and the location of the node. We will talk more about what Linode has to offer to developer T-listeners later on in today's episode. But before we do that, I want to go ahead and talk about client relationships and specifically the key moments of client relationships. Each of us has a certain amount of energy per day and successful developers are exceptionally talented at energy management. This isn't just developers. This is anybody who does good things with their time that requires energy management. Media ochre developers apply energy without discipline. You don't want to be mediocre, otherwise you wouldn't be listening to this episode. Here's the key. No matter how much energy you decide to pour into something, if you are pouring that energy in at the wrong times or in the wrong ways, you will not see growth. I want to stay here for a second. If you are pouring energy in at the wrong times or in the wrong ways, even if you're pouring it into the right idea or the right client, if you're doing it at the wrong time or in the wrong way, you're not going to see growth. I want to talk to you about putting your energy into your client relationships today and when you can win big with your clients, simply by controlling when and how you spend your energy with your clients. You may see where this is going. The key moments are where you want to spend your energy. All relationships have key moments. Those moments sometimes are hard to determine. Sometimes they are marked by the beginning of something new, such as the start of the relationship or when the two parties in the relationship decide to take a big leap together. Sometimes those big moments are marked by important conversations. Sometimes they are marked by tragedy. Sometimes they are marked by the closing of one chapter and the opening of another. By no means is this list comprehensive, the key moments in relationships may be seemingly insignificant and unexpected as well or they could be highly anticipated. In today's episode, I'm going to give you some key insights into capitalizing on those moments in your relationships with your clients and managing your energy by conserving for those key moments. But first, let's talk about today's sponsor, Linode. Linode is built on native SSD storage on a 40 gigabit network on top of Intel E5 processors. Super fast SSD servers. Now, you might think that this is difficult to get access to, but there's eight data centers and their plan start at $10 a month. So it's incredibly accessible no matter where you are. You can get a server running in under a minute with Linode and they have hourly billing with a monthly cap on all plans and add on services. The services include things like backups, node balancers and long view. You can even have a virtual machine. You could have a private get server. You can run a Docker container, create an encrypted disk. All of this for only $10 a month and they have eight data centers. It's a seven day money back guarantee, by the way. So if you try it out and you don't like it in seven days, then you can get your money back. One thing that I want to mention here, when Linode has been a sponsor of the show for a while, this is the really cool thing about Linode. Let's say, for example, that you have a five hour event and you need to ramp up your servers for that five hours. Okay. You can do that for that hourly rate. Hourly billing means that you can ramp up for five hours and have a super computer of a server for that five hours and then ramp right back down. So basically, you have the power to scale for special events or if you're launching something new, you can scale for one day and just pay you for that one day. So this is an incredibly cool feature of Linode. Go and check it out linode.com slash Developer Tea and here's the other thing. Linode is offering Developer Tealisteners $20 for free, just totally for free, $20 for free by simply using the code Developer Tea 20 at checkout. That $20 is a $20 credit to your Linode account. So they aren't going to send you a $20 bill, but you're going to spend that $20 bill anyway on a Linode server if you like their service. If you don't like their service, there's a seven day money pack guarantee. So go and check it out linode.com slash Developer Teause the code Developer Tea 20 at checkout. Of course, all of that information will be found in the show notes at spec.fm. Thanks again to Linode for sponsoring Developer Tea. So I want to share with you a few insights into how to capitalize on these key moments in your client relationships. And let me return back to the to the discussion about energy management for a second. So the reason why this is so important is because if you only have so much energy, if you only have so much energy and we all do, we only have 24 hours in a day and hopefully you're sleeping about eight of those hours. So that cuts us down to about 16 hours, right? If we only have 16 hours in a day and hopefully you're resting for somewhere around eight hours of that day, at least doing something that you like, maybe a hobby, maybe you're creating a podcast like I am, if you're resting for that eight hours, well, now you have eight hours left, right? Eight hours to do something productive. And of course, everybody does this differently. Sometimes people borrow from their from their resting time for a period of time to invest a little bit more in their work. But the long term idea is to get to the place where you have sustainable energy output. Okay. So once you level off, once you have a specific amount of output every day, then knowing where to put that output is the only way to grow. So let's think about that again for a second. If you only have a certain amount of output per day and that's your sustainable amount of output, then the only way to grow your business or to grow as a developer is to know where to put that energy so that it works for you better, so that it's a better investment, right? You need to be thinking about your time like an investment, not like something that you spend just kind of aimlessly, right? Going back to my quote from earlier, successful developers are exceptionally talented at energy management, but mediocre developers apply energy without discipline. Sometimes mediocre developers apply 12 or 16 hours of energy, but they do it without discipline. They're not doing it in the right places. So I want to share with you ways that you can spend that energy in those key moments. Now, how can you recognize a key moment? That's what I want to share with you today. I want to give you a few characteristics that you can look for and some advice for when you realize that you're in a key moment with your client. So the first characteristic is any time there is a transition or some kind of major change for your client. Once again, anytime there is a transition or some kind of major change for your client, think back to your childhood for a second. If you ever had to move away from the place that you were living to a new place, that was an incredibly important time to you most likely. That's not something that you're likely to forget. You probably remember some of the things that you packed last and you probably remember saying goodbye to your friends at that point in your life. Those kinds of major changes, whether it's an organizational or a personnel shift, a direction shift for the company, maybe an external factor that has changed, maybe an earnings report has come in for that company. These can be a significant event for the person you are working with and it can be a source for a key moment. The best way to capitalize on these situations is to be especially present and helpful in that transition period without overstepping your boundaries. And what that looks like is letting the person know that you are available to them, being responsive to them more than you normally would be, responding a little bit quicker, letting them know that you're there to support them through the transition. This pays you back in major ways. First of all, because they see you as someone who is their advocate. If you're helping them through a transition, that is a key moment that they are going to look back to in the future and remember how much help you provided to them or how present and mindful you were of their situation. So anytime there is a transition or some kind of major change, that is the first characteristic you want to look for. Number two, whenever there is a special date or event, now this may seem a little bit trite, but think about it for a second. Humans celebrate dates. We celebrate them all together across the world like on international holidays. We also celebrate them as countries for national holidays. We celebrate them regionally and we celebrate them within certain interest groups. We celebrate them with our families and in one-on-one relationships. We have anniversaries and we have friendship anniversaries. Those kinds of things. Dates are important to humans. If your client mentions a date to you, especially if there is a special event on that date, it is a good idea to make that date important to you too. That date is a key moment for your client. Just like you might hurt a friendship, if you forget a birthday, you might hurt a client relationship if you ignore a key business date or if you even act ambivalent towards that key business date. If your client cares about a particular date, then you need to understand that that is a priority to your client. Just like anything else that they come to you with as a priority, you need to treat that date like a priority to your business with them. Especially on the date that it occurs. Maybe there is a conference or something that your client is going to be a part of. It is not a bad idea to be at the conference with them if you have the means to do so. By simply being present at something like that, you are showing your appreciation and that you are prioritizing what that client cares about. This is a key moment. Contrast that to a non-key moment. If you just arbitrarily picked out a date to put a bunch of energy into the client, they aren't going to connect a lot of meaning to that. They aren't going to look back at that as a key moment for them and they may forget all of that energy that you put in. If you put a bunch of energy into something that they have explicitly told you that they care about, that's energy much better spent. If you have eight hours in a day, then that eight hours is much better spent if your client knows and cares that you are spending it. Whenever there is a special date or event that is an opportunity to identify a key moment with your client. Number three and four are related to each other and that's because we are talking about the beginning of a project and the end of a project. This is probably the most universal rule for client relationships in terms of key moments. These two moments are key in every single relationship, the beginning of the project and the end of a project. That's because each of these has a major impact on the future after that particular moment. Let me explain what I'm talking about. The beginning of a project sets a tone for the rest of the project. The beginning of a project sets a tone for how your client views you throughout that project. It may even set the tone for how that client views you in perpetuity during the project and after the project. If you get the beginning of the project right, if you focus on it and spend energy in the beginning, listening to your client and making sure that you have all your ducks in a row and we have a lot of other things to go over to explain what it means to have all of your ducks in a row. If you put your energy and your time and your effort in at the beginning on the front of that relationship, that's going to pay you back throughout the project. Focus on the beginning of the project and the other side of this, the end of a project. The reason why that's important is because the end of the project has a major effect on how your client remembers the whole project, how your client views the process, how it went. There's some research on this subject that people are likely to have an opinion that reflects mostly their experience towards the end rather than the average of their experience overall or the experience they had in the beginning. So it's important in the beginning to set up the experience so that the entire project has an overall good structure and that you're able to work well with that client, that you have open communication, but the end of a project is a key moment simply because that is what is going to stick with that client. So how can you knock the end of a project out of the park? Well, I have a simple recommendation and that is to keep 10% of the budget in reserve. Okay, keep 10% of the budget in reserve for the last 2% of the project. Okay, think about that for a second. Give yourself the margin, the space, the time to spend extra energy at the end of a project. This is the simple concept of over delivering, but planning to over deliver, planning ahead of time that you're going to spend extra energy on the last 2% of that project. What this does is twofold. One, it prepares you for avoiding and resisting the feelings of burnout on a project. And this can happen very easily. The end of the project often gets underserved because you start feeling burn-outs the developer. You start getting tired of the project and starts becoming a little bit laborious to respond to all of the continued requests. And your client is going to feel like they're bothering you if you are not ready for all of that extra work that needs to occur at the end of a project to truly knock it out of the park. And the second effect that this is going to have when you keep some time in reserve and you give yourself margin at the end of the project, your client is going to feel so much better about that final delivery because your energy was dedicated to that last bit of the project. And this is going to have a lasting effect on your client. It absolutely will change the way your client views retroactively what has happened on that project. And here's the more important part, how they think about you going forward. This is how you gain positive relationships with people. How you gain a network relationships with people. When somebody comes up to them and asks them, you know, the kind of experience they had working with their developer, if you did a great job at the end of the project, they are more than likely to sing your praises rather than complain. And that's exactly why this is a key moment in their relationship. So a quick recap on those four characteristics. Number one, anytime there's a transition or some kind of major change, that could be a signal for a key moment in your relationship with your client. Number two, whenever there's a special date or event. Number three, the beginning of a project. And number four, the end of a project. Thank you so much for listening to Developer Tea. And thank you, of course, to our wonderful sponsor, Linode. If you are looking for a cloud hosting solution and you use Linux and you are okay with having a super fast server on SSD, that is easy to spin up and has hourly billing. Go and check out lino.com slash Developer Tea. Use the code Developer Tea 20 and you get $20 free dollars worth of credit on Linode. Thank you so much to Linode and thank you for listening to Developer Tea. If you have not yet subscribed, go ahead and take two minutes. It's very easy. Pull up whatever podcasting app you're using. You can subscribe on your computer, but you're probably all listening on your phones. Go ahead and pull it up and click subscribe. That way you don't miss out on future episodes of Developer Tea. If you're enjoying Developer Tea, make sure you leave a review in iTunes. This is the best way to help other developers find the show. But of course, it also helps Developer Tearise in the rankings on iTunes and that means more people will see it. That's how it helps other developers find the show. Thank you all for leaving those reviews. I read every single one of them and I appreciate all of you who have said such kind things about Developer Tea. I will be sharing some of these reviews in the future. Notes from today's episode and every other episode of Developer Teacan be found at spec.fm. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.