A Solopreneur consultant’s first project specs meeting with a client or prospect is the time to start building the foundation for a successful working relationship. A major element of a positive and productive relationship is your understanding of the client’s priorities, which will allow you to assess what will be required to meet or exceed expectations. Before you can continue your pursuit of the assignment, vital information is needed and the right questions will bring it to the table.
Are you capable of doing the job alone, or must you sub-contract some portion to one or more Solopreneur colleagues? Can you successfully complete the project within the client’s preferred time frame? What will be your project fee or hourly rate?
Asking the right questions will deliver answers that convey the information you’ll need. As the meeting proceeds, ask the questions presented below. Both you and the client will be happy that you did.
1. What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 90 days?
Solopreneur consultants must promote themselves to prospective clients as experts who know how to deliver results, on time and within budget. That means when the contract is signed, you hit the ground running and commence the project work. Unlike salaried employees, for you there is no training or orientation period.
In some instances, there will be certain elements of the project that organization leaders deem more critical than other elements. These areas could be the most time-sensitive, or may simply represent the most urgent problems. If there are any front-burner issues, the smart Solopreneur wants to be prepared to take them on straight away.
2. What do you see as driving results for this project?
Getting your arms around these matters can make your project work easier and ensure that you achieve all milestones within the preferred time frame.
3. How does this project fit into the organization’s highest priorities?
Seeing the big picture is always helpful. How important is your project to the company’s long-term strategy and mission-critical goals? Your pricing will also be impacted by this information. If the project is pivotal, the smart Solopreneur will charge a premium and the client will be happy to pay when it becomes apparent that a trusted professional is on the job.
Within 24 hours after the meeting, send an email to confirm all major issues and agreements requested by the client and yourself — the scope of duties, project milestones, urgent deadlines and your payment schedule. Confirm or suggest the date that you will start the project work. Your email can constitute the project contract. The document has legal standing and will green-light you to start work if the client agrees with your summary, with amendments if necessary.
If your client would like you to perform additional tasks along the way, be certain to confirm the specs for that additional work, including the completion timetable, in writing and specify the additional fee and the payment due date.
Transparency is the foundation of conditions that encourage positive and productive working relationships to flourish. An exchange of information is key and the process begins with asking the right questions.
Thanks for reading,
Kim L. Clark is an external strategy and marketing consultant who brings an agile skill-set to the organization leaders with whom she works. Please visit http://polishedprofessionalsboston.com to learn how your organization can achieve mission-critical goals when you work with Kim.
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