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Written by Brad Egeland

GainingClientsFaster

 Courting the project client can be a painful experience. You can dance with them for months – even years – before they ever make a decision and it may still be a frustrating “no”. And knowing when to let them go and realize you will never monetize that effort you’ve put into them is a very hard call. What I’m presenting here are four tips I’ve gathered along the way, both as a project manager and as a consultant. These come from my efforts as a consultant, my efforts as a project manager “selling” more work or next work to current project clients, and things I’ve learned along the way from sales or account managers I’ve interacted with or observed. Let’s consider.

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ProactiveBe proactive in seeking out project clients who’s needs likely match with your area of expertise. You are going to want to continually expand your expertise. It’s called growth. But sticking close to that specific area of expertise makes your project services a closer match and, therefore, an easier sell. If you’ve never implemented a specific technology before, maybe taking on that type of project with a big, Fortune 500 type client would be a bad idea. If you’ve never implemented a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solution before, maybe implementing one for Disney would be a bad idea until you have some experience in that area. Taking that on for a smaller client first and getting a successful project outcome under your belt sounds like a good – and smart – first step. And an easier sell to the corporate client.

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Be flexible in what you offer. Make sure you don’t give fast “no’s”. The project manager who knows how to negotiate will get Flexiblemore clients faster. Project customers have custom needs and the likelihood that what they want or need will fit exactly with what you have always done is very slim. If you stand rigid in your offerings, your horizon’s and customer base will never expand – or expand very, very slowly – and you’ll never gain new experience to take to the next, bigger client. Likewise, be careful not take on technical implementations where you have no experience or in industries where success is not going to likely be a reality.

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ValueAddOffer value-added services. Meet the client’s requirements and needs, but go a step beyond the competition by including something extra. One organization I was consulting for guaranteed “no change orders” just to win a huge project. It was a crazy offer and I never would have recommended it, but I wasn’t consulted on that part of the deal and they did win the contract. Unfortunately, the project disappeared after the company fell apart halfway through the engagement, so I never got a chance to know for sure how it was going to turn out.

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packageDealOffer two needed pieces of work as a discounted package. Sometimes you have another option to offer that you know a project client is going to want, need or be interested in. You don’t want to give it away if it is labor intensive and valuable. However, you can certainly offer the two “projects” together as a discounted package. If one would go for $50,000 and the other for $80,000…get the customer interested in the need and offer both for $100,000. Make sure, of course, that you document the savings very thoroughly in the proposal so that they see the value. It has helped me many times in both winning new clients and also getting them signed up for two pieces of work instantly.

Summary / call for input

Bringing on a new project clients can be easy or hard and anywhere in between. The best possible scenario is when your area of expertise proceeds you and they come knocking on your door. That happened to me twice just today. But the more common scenario is organizations going out and shopping their expertise and services to win project clients and to do that they need to give and take, they need to be ready to negotiate and they need to be at least partially aware of what their competition is offering. Because if you can’t beat your competition in price, then you at least better be able to beat them in expertise or value-added services. All will interest the client, but there is no guarantee what will actually turn that client “no” into a “yes.”

What about our readers? What tips or strategies would you add to this list? Do you have any specific experiences to share and discuss?

about Brad Egeland

Brad Egeland

Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad’s site at http://www.bradegeland.com

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