According to Sean Low, founder of The Business of Being Creative, the secret to client management is being in control from the very beginning. He uses the analogy of a Sherpa, or guide, saying that designers are the leaders of this journey, not the clients. If that seems revolutionary, keep reading. Here, Low outlines the four essential transitions to client management success:
1. Potential to Actual Client
Show clients who you are, and exceed their preconceived ideas. Make the conversation about them, not just about the project. The end goal is a signed contract.
2. Idea to Completed Design
Once the client is on board, he or she must commit to your ideas. If you don’t make this transition, you remain the client’s collaborator instead of a designer. Decisions are made, which results in getting paid for your work.
3. Design to Production
Once a design is solidified, do not turn back. The client must know that changing the course of the journey will result in more expenses.
4. Production to Execution
You need your time to install the design without the client interfering. Don’t feel guilty asking your client to—kindly!—step back for this phase.