Don’t forget to ask, “What’s next?”

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See if this scenario sounds familiar to you…

You’ve completed an important project with a new client. He’s clearly happy with your work. You’re pretty sure he’s going to use your services again. In fact, you’re confident this happy camper is going to give you lots of repeat business for years to come.

Life is good!

Then a few months goes by. You don’t hear from him. You finally send an email to “check in” but don’t get a reply. Now you’re worried.

What the heck happened?

Well, there is a slight chance the client wasn’t as satisfied with your services as you thought he was. But, more likely, the reason the client didn’t call you again is because you gave him the silent treatment.

You finished the project. Then neglected to stay in touch.

Not a good thing.

A few years ago, for example, I hired a virtual assistant to edit an audio program I created. He did a great job. But once he sent me his invoice, I never heard from him again.

It’s not that I didn’t feel appreciated. But because he didn’t stay in touch, he eventually slipped off my radar screen. When I needed some more audio work done a few months later, his name just didn’t come to mind. I went with someone else.

So how do you prevent this scenario from happening to you?

It’s fairly easy. When you’re finished a project or program with a new client, simply ask, “What’s next?”, or some variation of that question.

Say, for example, you’re a copywriter and just finished writing some web copy for a new client. She’s delighted with the work. That’s the ideal moment to say something like, “What else do you have coming up over the next few months that I may be able to help you with?”

When you ask that, the client is likely to start thinking about other ways to use your services and expertise. Why wouldn’t they? They like your work.

During periods between projects, you can also:

  • Check in regularly with clients to ask “How’s business?”
  • Alert clients to any new services you offer.
  • Invite clients to sign up to your e-newsletter or blog alerts.
  • Share helpful articles related to your client’s business or career.
  • Do something special for clients once in a while. (I often send clients a Starbucks gift card with a note that reads, “Thanks for your business. Today’s coffee break is on me.”)

Staying in touch with clients not only keeps you on their radar screens, it also demonstrates that you’re interested in them and their businesses.

So the next time you finish a project or program with a client, don’t let yourself slip into the complacency of waiting for them to call you. Keep building that relationship. Stay in touch. Ask “What’s next?”

Satisfying clients will certainly get you more repeat business. But satisfying clients, and staying in touch with them, will get you a lot more.

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