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How to Win Returning Business as a Fractional Professional

Building Trust and Loyalty: A Strategic Flexers Guide

Fractional Professional

How to Win Returning Business as a Fractional Professional

Mike Bank is an early-stage startup founder, former investment banker, and a visiting lecturer and career coach at some of Europe’s leading business schools.

At Citigroup, he was one of the bank’s youngest team staffers, assisted with graduate and MBA assessment centres in the London office, and ran numerous lateral hire processes.

Over the past ten years, he has built and led teams at his own ventures as well as consulting with VC-backed startups on talent acquisition.

Winning Returning Business is Critical

In a marketplace filled with ever-changing dynamics, the pursuit of new clients can be a relentless, time-consuming endeavour. For the flex/fractional professional, where attention is divided across various clients and projects, the significance of winning returning business can’t be overstated. Returning business is not just a by-product of good work but a cornerstone of stability, and growth within a portfolio career.

Here are the numerous benefits, some more obvious than others:

  • Steady Income Stream: Focus on quality work for returning clients you trust, stabilizing your income and future planning.

  • Cost-Effective Growth: Save on marketing and advertising costs by leveraging established rapport, translating to higher profitability.

  • Swift Engagement: Familiarity with returning clients enables quicker engagement, letting you concentrate on productive work.

  • Relationship Building: Cultivate trust through long-term partnerships, creating a path to referrals and industry connections.

  • Explore Upselling Opportunities: Encourage returning clients to explore additional services, boosting revenue.

  • Gain Insightful Feedback: Utilize returning client insights to refine your services and adapt to changing needs.

  • Negotiate Better Rates: Leverage proven value to negotiate higher rates with clients already familiar with your work.

  • Enjoy a Predictable Workflow: Manage your workload for a healthy work-life balance and avoid burnout.

  • Deepen Professional Expertise: Continuously engage with returning clients to enhance your industry understanding.

  • Thrive Amid Competition: Build resilience in competitive niches with a loyal client base, even during fluctuating periods.

How to Set Yourself Up to Win Returning Business

Winning returning business is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It's a nuanced blend of understanding, quality, flexibility, transparency, and continuous engagement.
By cultivating these aspects, you become more than a freelancer; you become a trusted partner, perfectly positioned to enjoy a constant stream of returning business.

Here's how you can set yourself up to be the go-to professional for your clients:

  • Communication & Understanding: One of the keystones of any successful relationship is open communication. This means not only responding promptly but also maintaining clarity about project progress, potential delays, and any adjustments to the scope. This constant engagement shows your genuine interest in understanding the client's business, industry, and specific needs. Taking the time to truly comprehend these elements will help you tailor your services to their unique requirements.

  • Quality, Flexibility & Added Value: Building a strong reputation is about delivering high-quality work that aligns with agreed-upon specifications. In addition, embracing your role as a flexer means being willing to adapt to changing client needs. Whether it's adjusting your work hours, taking on new tasks, or shifting priorities, flexibility enhances your value. Offer value-added services such as industry insights, improvement suggestions, or guidance on related matters. These extra touches can make you indispensable.

  • Transparency & Trust: From the onset, setting realistic expectations and having clear contracts ensure that both parties are aligned in terms of timelines, potential challenges, and outcomes. This transparency builds trust and paves the way for long-term relationships. Consistently meeting deadlines is another building block in this trust; it reflects your commitment and reliability.

  • Feedback & Engagement: Engaging clients in feedback not only improves your work but also reinforces that you value client opinions. This collaboration should go beyond the project's end. Regular check-ins, even when you're not actively working, maintain the relationship's momentum and keep you on their radar for future needs.

  • Professional Development & Surprises: Stay ahead by continuously improving your skills and aligning with industry trends. Being knowledgeable and up-to-date positions you as an expert. Occasionally, go beyond the expected by delivering early or offering small bonus tasks. These unexpected delights can cement your reputation as an extraordinary professional.

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