As a freelancer, you’re the owner of your business and responsible for selling your services. That’s the only way you’ll grow your freelance business. Sure, your work speaks for itself to a certain point. But it’s on you to get your work in front of clients and to sell its value for their business. Your clients want to know what it’s like working with you as an individual. You’re selling an entire package with your brand.
If you’re new to freelancing, navigating the sales process can seem like entering the great deep ocean. Worry not; it’s not as hard as it sounds. To begin, we put together this introduction to sales and closing clients as a freelancer. This guide focuses on what to do after you’ve already identified a sales lead.
Sending a proposal or quote
Once you’ve found a client lead you know you’re a great fit for, it’s time to send the perfect proposal. First, do your research. Make sure you know everything there is to know about the clients business. Read through the job brief and identify their pain points. Then, as you look through their website, social channels and press coverage, start identifying areas of improvement and opportunity. When drafting your proposal, focus on how your skills and services will solve their problems.
To begin, ask them some questions about their goals before moving forward with your proposal. Your proposal should show that you care about their business success. If you can explain to them that one strategy will be better than another, you’ll likely hook them before even having to meet. It’s even better if you can tell them how they’ll save money with your service.
Keep your pitch short, clear and to the point. Outline what you can offer, the impact it will have, and the timeframe in which you can complete the task. Focus on how you can solve their problem and why you’re the best to do so. Include portfolio results you’ve achieved in the past for similar clients from same industry.
Let’s Talk Budget
Now you’ve sent your perfect proposal and the client wants to know more about your quotation. It’s time to negotiate. Sometimes this will be a quicker process than others. If the client shares a budget in their brief and that budget works for you, there’s not much to be discussed. But, if they don’t, it’s usually up to you to set a best rate to discuss.
To set your rate for an individual project, you have to first understand what the market rate is. Check to see what other freelancers are charging for similar projects. Then, factor in the quality level and demand for your work. Reflect on what you’ve charged in the past. If you felt like you delivered more value for what you received, increase your rates a little bit.
Always be open to negotiations. If your client can’t afford the rate you quoted, scale back on the offerings a little bit to meet them. Communicate the value you’re providing again. Break down what you’re offering and roughly what goes into the work. Don’t go into detail about every task. Simply explain why the pricing are what they are. They just want to understand what they’re paying for in order to justify the expense.
So you’ve quoted your client and discussed your pricing. They seem excited, but then things are not moving and you have no idea if they’re going to hire you. It’s your turn to follow up!
In all likelihood, they just got busy and put hiring on the backburner. Or, they’re considering other freelancers for the job. Either way, don’t feel like you’re bugging them by following up.
If you haven’t heard back in 3-5 days, send a short follow-up email. Below is the sample email follow-up.
“Hi [Name] – I haven’t heard back from you. Are you still interested in working on this? It might be helpful to jump on a 15-minute call to answer any questions about my proposal. Are you available any of these three times next week…”
If they don’t respond to your first follow-up email, send another one a week later. Keep it casual and short but show your enthusiasm for the project. Consider sending something along the lines of:
“Hi [Name] – I know you’re very busy. I just wanted to check in to see if you’re still looking for a freelancer. I’m really excited about working on this project because of XXX. I’d love to help you achieve XXXX. Are you still interested in working together or have you moved forward with another option? Thank you for your time!”
Responding to a “no”
No matter the format, a no doesn’t mean your prospect is never willing to work with you. That said, don’t be pushy. Graciously accept their no and thank them for their time and consideration. But keep the lines of communication open!
If you have a good relationship with your prospect, ask them for feedback on your proposal. Explain that you know they’re busy but if they have a few moments to share why they didn’t move forward with you, it’d be incredibly helpful for future work.
Check in with your prospects who say no a couple of months later to see how the project is going. Keep up with their company news to congratulate them on any milestones, etc. Depending on their response, you can ask how you can help. By staying in touch, they won’t forget your interest in their success and will be more likely to think of you for future projects.
A healthy client relationship is all about identifying how you can have a mutually beneficial experience. During the sales and closing process, you’ll learn how the client communicates and works. If you’re looking for new project to work with, check out the available projects on the Freelancing.my platform and make sure your profile is up-to-date!