As a freelancer, you’re responsible not only for the work you produce but also finding, securing and pleasing your clients. Perhaps you’re doing everything by the book and following all of the advice you’ve read on marketing your personal brand but, for some reason, you’re unable to effectively convert your leads into clients. There are many places you may be tripping up in the client acquisition process.
Here are some simple considerations which may help you secure more contracts and get even more business:
Brand awareness and reputation
Let’s start simple. Ask yourself honestly, are you doing everything you can to get your name out there? Your name and reputation are powerful tools. Word of mouth, even in today’s digital world, is a powerful tool in helping you obtain clients. A good reputation could be the difference between someone liking your work and someone liking your work and opting to hire you.
A good website is crucial for any freelancer. You need to be able to clearly demonstrate what you do and why you’re the best person for to do it. Building an effective website takes time and a lot of consideration, not to mention the time required for upkeep and refreshing content. That being said, it’s not something most freelancers can bypass.
The second weapon you need in your arsenal is a strong social media profile. Think of your social output like the hosepipe between a stream of water and a tap- it’s controlling the flow of information about your services and helping you direct it to the right places. Not only is it important for sharing your work and building up a positive reputation, it also gives you the opportunity to present yourself as a thought leader in your field.
Through sharing industry insights and commenting on things happening in your niche, you’re presenting yourself as an expert. Thought leadership is an overarching strategy and helps position you above your competitors. In essence, it helps people see that you know what you’re talking about. It’s a huge aid in nurturing conversions for that very reason.
How you obtain enquiries in the first place is also important. One of the most common ways to encourage enquiries is through your website. Some people choose to display their email, be that on a contact page or peppered across the site, whilst some choose to build a contact form.
You must ensure a visitor can very easily find a way of contacting you. This can be done through including ‘call to action’ language and prompts across your site, linking through to the contact medium, whichever that may be. These can be buttons displaying ‘get in touch today’ or can be more subtle and embedded within a body of text. This really does depend on what type of content is on your website and what will fit best.
It’s also important to think about what information you need from potential clients to be best prepared to answer their enquiry. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, would it be enough to create a form on your site which collects just personal contact details and the enquiry itself, or is it beneficial for you to ask for a link to a company website and perhaps a few key aspects of the business’ core strategy? This key information could help you respond to that first enquiry with something more thought out. You could even begin to form the first stage of a pitch. If you’re able to think about the client’s needs from the initial point of contact, this puts you ahead of others that may have been tendered.
This same principle applies to any form of enquiry collection you use as a freelancer. The form through which you collect leads is less important than what you can do with them. If you’re finding yourself unable to convert, perhaps you’re not demonstrating how effective you can be in providing them with your service.
Thinking like a salesperson can be tricky for some people, particularly those with creative backgrounds.
Firstly, consider seeking advice. Networking with your peers can be an effective way to learn real, applicable techniques. Use social media or find groups in your area through networks such as meetup.com.
There are also experts online who are more than happy to impart their knowledge to you. Andy Mason, Director of recruiter Mason Frank , stated: “Being able to sell your services can be difficult, but essential in the process to securing a successful outcome. However, one of the most important considerations when finalising a contract is to keep your customer’s needs at the forefront of your mind. Think about them in the initial stages and outline your demands, such as pay and terms, once you have them on side. Are you showing them how you’ll meet their original requirements instead of going off on a tangent about your ideas? Are you demonstrating how you are the best option for their return on investment?”
“It’s useful to think about the solutions you’d be offering to a potential client and angle your sales technique around that. ‘I’m the best person for this job because this is how I would solve this problem for you’”.
Listening is, in fact, one of the most powerful sales tools you can have. Keith Rosen even says ‘selling is the most advanced form of communication’. Always take on feedback, positive or negative, in a constructive way and never argue, especially in the early procurement stages. Make your opinion heard respectfully; however, don’t make your client feel unheard.
Really, it all boils down to communication
Receiving enquires is the biggest battle in the war of working for yourself. Securing confirmed contracts is all about communicating your ability to meet demands. Remember, by the point you’re making contact with potential clients, you can be confident that your work is strong.
Sell yourself as the solution to the problem while communicating honestly and you’re sure to see more clients walking away happy.
How do you turn your enquiries into clients? Let us know in the comments below!