Pitching to prospects is stressful and time-consuming, but there is such a thrill when we meet the right person and get invited to discuss a project. With much anticipation, valuable time and energy are directed to preparing for the meeting and if we are asked to do so, preparing as well a proposal that details how we would achieve the client’s goals.
It is unspeakably frustrating when a proposal is rejected or worse, when we never hear from that prospect again. It is imperative that Freelancers practice appropriate risk management and take steps to improve our client acquisition rate and minimize negative outcomes.
Recommendations by satisfied customers are trust-building votes of confidence for you. A referral made by someone known and respected by the prospective client is the ideal endorsement. Word-of-mouth is always the best advertisement.
LinkedIn recommendations are lukewarm. Testimonials that appear on your website are more powerful, especially those given by a prestige client. Better still is to ask a client if s/he would be willing to speak with a prospect to give a reference for you and discuss the project you worked on.
Samples of your work
Create a portfolio of case studies or other samples of your work to provide some show and tell for prospective clients. They deserve the opportunity to view and evaluate your work, so that they can envision the match-up between the results they must achieve and the solutions that you would deliver. Curate your portfolio of work samples and case studies well, by choosing projects that demonstrate your expertise and value. A good portfolio will also help to justify your (premium) pricing structure.
It is the 21st century and prospects expect all professionals to have an online presence. Before deciding to contact a Freelancer or any other professional that one might hire, an online search is typically conducted. Prospects want to get a sense of who you are and confirm that you are legitimate.
Overwhelmingly, Freelance consultants have a website, but there are those rare individuals who have been able to build a successful client list without this marketing tool. Whether or not you have a website, further cultivate your online presence through social media or post press releases online to announce your speaking and teaching engagements, participation in charity events, or any awards you may have received. Writing a newsletter or blog, building a mailing list and sharing on social media platforms is also useful, as is guest blogging. Develop and maintain a positive online presence that is designed to win over prospects.
The ultimate reason that clients hire Freelance consultants is that they are convinced that these individuals will bring significant value to the project and will make the hiring manager look smart in front of his/her superiors and peers. Merely describing your products and services is no longer sufficient to get yourself hired in this hyper-competitive marketplace, where in most cases there are numerous highly qualified professionals who are available and hungry for billable hours.
Communicating your unique value is the only way to get hired and that must be demonstrated in numerous ways. Like a trial lawyer, layer on examples of the varied aspects of your value and let the preponderance of evidence in your favor pile up. In clear and concise terms, present the case of how you will make the client’s job easier, save the organization money, position the organization to make money, or ensure that the organization achieves important goals.
Once a prospect has expressed an interest to meet and discuss doing business, or to confirm whether or not you will be awarded a project after you have had a meeting, there are two possible actions:
1). Active pursuit, when you send one or more emails to either encourage setting up a meeting or to learn the outcome of a hiring decision.
2). Passively waiting for the prospect to contact you.
According to experts, neither approach is useful. I’ll bet your own lived experience speaks to that fact. Definitely, you don’t want to come across as pushy, since pressure tactics are a big turn off. Conversely, you cannot afford to allow assignments to fall through the cracks because you did not follow-up and help to shine a light on the pending project. You need a way to diplomatically keep your proposal on the front burner.
A useful tactic is to telephone or text the prospect three or four days after you’ve sent your proposal, to confirm that it has been received. You may also ask when s/he would like to begin the project work. Open the door a little wider and suggest that you would be happy to start work ASAP on some urgent action item, so that the deadline will be comfortably reached.
Freelance consultants have two jobs: finding projects and then completing those projects. Our ability to survive financially is directly tied to this process. As organizations continue to shrink full-time workforces, the number of Freelance consultants grows every day. In order to compete successfully, a Freelancer must always be positioned to regularly sign clients and generate adequate revenue.
Thanks for reading,