Selling your services as a freelancer is probably not the way you want to spend your time. But if you want to do good work you must be good at selling yourself too. It doesn’t have to be difficult, if you know what your customers want.
Solid examples of relevant experience
Portfolios are a good start, but you need to explain where your experience came from. In-depth case studies of past work are essential. They’re great for demonstrating what you do, how you do it, and if it works for your customers. You should also include testimonials and statistics where they’re relevant.
Clients reduce their risk by finding people with experience relevant to their needs. That includes offering the right services, but also extends to skills, technology used and industry worked in. The best way to close bigger deals is to win smaller, similar work, first. And then detail every result you achieved, and how you did it.
Understanding their business goals
Retaining customers as a freelancer will help you grow faster. Adding more value than you’re hired for is a great way to do that. I used to work with start-ups only, and I would (and still do) immerse myself in their industry, so that I knew what they knew. That meant we shared the same reference points when talking about particular strategies and goals.
Being genuinely interested in a clients business is the best way to convince them to hire you. And it’s also essential for enjoying the work you do. Long term, it helps you build a track record in a particular industry, which means you can start to offer more insight to your customers.
How much is it going to cost
Freelance services are often assumed to have predictable costs. Unfortunately there is no market price list. The answer is, it depends.
That doesn’t mean you can be vague and expect them to hire you anyway. If you’re asked “How much?”, you should do you best to find out as soon as possible. This means asking questions about their goals and working out the scope of the work involved. When I did this for my customers, I would break it down into the first thing I could do in less than 1 week, that gets them on the right path.
You should always ask for a budget, but if you don’t get an answer it’s ok to make an educated guess and plan the work accordingly.
Testimonials and references
Customers rarely ask for social proof, but they definitely want to see it if you’ve got it. Social proof is the reason why word of mouth is the best converting sales channel. When you’re sold by someone who isn’t being paid to do so, it reduces a lot of risk.
However, you shouldn’t wait for notes of praise to poor in. You need to go out and ask for honest reviews from your past clients and colleagues.
Hours of availability
There’s a lot of variability in how freelancers operate. Customers want to be sure you’re there for them, especially if you’re working remotely. Be clear about your availability, and provide details like timezone and out of hours etiquette.
It’s worth knowing what your customer thinks of freelancers. Make sure you alleviate any issues they’ve had in the past, or think they might have with you. 50% of my customers had bad freelancer experiences, but finding that out meant I could serve them better.
Sales has a bad rap, because we conjure up images of men in poorly tailored suits on garage forecourts that won’t leave you alone. The truth is, when you know what customers want, you barely have to sell to them directly. No-one cares about what you have to say anyway. They care about what you’ve done, who you’ve done it for and what you’re going to do for them. Sales gets easier when you learn how to show customers what they want, and get out of the way.
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