There are 2 main reasons I write so much about sales for freelancers. 1) Selling is depressing work for people who make things — because it’s full of rejection. And 2) Freelancers are particularly bad at it. Even successful freelancers are constantly finding new customers, rather than leveraging their existing client base.
If you want to grow your freelance business, you should aim to stop outbound selling as soon as possible. The best way to do this is to keep the customers you’ve already sold to. Either by selling more, longer term services. Or by using their networks to earn more customers through them. This is why going beyond normal customer service is key to taming that magical sales channel successful freelancers go on about all the time: word of mouth.
It’s cheaper, easier and faster
You’ve probably heard it already, that keeping an existing customer is cheaper than finding a new one. But it isn’t just a cliche. For any business it’s just good economics.
There’s no question that it’s easier to receive an inbound lead for a new project than go looking for it yourself. But it’s also easier to deal with someone you already know, and faster to get legals and project planning in place before starting.
I won’t spend too much energy explaining why inbound sales is better than outbound, it seems pretty obvious. So how do we start generating inbound lead? It’s actually really easy, just not very common.
For good customer service to translate to more work, it takes an extra level of thoughtfulness not found in most freelancers. It starts with the way you see the relationship. Are you there to do a bunch of jobs your client has asked for? Or are you there to solve the problem your client has, that prompted them to come up with their own solutions?
If you’re designing a logo for a new store, did you think about how important this is going to be for their advertising? Once work is complete, did you go out of your way to explain how important a style guide would be, or maybe mock-up an example banner for their opening? Most business owners find it hard to juggle every responsibility they have. Helping them avoid their blind spots not only adds more value to their business, it turns you from a freelancer into a trusted partner. Instead of starting their search for a banner designer, you’ve already got it covered.
Part of good customer service isn’t just solving problems in real time, it’s identifying problems before they appear. This is the kind of customer service that turns into a real partnership between you and your client.