When we consider getting new clients, we often think about only the first part of the relationship: pitching the client and getting on a call.
Well, not exactly. The next step is a call with your potential client, which is critical to “closing” a client.
On some calls, you may close some projects right on the call if the client is super excited to get started and you get to an agreement on the scope of work and price.
But for the majority of your initial calls to nail a new client, you’ll likely take lots of notes and promise to send over that scope of work and pricing. (Pro tip: This is a good process to follow as you can have time to step away, review your notes, and develop pricing that fits the project. It’s never a good idea to get so excited during an initial call that you jump on decisions that you may regret later.)
The key to landing clients for freelance work starts with this initial call. To ensure your success, here are eight basics to keep in mind to increase your chances of landing freelance work.
You already researched the business of your potential client before you reached out to them. But before you get on the call, spend at least a half an hour familiarizing yourself again with their business: what they offer/sell, what they’re currently running for marketing programs, what opportunities you identified, what challenges you identified, and more.
Your prospective client should understand that you know their business as well as you can as a newcomer to it.
Also, if you have specific project ideas, come prepared with a breakdown of them along with pricing. Things may change as you gather more information on the call but it’s always wise to get a starting point.
(To read more about pitching clients, see our post, “3 Types of Freelance Clients and How To Pitch Them.”)
2. Set an Agenda
You and your prospective client have limited time, so start out the call by giving them the time frame for the call as well as what you’ll cover.
You could simply say, “Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. Let’s spend 15 minutes discussing some of your challenges and goals, some opportunities I see in your business, and whether or not I’m the right person for you to solve those problems and make the most of those opportunities. Then, we can talk about how to move forward. Does that sound good to you?”
This gives them an idea of what to expect and puts you in charge of the conversation—which is what you want. You want to position yourself as the professional expert offering them solutions and being respectful of their time.
3. Ask Questions
During your client call, you’re not trying to convince someone you’re the right person for the job. You want them to come to that conclusion on their own.
Start the conversation asking them questions like:
- What are your biggest goals for your business?
- What are your biggest frustrations in your business?
- Have you ever worked with someone for [insert your area of expertise] help in the past?
- What was that experience like?
- What do you struggle with the most?
- Have you tried to solve that problem and, if so, what happened?
4. Give Solutions
Now that you have a good idea of what they’re struggling with most, you can help them understand how you can offer solutions to those problems.
Here’s where you start to position yourself as the expert to help them solve the most challenging issues they are facing.
5. Position Yourself as the Expert
Your prospective client needs to understand why you are the best person to help them. Say things like, “Here’s how I’ve helped other clients in similar scenarios…”
Or offer free small pieces of advice that pinpoint their current strategies and a few ideas of how you could improve them. This helps them understand your expertise.
6. Outline the Next Steps
Don’t ask your prospective client what they want to do. Offer your recommendations.
Say something like, “Based on our conversation here and based on your goals, I’d recommend starting with [insert project] because [insert end result]. Does that sound good?”
If they agree, you can do one of the following:
- If it’s a project you came into the call knowing you’d talk about: quote the cost of the project and when you can turn it around for them.
- If it’s a project you discussed on the call or you have a lot of notes you want to review: let them know you’ll review your notes, put together a scope of work and price, and provide an estimated timeline based on a tentative kickoff date. Let them know when to expect your quote. Aim to send it within one business day.
If they don’t agree, find out what they think they should start with first.
7. Take Price Off the Table
If your prospective client doesn’t move forward, it’s likely about price. But that shouldn’t dissuade you. It just means that you haven’t clearly convey the value of what you can bring to their business.
They’re thinking just in terms of the money they have to spend, not what it will earn them. Tell them you completely understand their concerns and explain to them that all your projects are designed to help them improve their business and increase their revenue. It’s not a “cost” of a project; it’s an “investment” in their business.
8. Don’t Close the Door
Even if you end the call without a “yes,” leave the door open. Ask if you can check in with them in a few months to see how their business is going and if you can help in any way. A “no” now doesn’t mean a “no” forever.
Read more about how to land freelance clients here.
Have you had a great conversation with a prospective client lately? What happened? Let us know in the comments below!