Keeping up your pipeline and prospecting for new clients can be one of the hardest parts of sustaining a business. It doesn’t get any easier when building a freelance business, as it often come down to generate and close leads yourself.
Many of us wouldn’t consider ourselves a “natural” salesperson (not even mentioning having received any relevant training), so closing and generating leads is something a lot of people have to work on!
You know that the product or service you have to offer is great, you have the correct experience and know-how in relation to your work, but how do you communicate all that to prospective clients?
I hope you can take away some useful tips from this article, on how to increase your conversion rates and decrease the time you spend marketing yourself.
You know your business and potential client base better than anyone. Everyone identifies leads in different ways. If it is cruising job boards, cold calling/emailing websites or contacts or asking for referrals from your existing clients, or doing all three.
The important thing is to figure out the method that works best for you and add some low hanging fruits. Focus on who your potential clients are (and who you want as your client). Find out where they spend their time, on- and offline, and try to connect.
This way you can ensure that your portfolio features customers who are targeted to your vision, and that your roster of previous clients is going to attract customers who value your work.
I recommend creating a professional profile on platforms which are second home to your target customers. When working within the energy sector for example, create a profile on https://portal.e-nable.eu/. With more than 8.000 active users (as of 2017) who are all energy professionals, it is the perfect stage for freelancers of the energy industry.
Once you have acquired your list of leads, it’s time to start pitching. Again, this can look different for everyone, but most freelancers do a lot of their business over email.
When you’re emailing a new lead, make sure to be specific. If you’re responding to a tender or ad, follow directions exactly. It’s okay to have a sample pitch that you use it over and over, but tweak it a little based on the job that you’re applying for. After all, it’s great to add a little personality to stand out from the competition.
Make Time for Marketing Yourself
If you don’t have enough business right now, look at your calendar and find out how much time you are spending on generating new leads.
If you do not have time blocked away from your busy schedule to focus on marketing yourself, it’s time to pencil in a time to start!
A popular rule of thumb is called the “ten before 10”. And it is simple enough: pledge to contact ten clients before 10am. Every. Single. Day. At. The. Office.
Of course, you can choose your own number and time, but the takeaway is that you need to be consistent. Start with a number and a time convenient to you, then do it every day until it becomes a habit.
Following up is one of the most crucial parts of working the lead pipeline you created through your hard work mentioned above. You’re not done after writing a pitch email. And following up with prospect a second time will not look like harassment or stalking. The simple truth is, we’re all busy. Things fall by the wayside or through the cracks, so don’t be afraid to send a friendly reminder.
After all, the worst thing that can happen is that they ignore you or tell you “No.”
In short, if you stop taking action after generating a lead, you fail, and if you don’t put enough work in generating leads, you’ll fail before you even tried. Meeting a prospect is just the first step. You then need to try to get an opportunity to pitch them (no matter if in person, over the phone or via email).
Pitching them isn’t the last step either. Be the proactive one and follow up if you haven’t heard anything for a while. Make it easy for them to tell you yes or no, so you know if to invest further energy and time or come back to them at another time. Either way, you have an answer and can move on to the next lead.
Thomas Helige, 25. January 2018, 12:57