Clients love me – why won’t they work with me?

Have you ever had the feeling that potential clients love you and your portfolio – but when it comes to money, they suddenly disappear, never to be heard from ever again? They clearly need your skills and knowledge (often you are the perfect fit for the job!) but when you send them a quotation for the project they get vague and never respond? And that’s even after you agonise for days over the quotation, trying not to overprice!

Frustrating isn’t it. I’ve been there myself many times. And then, probably around 7 or 8 years ago, I went on a sales training course and I learnt a really simple move that changed everything forever. I still remember the exact moment when it happened because it completely changed my approach towards new clients. And I attribute much if not all my freelance success over the years to this one little thing.

This is starting to sound like the worst kind of internet marketing. I’m now going to sell you my 3-week video course. Just kidding. Here is the juicy detail. Read it carefully and try it at your next meeting. Let me know how it goes!

Here is the surefire sales move that converts potential customers into paying clients:

Sell something small first!

That’s basically it. Sounds simple, right? Here’s how to put it into action:

  1. Think back over the last 3 meetings you’ve had. It doesn’t matter whether they were successful or not.
  2. Come up with a small part of the overall project that you could have sold as your ‘small thing’. Something that delivers results for them quickly and easily. A stepping stone that delivers value to them and gets you paid.

    Your ‘small thing’ should be part of the actual project. Try to break off the first few tasks that you would have done anyway. Don’t try to sell them something they haven’t requested or haven’t expressed any interest in.

  3. Do a pretend pitch with a colleague or in front of a mirror, ideally out loud, as if you were back in those last 3 meetings.
  4. You’re ready for the real world! Try it out at your next meeting. Repeat and tweak, practice makes perfect.

Some Examples (and why it works)

These people don’t know you. They really like your work, they are interested in you (otherwise you wouldn’t be talking) but the trust isn’t there at this stage. That will take time and successful projects to accomplish. Your job right now, as a freelancer, is to make it EASY for your clients to start working with you. And the best way to do that is to step away from the large project and sell something small first.

Example 1: Website designer pitching for a business website

I would love to redesign your website. These things can take weeks to complete. I’d like to do something that will increase sales for your business much more quickly. You mentioned that you were wondering about your newsletter signups – why don’t we redesign just the homepage first and collect some statistics. We can then use that information to inform the rest of the design and you can start growing your business before the rest of the work goes through.

I would estimate 2 days, it would cost around £500.

Example 2: Photographer pitching for a wedding gig

I would love to photograph at your wedding and feel like we have a great connection already. It’s going to be the best day of your lives and photographic style is such a personal choice. I wouldn’t want you to be disappointed on the day….To make sure that I can really do you proud I’d like to offer you a massive discount on our normal home photography session. You get to keep the photos in any case and if you love my work we can start planning the wedding.

Example 3: Flower arranger pitching for a hotel

I’m already full of ideas for the rooms and your new restaurant. I realise that we haven’t worked together before and there is a lot of trust required in a contract like this. Why don’t we start by replacing the flowers in your lobby every week while we get to know each other and work out the other details. We’ve got some lovely roses coming in on Monday – would that work for you?

What small things could you offer your clients? Best of luck and let me know how it goes or if you have any questions!