So, the story goes something like this:
As a freelancer, our first hurdle is getting inquiries. This hurdle alone deters so many designers from making the leap to freelancing. It seems daunting, unapproachable, and a complete mystery. BUT, the good news is that once you get over that fear, you’ll land inquiries in your inbox in no time! You’ve just got to do the work, and consistently show up. It can really be that simple.
Cue the music and your best Beyonce dance moves — you’ve landed several inquiries in your inbox! You’ve done the hard work, and it’s finally paying off.
But then that awkward moment hits. You’ve got the inquiries, but not the clients.
I’ve been there, and it’s a common struggle in the freelance design world. I know for a fact you’re not alone, I got several responses last week talking about this exact dilemma. So much so, I thought I should address it!
While there is no blueprint or formula to follow, I’ve discovered a few tricks to convert potential customers into excited clients.
Below I’ll share 8 techniques to help sell your services to clients, and convert window shoppers into buyers. Some of these strategies I’ve implemented in my own business. Others I’ve spotted from other businesses, and think they translate well to our nook of the internet.
Your homework: Take one of these strategies and integrate it into your own process this week.
One simple technique that compels your site visitors to take the next step and reach out to you, is through simply posting your prices.
Why it works
Simply put, if a price isn’t posted, we immediately think it is out of our budget. This is the same reason I struggle ordering from a restaurant menu without prices… it must be too fancy for me! Once our clients see the investment, they feel less intimidated to reach out for your services. Another benefit is that the inquiries you receive will be more aligned with your offerings, and not clients who don’t have the budget.
This one can get controversial, I know it! Read more about why I opt for transparent pricing.
Calendly or Acuity Scheduling are great tools for your potential clients to book calls. They make it easy, convert to your client’s timezone, and best of all the reduce the back and forth emails trying to schedule a time.
Why it works
It makes it easy for a potential client to take action. Sometimes contact forms and emails create roadblocks for our clients. The embedded calendar compels users to take that next step with ease. I know this as a client myself — the last 3 services I booked (copywriting, trademarking, and a business coach) all hooked me from this calendar strategy. It works.
Make it clear
Having one main action point in your response to a client inquiry makes it clear to your potential client what the next step is.
Why it works
Have you noticed email conversations can be lengthy? Sometimes it can be overwhelming to hit reply and answer several questions. Rather than asking your potential client several questions, or having them fill out a questionnaire, why not make it really clear what the next step is? For me, that first step is to book a consultation call so we can make sure we’re the right fit, and get to know each other. Through having one clear action, your potential client will feel eased in taking action on that next step.
Get them talkin’
Schedule a call to get to know your potential client before booking.
Why it works
It’s proven that sales increase when talking to a human, especially with higher investments. We crave delightful human interaction these days! I see you over there rolling your eyes, and I feel ya! Talking on the phone to a complete stranger can be intimidating. But trust me, once you put this system into practice you’ll see the impact. People love to talk about themselves, especially their exciting ideas for their business! Don’t underestimate this. Embrace it. Book a call to talk about your client’s brand, build that personal relationship, and THEN walk through logistics.
However, if you get a panic attack just thinking of setting up a phone call with a potential client, then don’t do it! We want you to be confident over the phone, and if that’s not your strong point, that’s okay.
After a potential client goes silent, schedule a time to follow-up with them to check in.
Why it works
A simple follow-up gently reminds your potential client about your offerings. They reached out initially because they were interested, but something deterred them from following through. It could have been a busy time, it completely slipped their mind to respond, or it got lost in their inbox. Either way, you won’t know until you follow up! Send a friendly nudge to hop on the phone, or check in.
No Media Kit
Say what?! I might get some backlash from this one. It’s common for designers to send a media kit PDF of pricing, portfolio work and process to potential clients after an inquiry.
Why it might not work
I’ll admit, I used to send a media kit to potential clients. It was beautifully designed, ran through each component of the process, and included pricing. What I recognized later is that this multi-page PDF probably felt like homework to the recipient. Who has the time to read through it, and then follow up with scheduling a call? It prevented some from taking that next step.
Make it easy for your client to press “purchase” and book your services. Use a program like 17Hats to streamline the process of quote approval, contract signature and invoice payment.
Why it works
Any time you can make it really easy for your potential client, you’re that much closer to booking. If you have a PDF proposal, a contract and an invoice from three different systems, it slows down the process of booking services. The less steps your client takes, the closer they’ll be to booking.
*If you’d like 10% off 17Hats, you can use this magic link ;).
Showcase your work
Send a follow-up email to potential clients with incentive to book your services. Mention your current availability, and even slide in a few recent design projects.
Why it works
It gets your studio in front of your potential client one more time. You could follow-up a week, or a month, after an initial inquiry to check in. Through sending availability, your potential client gets excited about starting the project soon (urgency never hurts!). This could also be a great way to showcase recent client work, so they can visually see a successful client project.
I snagged this idea from Hello Fresh — a meal delivery service. They sent me an email titled “Preview your meals next week” to re-subscribe to their service. They show a preview of the recipes, which is enticing! They also include an element of urgency (like showing your limited availability), further compelling customers to subscribe.
*Note: Treat each inquiry delicately, and avoid bombarding potential clients with several follow-up emails! No one likes to feel like they are in an automated sequence.
And there ya have it — 8 techniques to bridge the gap from inquiry to booked client.
Once you’ve used these strategies, you’re probably asking “How can I make sure my new client is happy, and has a smooth process?” I hear ya!
Want the answer to this question? Hang tight, next week I’m answering this common question about how to create a streamlined process, what tools you should be using in your business, and how to actually get zero revisions from your clients.