You can have the best skillset, equipment, office, and approach to productivity in the world – but when it comes to selling your services as a freelancer, psychology is your most effective weapon. And, it’s one of the key ways for you to win new clients consistently.
Sure, you’ve got to have some skill to deliver what you say you’re going to deliver – but honestly, I think the skill part of the equation is a bit over-rated. Let me explain why.
If you’ve seen The Wolf of Wall Street, you’ll be familiar with Jordan Belfort’s classic “sell me this pen” routine – and the fact of the matter is this; the actual pen is inconsequential – the trick is all about creating the need for the pen in the customer’s brain.
Quite simply, you could offer the best product and service in your whole industry – at the cheapest possible price – and you wouldn’t make a dime if you didn’t connect with your customer in a way that makes your product attractive.
Tips for Getting More Clients
Photo by Josh Calabrese
Empathy is the mainstay of therapists, hostage negotiators, and marketers all around the world. Empathy is a skill – one that involves understanding the world from another person’s point of view. When you do, you build rapport; and stand a better chance of helping them, getting them to release a bank full of people – or selling them something (although very rarely all three at once).
As a freelancer, practicing empathy is so powerful because it’s usually completely unexpected. Clients will come to you with the same questions; “Have you got any samples?” “How much do you charge?” “What are your turnaround times?” And so forth. In reality though, they want to know more than this – but they often just don’t know what to ask.
Lucky for you, they don’t need to ask the questions for you to answer them.
Never avoid the question you’ve been asked – simply pad it out with some of your own info to improve your response.
“Hi Steve, what are your turnaround times?”
The answer would probably be “Around 2 weeks” – but you’ve got to ask yourself, what is this client really wanting to know? In truth, they may have been messed around by other freelancers who’ve over-promised and under-delivered, they may be used to working with in-house teams, or, they may have even let their own clients down because they’ve relied on flaky freelancers, so, you can give an ‘enhanced answer’ that tackles these issues:
“My turnaround time would usually be around 2 weeks – but I appreciate that a lot of people will say that and miss that target, leaving you without the content you need! Just to reassure you; I’ll commit to a specific time slot to do the work – and I’ll always aim to have it done well before 2 weeks; to give you a bit of breathing space.”
Now, someone else might have replied with a slightly more appealing “1 week” – but the chances are, you’re going to win more business by displaying a bit of empathy – because clients like to know you understand them and their specific needs.
There’s an old phrase in sales and marketing about how “People buy from people” – but that’s just half the story. People don’t just buy from anybody – people buy from people who they think understand their needs. Empathy is the perfect way of proving that you do exactly this – consider your customer’s circumstances, anticipate their concerns, and put yourself ahead of the game.
Narrow your options down
Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo
For a lot of people, choice is a headache. Do you buy the cheapest? The one with the best review? What about delivery time? Should you look somewhere else before committing? What if there’s a different product altogether?
I recently bought a pair of headphones and ran through all of these questions about five times before I committed. If I factored ‘time wasted on research’ into the equation, they probably cost me about $500.
This isn’t uncommon though. In fact, it’s often referred to as ‘analysis paralysis’ – this constant nagging feeling that we need to keep looking/configuring to make sure we get the best deal.
One of the best ways to overcome this phenomenon is to simplify your pricing and your service offering. Of course, what you’re selling has got to be at least somewhat competitive – but there’s a lot to be said for predictability and simplicity.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes again. Think about their level of understanding. As a writer, I could list about 20 different services I offer and give each of them its own price – but experience tells me this just confuses people. Keep it simple and you’ll stop people getting caught up in an over-analysis cycle that ends up with them continuing their search until they find the simplicity they’re craving (somewhere else).
An often overlooked key to winning new clients is offering exactly what a prospect needs. When you have someone ready to pay for your services, don’t confuse them with unnecessary information. Focus on providing exactly what they need from the start.
Testimonials and referrals
Photo by Judith Prins
As human-beings, we’re programmed to conform. For hundreds of thousands of years, conformity’s kept us part of the tribe – and that striving for conformity trickles into every part of our life.
Proof of this need for conformity is all around us – not least in the explosion of review sites and services over the last 10-20 years. Ebay was one of the first websites to encourage ‘feedback’ – now it’s a key feature for Amazon, Google – and even the services we use to stream TV and movies.
The thing is, we have a tendency to conform even when our rational brain tells us we should do otherwise. The psychologist Solomon Asch explored this phenomenon by creating experiments that saw a number of actors and a single real participant answer questions openly in front of one-another. The actors went first, all answering incorrectly – and, despite the correct answer to the question being obvious, the real participant generally followed their lead – bowing to the pressure of following the crowd.
As freelancers, we can use this conformity to our advantage – and it’s simply done.
Ask your current customers for reviews and referrals. Use their names and company details in your ‘clients’ list. Seek testimonials wherever you can. When your website, Facebook page, gig-site listing, or LinkedIn profile is overflowing with quotes and comments from people who’ve used your service and speak favorably about you, you’re massively upping your chances of new clients conforming – and following their lead. We hope these tips help you win new clients today. Leave a comment if you have more tips for growing your clients list.