It took me many years to learn the lesson that when it comes to freelancing, there are two types of clients only, the right clients and the wrong clients. When you have the right clients the world seems wonderful, work seems exciting, and you don’t dread checking your emails and messages. But, if you have the wrong clients, you suddenly start checking the “Want Ads” for jobs and dread those emails coming in. Since no one wants to work with such stress and especially if you work for yourself, the answer is to only work with the right clients. But, how can you be sure that you’re attracting the right clients?
Write down what your ideal client looks like. What motives them? What keeps them up at night? Are they results-focused on money-focused? All of these questions can help you determine the type of client you want to attract. As a freelancer you should focus on clients who have a specific need, who care more about results than price, and who are willing to hand over the work to you and focus only on deliverables – i.e. no micromanagers.
Instead of trying to compete on price, compete on value. Price your value instead of trying to match your competition or freelancers who want to compete on price. Remember that your prices set an expectation in the minds of your audience. The higher the price, the more perceived value they have for your services. If your prices are currently low, raise them right now. Don’t be scared; you’ll attract clients who are successful instead of struggling, which will give you a much better type of client.
When you get to the negotiation phase, never lower your prices. You can add more value into your work for the price, but don’t lower it. You’re not selling a commodity; you’re selling a specialized skill that took you a lot of time, money and training to be able to offer it professionally. Do not under value yourself. No matter what your competitors charge, you should stick to the value you set at the beginning. Lowering your prices only sets you up for failure and resentment. Let your clients know that you never cut prices or corners.
Your potential clients need to go through a process that qualifies them before you ever speak to them on a call. Set up a client questionnaire that will not only help determine what type of client they are, but also help them clarify what it is they want from you. Clients who know what they want are a lot easier to work with than clients who have no idea what they want. Plus, if they are willing to go through the questionnaire, that is a good sign they’re going to be willing to use your processes and your systems.
Most business owners literally guess about their clients’ motivation, and due to this are often wrong. When you can figure out what truly motivates your clients, you’ll be able to improve on your client screening process exponentially. The truth is, the only real way to qualify a client is to know what gets their engine burning. Put these into your client screening process and you’ll start figuring it out.
In the form you create to screen potential clients, simply ask what motivates them. Give them the choices of: Speed, Value, Price, Results. You can have them choose one or rank them in terms of importance. This does a few things. If they fill out the form, you know they’re serious; if they answer price and speed as most important, you can toss them out as potential clients, or you can move them to a new list that educates them on value and results over price.
The more value you can provide, the better. What your clients really want is results. If you can prove the results, your clients will be clamoring for more at any price. Determine a way to prove the results of your work, and then submit that information to your clients on a periodic basis with notes on what more can be done (at a price) to improve these outcomes even more.
You’ve likely heard the phrase, “under promise and over deliver”. It’s excellent advice and something you should focus on doing. The more you can do that, the more your clients will perceive your work as top-notch and excellent – no matter the price. Each month that you work with your client, always figure out a way to do a little something extra that you didn’t list in your duties just to give them that wow factor.
One of the biggest keys to keeping your business afloat and working with the right clients is the follow-up. When you’ve received objections from clients that you know would be a good fit, you want to address them immediately. For example, if a potential client went through your entire process but still is on the fence due to the cost, you’ll need to step it up. Give them more testimonials, references, and examples of the results of your work.
All of this may seem like a lot of work, but if you don’t put potential clients through a screening process before you get to the first phone call, you will more often than not waste your time. It can be scary to stick to your price point, but it’s imperative if you want to be happy doing this work and working with these clients. Oh and if you make a mistake and accept a client that you later find out isn’t right for you, then never be afraid to sack the client, working with the right clients ensures you do your best work after all.