Getting clients is the lynchpin of building a successful freelance business. Here at the Freelance Success blog I’ll spend a lot of time talking about marketing strategies that help you get clients, so let’s kick things off with this inaugural post which focuses on an important fundamental that too many freelancers miss. It’s the understanding that getting clients is impacted by two key factors, the first of which is timing.
When do clients hire a freelancer?
When do clients hire freelancers? When they’re ready. A client is ready when some event takes place which gives birth to a project, for which the client may require the services of a solo professional such as a consultant or freelancer.
Perhaps a new IT initiative gets the green light, or a set of financial procedures must be redesigned, or the decision is made to expand into a new market. When events like these occur inside a company, suddenly there’s an immediate need for help from outside resources. In other works, suddenly, the timing is right to pitch your services.
How can you possibly know in advance when these types of events will occur in a given company? You can’t, which is why it’s foolish to hope you might connect with a “cold” prospect for the very first time and score business from him or her at the exact moment that they’re looking to work with someone like you.
Sure it happens from time to time, but when it does, it’s usually by fluke. Yet most solo professionals are banking on these flukes because they make phone calls, create web sites, and send sales letters and emails that basically say, “Call me if you’re looking for help with [whatever].”
So many of these marketing “efforts” go unanswered because most recipients are not looking for help with whatever – at least, not at the exact moment your sales letter or email arrives.
Why marketing efforts “don’t work”
This is the main reason why a freelancer may say, “Sales letters don’t work.” Whenever someone says this, I ask for more details and usually hear something like, “I sent 150 sales letters out last month and got no business! 150 letters!” But that’s like saying, “I asked 150 men to marry me last month and got no takers! 150 men!” Maybe it’s not the sales letter that’s the problem.
It’s easier to build a successful solo business when you drop the expectation that a sales letter or an email from you will convince the client that the time is right for them to hire you. You can’t influence the timing factor. But there’s another factor that you can influence – the trust factor.
Getting clients is all about timing and trust. A prospective client must trust you to a certain degree before they hire you for the first time. The more they trust you, of course, the better your chances of being hired. So since you can’t control the timing factor, focus instead on building trust.