Acquiring new business and customers is a challenge for all engaged in businesses, including individual freelancers working as solopreneurs. If you work as a freelancer or manage your own online business, finding new clients is most likely to be your responsibility (unless you have a sales team).
Sales tactics and negotiations are very difficult to master, and great customers are not an easy catch. However, with the right strategy, you can avoid wasting time and secure clients who will continue providing your new business for years. You really can’t expect more than having a bevy of loyal, repeat clients who stay with you.
Here are some of the best ways to find and retain new clients for your business.
Focus on Your Service Quality
Do you have something unique to offer as a freelance professional that no other person can offer? Quite likely that you are offering same work with similar skills and proficiency. You don’t do your job any better than your best competitors. In fact, there will be a lot of people who can do what you do, sometimes even better than you.
That’s why service experience and client satisfaction has to be a huge priority. With smart communication, you can make your client feel like a king and win his/her trust.
Service quality is the main differentiator between service providers who basically do the same work without much difference on the quality aspect. Any good home contractor is going to be like all other good ones, except that some might be good at handling customer queries and grievances.
If you are working for remote clients, this might entail responding to emails at night. Taking calls from your clients worried about any issue at dead of night using any of the voice messengers such as Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.
Stay available for your client at all times, more so when you are offering services that are critical to the business of your client. For instance, a website outage can happen anytime and as a web developer, you have to be prepared to handle such emergencies. If you respond quickly, the client will take note of the advantage of staying with you. Always be available even when traveling or on vacation, unless you have a back-up team to handle emergencies. Respond within minutes and you will find more new assignments given to you.
Most individuals/businesses who outsource tasks struggle to find the right service providers. So, most of them keep trying different service providers and freelancers in their quest for the right freelancer who meets their expectations. Finding a reliable freelancer with the right skill sets to deliver the best results with quick response time is like a jackpot for customers. If you deliver more than what is expected of you and are always available to sort out any issue that come up, you have already taken a huge lead over your sloppy competitors.
Don’t forget to communicate in a manner that instills trust and confidence in you. Being polite and courteous towards your clients might seem like a no-brainer, but you will be surprised to know that many freelancers often shoot mails and messages that harm their image, gradually, if not immediately.
Deliver Before the Deadline
Apart from being good at communication skills, it’s important that your clients and customers find you as a dependable service provider who they can count on when they really need something done. Being quick to respond is not enough; you also need to deliver on time. If you promise a client that the project will be done by a particular date, turn it in before the promised deadline.
Put yourself in the boots of your clients. What would be their reaction if they find out that the work is not being completed on time? Quite possibly, they are going to blame the freelancer for a sloppy work and lack of professionalism. Always be careful when you promise a turn-around time. Keep room for unexpected delays or obstacles. It is better to accept a turn-around time of 15 days and deliver on the 14th day, rather than accepting a deadline of 7 days and delivering on the 10th day.
Your customers are counting on you for the task to be done. They might have planned other things based on your promised turn-around time. Some of your clients might have agreed to a deadline for their customers based on your delivery deadline. The world of your clients depends on you. When you miss your deadlines, the result is a chaos for your customer.
Don’t make your clients frustrated with missed deadlines. No excuse can fix the damage to your image and adversely affect your reliability. Manage your time and make sure that you finish the assigned work well within the stipulated time. Always keeping your deadlines and delivering on time will help you stand out from the crowd of freelancers.
Keep Improving Your Freelancing Skills
Freelancing is difficult if you don’t have the best skill set. With constant developments in all fields, you need to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest so that you can offer your clients the best services. Keep learning about the latest developments and acquire new skills / techniques to retain the edge.
All sectors and industries are constantly evolving. If you don’t keep up with the rapid strides of development by constantly acquiring the latest knowledge and techniques in your area of work, you will lose value as a service provider. Your existing clients will eventually learn that you no longer retain the edge and you will be replaced by someone more relvant.
Scout for Better Freelancing Opportunities
As a freelancer, you might not always find the right clients who are good paymasters and value your service highly. Whether or not you are stuck with bad clients, always be active in the market so that good clients can find you more easily.
How to find new and better clients? It can be a difficult task, but you can improve your chances at landing new clients by showcasing your skills on different platforms and forums. I personally don’t like freelancing websites for various reasons. Use social media to help others discover your past work. You previous work is the biggest tool that you have for landing new customers.
For instance, a web developer can easily help potential clients find her through simple footer credits (such as developed by Smart Freelancer), showcase for latest web design and social media references to your real-world work samples. A potential client might explore other websites (including competitor websites) to find references of good web developers.
Once you find a new client, always ask for a higher payment than what’s offered by your best pay-master. If the new client agrees, put her on top of your priority list. Now, it’s time for reaching out to clients who don’t pay as much and ask for a raise. If you can afford to do so, get rid of stingy clients who are unwilling to pay you the right price.