The secret of many long running freelancing agencies is that they have optimized their process, from end to start, using templates (email, invoice, reminders etc) and checklists (client information, project information, etc) at each stage of interaction with a probable/existing client, thus saving time, enforcing best practices and getting more time to focus on seeking and providing more value to the clients.
This is how the biggest of the freelancers outfits such as Mckinsey or Accenture make their big consulting fees. Yes, one knows these are consulting companies but they are actually doing freelance work all the time - making clients, working on their projects, keeping the clients, etc.
Note: The big companies call this the 'sales funnel'. But 'Client Flow' sound much better.
The Five Steps In Converting A Potential Client Into a Paying Client
1. Client contact: Make your contact details easy to access - Get client's contact details and any initial information (name, phone, email, company name, web URL, budget, important information if any)
2. Your follow up: Your first pitch about why you can be valuable to the client (with examples), how you are different from competition (benefits in bullet points, mention discounts, if any), what makes you unique (awards, testimonials, special process, etc) - Provide samples of your work - and ending with a clear CTA (Call To Action) - e.g. 'For a free 30-min consultation, call...'
3. 30 minute consultation (client's problem/s in detail, your ideas about solutions, etc.), where the big idea is for the client to like you: Listen a lot.
- The client's pain point/s
- State of client's competition and industry
- How you can help solve
- In the end, get all relevant information for your proposal: pain point, timeline, budget, measure of results, contact information, any specific point of contact, etc
- Get an idea of the client's budget for the job tactfully.
4. You send the proposal: Your analysis of the client's situation - solutions - timelines - schedule of fees etc): All in plain English
Seven things to include in your proposal:
- Situational analysis
- objectives of the client
- how results will be measured (e.g. % increase in profits)
- Service breakdown (things you will do)
- Fees (and schedule of fees, and other details)
- Terms & conditions (payment terms, cancellation fees, approval conditions etc.
Talk to a lawyer if you must.
5. Client's acceptance of proposal, fees finalized, first deposit made (usually 50% or 33%) - Work starts.
And, the sixth step: The money step
Setting up systems for invoicing, reminders for payments due, tax deductibles and so on - Search Google for templates for polite payment reminders, service invoices, etc.
Pro tip: You can find and modify all the templates using Google Docs and Sheets.
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