As a freelancer, your surest way to long term success is repeat business. One analysis found that repeat customers account for 25 to 40 percent of the revenue of financially secure businesses. Earning new clients and keeping the ones you have comes down to one primary element: effective client communication.
Of course you've got to offer a high quality service to make it as a freelancer, but long term relationships (of any sort) are formed with communication. So in this post we are going to look at two of the client communication best practices that the pros rely on to build a profitable, sustainable base of repeat customers.
Effective client communication starts with asking the right questions. Sales is an art. And a big part of that art is knowing how to make your customers comfortable that they are in good hands.
Especially when you are dealing with a first-time client, you can turn a maybe into a yes just by asking the right questions.
Let's look at an example. Imagine a small business owner who is looking for someone to create a sales funnel for him. He knows that funnels can be effective, and that he needs a landing page and maybe a lead magnet. But really, he isn't 100% sure of everything that's involved.
Our business man, let's call him Joe, starts browsing around the internet marketing services on Legiit. Joe finds two freelancers who look like they might know how to help him, so he sends them each a message to get the conversation started:
“I'm looking for someone to build me a sales funnel to promote product XYZ. Can you help me with this?”
Freelancer #1 is eager for the sale. He approaches the opportunity with the mindset seal the deal first, work out the details later. He tells Joe…
“I'd love to help. I've built plenty of sales funnels before. My fee for this would be $500.”
Freelancer #2 wants to build trust. She realizes that Joe doesn't quite know what he is looking for, so she decides to help him figure it out. She starts theconversation by asking questions that add value for the client and demonstrate her experience and expertise…
“Thanks for reaching out, Joe. I've built a lot of sales funnels in the past, for my clients and my own business. I'd like to know a little bit about what your goals are so that I can find the best way to make this project a success for you.
(1) Where are you acquiring traffic from? I have experience writing Facebook ad copy, so if you are thinking of running social media ads, I can take that into account.
(2) What sort of email tool are you using? Some of them allow for pretty complex follow-up patterns, so we may be able to create a series of emails based on user actions to help ensure that the least amount of people fall out of your funnel.
(3) What web design platform are you using? I have experience with a lot of them (Thrive, Leadpages, ClickFunnels). If you don't have one yet I can help you make the right choice based on your budget and your needs.”
Freelancer #2 may have had to put a few extra minutes into her reply than the other guy, but which one do you think Joe is going to view as the knowledgeable professional that he can trust to build his funnel?
One of the differences between our two budding entrepreneurs in the example above is that the first guy treated Joe like a paycheck while Freelancer #2 treated him like a person.
Effective client communication is just like communicating with your significant other. You have to care about the person more than yourself. If your only focus is what you can get out of them, it will show, and clients will be turned away. Even if you make the sale, a personal connection is what separates a one night stand from a long term client-freelancer relationship.
How can you better treat your clients like people?
Obviously, you've got to change your internal dialog to be more customer-focused rather than revenue-focused. But there are also specific client communication strategies you can employ.
Wish Them Success. If you are selling services on a platform like Legiit, there's a good chance most of your clients are solopreneurs or small business owners. So after you deliver an order, take some time to wish them success in their business ventures. Something as simple as this goes a long way: “I hope the keyword research report helps with the launch of your new affiliate site. Wishing you good rankings!”
Get Excited About Your Work. Find a reason to get excited about each and every project you do: “I'm looking forward to writing this copy for you. My wife is a photographer too, so I know the struggle in finding new clients.” By showing clients that you love the work you do, they will feel much more comfortable sending new orders your way in the future.
Add a Personal Touch. Just because you are forming a professional relationship, doesn't mean you can't build a personal one too. What would an office job be like if no one ever gathered around the water cooler to chat about Game of Thrones or the tragic end of the Daredevil series? Ask your clients how their vacation went, congratulate them on the birth of their new daughter, and so on. Just remember that everyone has different levels of comfort when it comes to this sort of communication. So it's best to let the client take the lead.
If you are serious about growing your freelancing business, you have to secure repeat customers. They will form the base of your predictable income stream, giving you work even during the lulls in business.
But earning those customers and keeping them around can't come without effective client communication. Build trust by asking the right questions and build long term relationships by treating your clients like people, not paychecks.
And, of course, above all remember to keep it Legiit.