Like it or not, if you’re a freelancer, sales is a part of your job.
Selling freelance services, however, is a lot different than selling a product. For one thing, there’s only one you and there’s a practical limitation on how much work you can accomplish during any given time period.
But there’s more to it than that. As a freelance web designer, you deal with clients on a personal level. Often you work with your clients one-on-one. The process of selling web design services is a lot different than selling a software package where the consumer never contacts the software company.
Selling Freelance Services, Even if You’re Not Good at Sales
Because selling freelance web design services requires different strategies and skills than selling a product, I’ve devoted this post to sales tips for freelance web designers. I’ll also share a few contact relationship management (CRM) tools.
If you liked this post, you may also like 7 Tips for Closing the Sale.
Tip #1: Who You Are Matters
When a consumer buys a product (especially a product that doesn’t require support), they often don’t care what kind of person created that product. The grumpiest person in the world could have created the product, but as long as it works well the consumer doesn’t care.
If you don’t believe me, let me ask you this: have you spoken recently to someone on the assembly line that manufactured your automobile? I thought not…
When you’re selling website design services, however, who you are matters.
It matters a lot.
Your clients know they will be interacting with you, possibly often. They want to know whether you are easy or difficult to get along with.
This is where your online reputation plays a critical role in sales. If you have a good reputation–if you have good testimonials, you’re more likely to win the client over.
Tip #2: You Can’t Compete on Price Alone
In product sales, cutting prices can be a good strategy if you can generate enough revenue from an increased sales volume. Competing on price is a strategy designed for situations where high sales volumes are possible. In other words, using price as your primary selling point works best for products and not for services.
Still not convinced?
Let’s imagine you sell key chains. Yes, it costs money to make the key chains and yes, manufacturing does involve some labor. But overall, it’s quite possible to increase the number of key chains you make. If you purchase more supplies from your vendors, you can take advantage of bulk discounts. You may be able to upgrade your equipment so it produces key chains fast. (Your staff is probably paid by the hour, not by the key chain.)
As a web designer, however, there’s a limit to how many web designs you can create. Even if you spend every waking hour on web design (even if you love your work, you probably don’t want to do that), there’s a point when you just can’t work anymore. It’s not physically possible.
Too many freelancers are still trying to beat their competitor’s prices, but that’s a strategy you can’t win. You’re not a product.
So, what should you compete on if not price? The answer: Quality Service
Tip #3: Quality Counts … A Lot
If you can’t sell your web design services based on price, you’ll have to use something else to convince your prospects to do business with you. That something needs to be quality.
To make sure that your prospects understand that you do quality work, refer to the following list:
- Check all work carefully before submitting.
- Update your portfolio frequently. Remove any low quality samples from your portfolio.
- Keep your skills up to date.
- Suggest improvements to your clients where appropriate.
- Avoid clients who ask you to cut corners. (It could result in low quality and the client usually winds up dissatisfied anyway.)
Even providing high-quality service is not enough if you don’t close any sales.
Tip #4: Ask For the Sale
One reason many freelance web designers don’t have enough work is that they don’t ask for the sale. It sounds simple, but it’s the truth. Asking for the sale is one of the best freelance sales tips. When it comes to web design sales, and selling freelance services in general, you’ll close more deals if you ask for the business.
Since web designers aren’t usually trained salespeople, it’s common for them to backpedal when it comes to asking for the business. They’re afraid of being too pushy.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask for the sale. Your prospect knows you’re in business. They expect you to try and close the deal. And you don’t have to be pushy to ask for the sale.
Here’s a simple question that often works:
I’m excited about this project. When can we get started?
As you can see, it’s a perfectly natural way to close a conversation or email exchange. This is also a good way to weed out tire kickers when you’re selling web design.
Keep in mind, however, that sometimes a “no” sometimes really means “not now.” That’s why it’s important to stay in touch with your prospects.
Tip #5: You’ll Have to Network
It takes time to build a relationship that results in a sale. For many prospects, you have to build trust before you can close the deal. That’s why networking is so important.
There are basically two types of networking:
Face-to-face networking tends to be more effective since most people like to meet who they’ll be dealing with in person. However, face-to-face networking also takes more time since you usually need to travel to a location where your prospect is located. For that reason, I’ll provide some tips for both types of networking.
Here are some opportunities for face-to-face networking:
- Professional society meetings
- Meetings geared towards local businesses (Chamber of Commerce events)
- Meetups and other networking groups
- Tradeshows and conventions
- Classes you attend in person
Here are some opportunities for online networking:
- Social media contacts
- Building an email list
- Joining an online forum or discussion group
- Answering questions on Quora or LinkedIn
Of course, one of the challenges of networking is keeping up with your contacts. Most of us meet someone, have a conversation, and then never follow up.
If you want to have success selling freelance services, you need to connect with people and follow up.
Tip #6: Use a CRM Tool to Keep Up With Your Connections
One way to stay on top of your connections is by using a CRM tool. Freelancers often think their business is too small to use CRM software, but they couldn’t be more wrong. A good CRM package will let you organize your contacts, summarize previous interactions with them, and may even send you a reminder if you’ve ignored a contact for too long.
Here are two popular CRM tools:
- Zendesk. Zendesk lets you save all client interactions including emails, calls, notes, and other information. The Chrome Contact Clipper tool lets you incorporate your social network contacts as well. Base can be used on your desktop, your iOS or Android device, or on your Windows phone.
- Nimble. With Nimble, you create a profile window for each contact that includes their contact information including their social network information. Nimble combines all your inboxes in one place and synchs with Google Calendar to make networking easier.
Final Thoughts on Selling Freelance Services Like Web Design
Sales is not a natural skill for most web designers or developers. However, it’s an essential aspect of running a small business. Thankfully, selling freelance services doesn’t require you to be an elite salesperson.
By following the tips from this article, you’ll have success selling web design, allowing you to build a thriving freelance business.