What I have learned is that many many potential clients will complain about not having time or money – so build a website/copywrite/design/etc quick and cheap. This is not the way to a prosperous future.
But there are ways to shift this mindset. It may not happen the first time you talk to them, but if they are worth working with, it does happen with a little effort and time.
So my top 10 ways for turning a lead into a high paying client.
1. Give advice for free. Whether it’s a logo redesign, new website, or an app.. whatever they are doing now is not working. Just give them 5 ideas of what you could do and how VALUE would result from doing it. This isn’t a spend your day thing, this is, dedicate 20 minutes and use your brain and experience.
2. Ask them if they know who their customers are. If they come back with ‘everyone’, then they have some learning to do. Patiently explain that building anything for their business should speak to their customer directly. And that customer cannot be an 18 year old college student and a retired couple living in Florida. Niching is scary, but if you can get them to understand that speaking to one group of people in their language is the difference between 1 paying client in 1000 and 1 in 10.
3. Dig deeper. Understand that if your lead says they want it cheap that is is rarely about the cost. Most likely they are mad at themselves for a previous mistake, or a partner has said that x-freelancers are highway robbers. Take the time to dig deeper into this statement, find out what they are really talking about.
4. Mitigate risk for them (1). Most clients have a fear that you will disappear once the job is done. It happens all the time right? Create an ongoing plan for support. This should be a minimum of 1 month follow up included in the price, and then offer ongoing support at a cost. Not only does this protect you, but if gives them peace of mind.
5. Mitigate risk for them (2). Almost every client/lead I have spoken to is afraid of making a change and it not working. This is where the value approach really works. You should not just be a designer/developer/copywriter, you should also be a business person who can problem solve. You need to put into words that the changes you make should get them x more customers resulting in x more cash. Which should equate to something much higher then you are about to charge.
6. Mitigate risk for them (3). Offer a mini job. Take one small thing you might have discovered in Number 1, and do that for them first. Getting a new client to pay you $200 is much easier then getting them to pay $5000. Make sure it adds value, and make sure you are not selling yourself short.
7. Speak in their language. Just as your client should speak to their customers in their language, you need to speak to yours in theirs. Take time to listen to what they are saying. Dig deeper, you are looking for their need, not their complaint, not how you can share your knowledge, but what is the burning pain/desire underneath their voice. I have found that sometimes I need to repeat back what I think they have said 3 or 4 times, stated a tiny bit differently each time before they nod their head.
8. Get them to talk about what their ROI is. Most small business owners don’t take the time to think about this. They think they need to update their site, get some SEO, modernize their look, but none of that matters if you are not converting visitors into customers. What do they expect your work to do for them. Gain leads, email addresses, purchases, appointments, etc… This is vital to know so you can define how you create value. (Number 5)
9. Don’t stop after 1 contact, or even 2. By no means am I talking about harassment, but a drip of contact that provides value (maybe breaking down number 1 into 4 emails/phonecalls). Sometimes a client just isn’t ready, but when they are, who will stick out in their mind more? The person who offered value, deep understanding, and who’s name is in their inbox? Or a random search on google.
10. Be compassionate, be empathetic, be in their shoes. You may know more then they do (about everything), they may irritate you with their overenthusiastic greeting, and they may have a negative reply to everything you suggest; but that doesn’t mean they are wrong. People (and leads/clients) are more then their actions and words. We all protect ourselves and our interests by the face we put out to the world. Take the time to listen to people and really understand, and you just may have an ally (and client) for life.