All freelancers must have such experience: Got an email from a prospect who asks question after question, only to decide that he or she is not interested.  It is frustrating and a waste of precious time.
Freelancers must know how to sort out good clients within limited time, decide what projects to take on and what to dismiss.

When you are approached by prospective clients, there are a few warning signs to tell who’s serious and who’s just looking around without real intention to hire freelancers.

The following three strategies are great for freelancers to manage their communication with prospects efficiently, identify core clients, and minimize deal closing time.

1. Limit your negotiation time

If a prospect takes up a lot of your time during initial discussions (writing long emails, asking tons of questions), chances are that the situations won’t get better after they accept your offer–and that’s if they decide to accept your offer.  This kind of prospect might ask for advice without talking about the project itself.

Sometimes you might feel like providing enough value to the other person will encourage them to actually work with you. But I’ve found that this often isn’t the case. Your advice and expertise aren’t free, after all.

Consultation is a service that costs money, even if you don’t execute the job. If you already offer all the solutions to the prospect, he won’t have the incentive to pay you for doing the job.

Give just enough attention to a prospect to show how knowledgeable you are and reassure them that they are in good hands if they become your customer. But if you spend much energy helping someone overly, they’ll expect it while getting your attention and expertise for free.

You can limit the email exchange before progressing to a direct communication, or first work together on smaller project. That forces your prospect to think more seriously about working with you.

2. Identify “Value First” clients from “Cost First”

Your service price is an important part of the negotiation with potential clients.  You’d better finalize price issue early than late.

Generally speaking, there are two types of clients: the “cost first” client and the “value first” client. The former focuses on getting work done at the lowest price. The “value first” client, on the other hand, wants the work done in the best quality possible and is interested in the value you can provide, while cost is secondary as long as you provide high-quality service.

If you are like most freelancers prefer to have value-driven clients, here are some key phrases to look out for in your earliest exchanges, which could signal a client who’s more focused on cost:

  • You want $100 for this? I can get that from someone on Fiverr for $1
  • “I don’t have much(I’ve heard this from people who are multimillionaires.)
  • Someone whose first question is, “How much will that cost?”

Generous customers usually have fewer demands.

If you have tried your best to make an offer and some people still focus only on cost and not on the value you provide, it may be best for you to walk away.  Get away from nightmare clients. Not every prospect will become your customer, and that’s okay.

3. Evaluate the worth of each client

According to Pareto principle (20/80 principal), 20 percent of your clients bring you 80% of income.  So it will be very helpful for any freelancer in sorting out where to devote the energy.

You can start assessing your customers, categorize them by the amount of support (i.e., time) they require relative to the revenue they generate. You can use a value quadrant like this one:

Your most valuable customers are in the top left quadrant–high revenue with little support. I’ve found that the most lucrative projects I’ve worked on actually come from clients who make fewer demands.

There are 2 benefits for doing such “Internal Research”:

  1. Once you’ve identified the ideal clients, take some time to learn more about them, and think what other value you can provide them (upselling).
  2. Find other prospects who share the same background as your value customers.

The goal is to help us focus more time with high potential clients, and not to waste time with difficult prospects that might not pay you.

You have a project and want to hire quality freelancers

Search on Micro Job Market or Post a recruit, free of charge and no commission!

mJob Market – fair trade freelance marketplace