We're in the middle of the holiday season and I hope you're having a jolly time. The holiday season is that time of the year where work often takes a backseat.
During the holiday season, some of my clients seem to care less about work and more about holidays. (If you're into social media, I admire you for everything you pull off during these months.)
But that's not something I want to talk about today.
The last few days were quite interesting from work perspective for me. The leads I would have ignored otherwise turned out to be gold and the clients who were rock solid turned mum.
I know you must have also experienced it at some point in your life. It hasn't happened to me for the first time. But this situation reminded me of an important thing.
Every lead is a prospect but this doesn't mean every one of them will turn out to be a client.
We all get inbound leads all the time - from social media, blogs, guest features and so on. But you can't have a 100% hit rate with inbound, too (even when they've seen your work and need something similar).
When you're selling something, you need to remember one important thing - Not everyone who asks the price will buy from you.
It hurts, I know. But that's how the world works.
What should you do when your leads are not converting into paying clients? There are two ways to deal with this situation:
1. Improve your positioning & proposal
When the majority of inbound leads end up wasting your time, it's time to look into the mirror.
You might be attracting the wrong kind of clients with your social and online persona.
Check your LinkedIn profile, website and other channels to see if there's a mismatch between what you do for clients and what you're promising (Trust me, when you write for yourself, you get confused a lot, and clarity takes a backseat).
Let's say, you write blogs for software companies to help them with top-of-the-funnel awareness and attract inbound leads. But you portray yourself as a 'content strategist' in your LinkedIn profile.
There's no harm in doing that, but trust me, there's a lot more to a content strategy than just blogging.
It is always better to position yourself as close as possible to your routine or best work. (It's good to be aspirational, but when you do, make sure you have substance to satisfy the incoming queries. Good clients can differentiate between substance and aspiration.)
Secondly, you should have a conversion process - from your first email to proposals and follow up sequences. You should know when to trigger an action and what to send at that point.
An important part of this process is your pitch or proposal.
If you are relying on hope and good faith, you'll definitely end up with a cold response after you submit your best quote/proposals. (Clients don't talk to just one person before handing over their project. And they can't definitely buy from everyone. They also have their business to manage. So, it's common for them to forget your proposal, if it doesn't have anything that stands out.)
To remind you about the process of creating a pitch that attracts a response, I am re-sharing the link to one of my old blogs on cold pitches (here). Refresh the process in your mind and create proposals on similar lines even for warm leads.
2. Learn the art of early-stage lead qualification
Let's say your positioning and pitch are in their best form. Still, you end up wasting several hours every week negotiating and renegotiating with prospects. In the end, you're greeted with a negative response (or worse, no response at all).
The time you spent on negotiating counts as wastage of your productive hours (which you could have used to write for clients, yourself or market your offering).
To save your time, you need to build a lead qualification criteria for yourself. You must have read about it, right?
Every freelancer should jot down some red flags that serve as basic lead qualification criteria (Prospects talking of bulk work, exposure, etc. is a basic example). But when you climb up the ladder, these basic pointers would stop working.
So, it's important to write down some personal 'YAY!' & 'NAY!' points . The things that excite you to work for someone are YAYs and the things that make you want to jump off a cliff as soon as you hear them are the NAYs.
You should create this list yourself instead of following someone else's qualification criteria. Because what's a red flag for someone might not be for you necessarily.
Once you create a lead qualification criteria, evaluate each incoming lead on the parameters and you will understand if it is fruitful to spend time on them even before you send in your first proposal.
Your lead qualification criteria won't be ready in a day (or even a month). It can take a while. Take it as a sum total of all the bad client/work experiences you don't want to face again.
So, give some thought into it and start jotting down the pointers that disappoint you.
If you get stuck while creating a qualification criteria, just send email or text me and we'll work on refining the criteria together.
Let's say you do this. But still, you feel bad about your conversion rates. (Here is something to cheer you up- the ideal eCommerce conversion rate is around 2% according to BigCommerce)
At that point, you can start doing something else right away- start building relationships. It is always better to stay in touch with the prospects, just in case they need you for the future.
There's something I wrote on keeping leads warm without a lot of active effort. Check it out now. I hope this would keep your spirits high while your next prospect ghosts you. (Trust me, there will always be some who will ghost you).
Remember, the key to winning isn't in hitting every ball out of the park. It is in keeping eyes on the target and staying prepared - wait for the right ball and hit a spectacular six. That's how you create history.
Till the next time... Keep freelancing!
Your freelancing companion
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