Pitching to prospects is stressful and time-consuming, but what a thrill it is to be invited to discuss a project! With much anticipation, time and energy are directed to preparing for the meeting and, if asked to do so, also writing a proposal to outline how the client’s goals would be achieved.
It’s frustrating if your proposal is rejected or even worse, if you never again hear from that prospect. It’s therefore imperative that Solopreneurs plan to improve our client acquisition rate and minimize negative outcomes.
Recommendations by satisfied customers are trust-building votes of confidence. A referral made by someone known and respected by the prospect is the ideal endorsement. Word-of-mouth is always the best advertisement.
LinkedIn recommendations are lukewarm. Testimonials that appear on your website are powerful, especially those given by a prestige client. Better still is to invite a client to participate in a case study that details what it’s like to work with you, so the story can appear on your website.
Samples of your work
Create a portfolio of case studies or samples of your work to provide some show and tell for prospects. They deserve the opportunity to view and evaluate your work, so they can envision the match-up between the outcomes they must achieve and the solutions you would deliver. Curate your portfolio by choosing projects that demonstrate the expertise you want to showcase. A good portfolio will also help to justify your (premium) pricing.
Prospective clients expect all professionals to have an online presence and before deciding to contact a Solopreneur specialist, an internet search is conducted. Prospects want to know who you are and confirm that you’re legitimate.
There are those rare Solopreneurs who’ve been able to build a successful client list without an online presence. Whether or not you have a website, cultivate your digital persona through social media, or post press releases online to publicize speaking engagements, participation in charity or community events, or announce an award you’ve received.
Writing a newsletter or blog, podcast guest appearances, or uploading a video clip of yourself in action are additional options to establish a credible digital presence that’s designed to reassure prospects.
The ultimate reason that clients hire Solopreneur specialists is that they believe these individuals will bring significant value to the project and make the hiring decision-maker look smart. Merely describing your products and services is no longer sufficient to win assignments in a hyper-competitive marketplace filled with highly qualified professionals who are available and hungry for billable hours.
Communicating your exceptional value is the way to get hired and your value must be demonstrated in numerous ways. Like a trial lawyer, layer on examples of your competencies until the preponderance of evidence tips in your favor. Make the case of how the client’s job will become easier, the company will save money, will be better positioned to make money and that mission-critical goals will be achieved, with you on the job.
When a prospect has agreed to discuss doing business, or when you must confirm whether you’ll be awarded a contract after you’ve discussed the project, there are two possible actions you might take:
1). Active pursuit, when you send an email to either encourage setting up a meeting, or to learn the outcome of a hiring decision.
2). Passively waiting for the prospect to contact you.
According to experts, neither approach is useful. A diplomatic way to keep your proposal on the front burner is needed. Why not telephone or text the prospect three or four days after you’ve sent your proposal, to confirm that it has been received, or follow-up after a discussion about the project? You may also ask when s/he would like to begin the project work. Open the door a little wider and suggest that you’d be happy to start work ASAP on an urgent action item, so that the deadline will be comfortably reached.
Solopreneurs have two jobs: finding projects and then completing those projects. Our ability to survive financially is directly tied to this process. As companies continue to shrink full-time workforces, the number of Solopreneurs grows. In order to compete successfully, we must always be positioned to acquire clients and generate adequate revenue.
Thanks for reading,