The vast majority of the people that could be amazing clients for you are not currently looking for your services. Only about 3% of your target audience is actively looking for a freelancer. So you tend to end up dumpster diving for those 3% and competing as a commodity. Stop!
Joshua Lisec shares how you can reach the 97% who have the specific problem that you know how to expertly solve and convert them into paying customers. And he shares how he positions himself as the trusted advisor in the community, thus cultivating desire for his services.
Joshua shares with us:
Joshua started out competing for writing gigs on Fiver and earning $1.67/hr, once he added it all up. He was excited at first to be making any money while still in college, but it because more difficult when his proposals started being ignored and clients started asking for discounts or simply going elsewhere. Out of frustration, he turned to books and the resources available to freelancers. Some of the books that influenced Joshua are listed in the resources mentioned section.
The turning point was the realization that he had to stop competing with everyone else. Instead, he had to build trust with his clients and talk to clients based on what their problems are and the solutions he offers. He stopped talking about what he does, “I'm a freelance copywriter,” and started talking about what his services offered, such as how to convert more online customers and have successful marketing campaigns.
How to reach the 97%
At any given time 3% of your prospects are currently in the market to buy your product or service and looking right now to get it. - Chet Holmes
If only 3% are actively looking for a freelancer, then that leaves 97% who have the specific problem that you know how to solve, but they don't know they have the problem or know the consequences of the problem if they don't fix it. This is your opportunity to provide value to the 97% through education.
Joshua became a successful freelancer because he position himself as the go to person to solve specific problems. He positioned himself as the trusted advisor.
His strategy is to approach his target audience at events that he organizes. He has teamed up with accounting firms and the chamber of commerce and other organizations with a target audience that overlaps with his target audience. Joshua approaches these firms and organizations and asks them if their clients are experiencing a specific problem, such as “Is marketing campaigns that aren't converting a concern of your clients?”.
If yes, then he sets up an event with a short presentation explaining the problem, marketing campaigns that aren't converting, and the solution. The partner organizations benefit because they are seen as an asset to their clients by connecting them to value. It also gets their clients back through their doors which helps with ongoing business for them.
Joshua provides free, valuable information while positioning himself as an expert in his niche. And he doesn't end with a sleazy sales pitch. Instead, he says: If you want to learn more about what the process of building out a solution for your situation looks like, come up and we will put a time in our calendars and chat. It's informal because he doesn't need to be persuasive and drive a sale. He front loaded the work in the presentation by presenting why the problem they are experiencing is happening and the consequences of not addressing it.
The in-person event can also work online. Joshua turned his in-person presentation into a 7 minute video up on his website. The video gets shared around on social media because he isn't making a sales pitch at the end. Instead, he is giving the customers valuable information that resonates. In fact, Joshua often gets emails in response to his video saying that they are experiencing exactly what was in the video.
You can also find clients by figuring out where your target audience goes to get help, support, and feedback. These can be trade shows, conferences, or even facebook groups. Use your previous clients as a resource by asking them where they go for help.
The Yes Trigger
Joshua employs Dale Carnegie's concept of the yes trigger to get his clients. The idea is to get the potential clients to start saying yes right away, even only to a small thing. Then get them to say yes to the next step and the next.
When people come to Joshua's event that educates them about the exact problem that they are experiencing and provides a solution, they have already said “yes” to something Joshua offered.
The next “yes” is having a meeting to see how to apply the solution to their situation. The next “yes” is to the question at the end of that meeting: If I can demonstrate a process to you where we can achieve these goals and put these processes in place, is that something you would like to take a good look at?
The next “yes” is in response to Joshua's plan to solve their problem, and then “yes” to the proposal.
Using this strategy, Joshua never has to ask the client to hire him and he is never put in the awkward spot of overtly selling himself. The best way to sell is not to sell at all.
How to price and write proposals
Joshua bases his pricing on his costs. He figures out how long a project is likely to take and applies the hourly rate that he wants in order to come up with a number. But he doesn't give the client an hourly rate or tell them the number of hours he thinks it will take. Instead, he presents the cost of the service package and each component or deliverable and, this is key, he explains what the client is paying for.
In the proposals, Joshua includes a diagnostic section where he outlines in the client's own words what their goals are, what the solutions are from their discussions, and the challenges they have already faced. In this section, Joshua presents best practices and gives a quick idea of things that they can do to get immediate improvement. He even takes screenshots of his client's site and makes notes where small changes can have big impacts. All the time, he is reminding the client of their need, because if he only presents the solution without explaining the problem, then the solution won't be seen as valuable.
Joshua also includes an action plan section. Here, he lays out the deliverables. He places deliverables, or client needs, in one column, and what he will do to solve the problem in the next column. The idea is to present what the client will get and explain what they will gain.
Joshua also includes case studies and testimonials in his proposals to show proof that he has already solved similar problems for people like his clients and got good results. Similarly, when Joshua gives the quote, he emphasizes that the payoff from the investment.
Want to learn how you can apply Joshua's strategies to your freelancing business? Check out Joshua's cheat sheets!
- Different by Youngme Moon
- How to make friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie
- The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
- Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You've Got by Jay Abraham
- Branding case study: Saddleback leather
Find Joshua online: