Here are nine tips that will have your loving contracts and winning more contracts, faster.
1. Contracts Build Trust
As I mentioned, having a contract in place is important for many reasons. But as a freelancer, one of the most important reasons is that it will spark conversations between you and your client which will lead to trust.
Here’s an example: let’s say you have a clause in your contract that says you will be building your client’s site on a staging server. Your client doesn’t know what a staging server is, so they give you a call asking about it. You take the time to explain what a staging server is, and why this is beneficial to them. You just established trust with your client.
2. You Don’t Have To Call It A Contract
Many clients and freelancers get scared by the word “contract.” They initially think of long documents full of legal jargon that only lawyers understand. So when you present your client with a contract, they may be hesitant to sign.
Luckily, you don’t need to call it a contract. As Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”.
Call your contract something else. Two of my favorite alternatives are “statement of work” and “client agreement.”
They serve the same purpose, but without the negative connotation of “contract”.
3. Provide An Estimate, But With Padding
Pricing your service is hard. As freelancers, we always struggle with preventing under or overcharging. So much so that we hesitate to give our clients an exact price.
But think of it from your client’s point of view: if they don’t know what they will be paying, why would they sign the contract?
So when you send your contract to your client, include your project estimate as an exact price (i.e., $5,000). But also include some padding. So you can say it’s $5,000 estimate, give or take $1,000. This will give you enough padding in case you find you under or overestimated the amount of work required.
4. Talk Face-to-Face Or By Phone
Remember: if you want to win the contract, you need to establish trust.
Instead, when you are discussing the project with your client, do it either in person, by phone, or through video conferencing. Allowing your client to see and hear you will allow them to get to know you on a deeper level. This will boost trust and help you win that contract.
5. Understand Your Client’s Needs
When having the initial discussions with your client, you want to understand their needs and why they want to begin this project.
To understand their needs, you need to ask the right questions and listen. Jennifer Bourn of Bourn Creative suggested some great questions to ask:
- Tell me about your business
- Why do you need this project done?
- How is not having this project done affecting your business?
- What will change if this project is completed?
Having an understanding of your client’s needs will help when crafting your contract, as well as help when you need to counter your client’s objections…
6. Be Prepared For Objections
When you present your client with the contract, they will have questions and objections: “Why does it cost so much?”, “Why should I hire you rather than anyone else,” “How much work is required on my part?”
You want to be prepared for these types of objections and be able to provide clear counter points.
For instance, one of the reasons Jennifer Bourn suggests asking the questions I mentioned is that you can use them to counter their “Why does it cost so much?” objection. Perhaps during your discussion, they mentioned that building an online store will allow them to increase revenue by $150,000 a year. Well, if that is the case, then spending $15,000 on an eCommerce website is a great investment with a high ROI. Why wouldn’t they want to work with you then?
7. Provide A Full Proposal/Contract Rather Than Just An Estimate
Once the details have been hammered out verbally, many freelancers will send an estimate to their client in an email basically saying, “So with what we discussed, it will cost X dollars to do this project.”
There are two problems here.
First off, this frames the project as a cost to the client. In a full proposal, you would discuss what this project includes, what it will do for the business and more. In a full proposal, you are framing the project as an investment.
Secondly, what does the client do if they decide to accept? There’s no clear way for them to agree or sign.
Instead, I take the time to prepare a full proposal/contract to send to my clients and use a software to allow them to sign digitally.
8. Use A Tool That Allows Digital Signatures
When I send my clients contracts, I use Bidsketch. It not only allows me to write proposals/contracts faster but also allows my clients to sign them digitally.
So, if I send a client a contract/proposal and they are ready to begin, they know exactly what they need to do to agree. And signing is faster. No having to print out the document, sign it, scan it, and send it back over.
Early in my freelancing career, I would send a client a contract or proposal, and then just wait for the client to get back to me. If I didn’t hear from them, I figured they weren’t interested and moved on.
Pretty stupid, huh?
One day, I had the clarity to follow up with one of my clients. Even though I hadn’t heard from them in a month, they still wanted to hire me, they had just got caught up in work. We signed the contract that day.
So after you send a client a contract, follow up. I’ll follow up the next day to make sure they received the contract. Then a week later, if I haven’t heard from them, I will ask if they have any questions. A month later, I’ll see if they are still interested. And three months later, I’ll see if they’d like to revisit it.
It’s simple and easy to follow up, but it has brought me so many projects I would have lost. I don’t even like to think about the projects I did lose by not following up.
What Tips Do You Have?
Do you have any tips that work for you to win contracts?
Please share them in the comments below.