Selling Services and Building Trust
If you want to increase your billing rate and smooth out the sales cycle, you have to take risk out for new clients.
Establishing trust with potential clients as early as possible is a critical element to winning more business, improving your billing rate, and smoothing out client projects. Trust means that clients:
- Will be more willing to take your proposals at face value
- Will be more receptive to advice and direction during the course of a project
- Will be more willing to provide reviews and referrals to help you gain more business
Wins all around! But how can you go about gaining trust?
1. Define the problem you solve
Let’s say you’re a UI designer that works mostly in Photoshop. You have three potential ways to talk about how you approach describing your services:
- You can say you work in Photoshop
- You can say you’re a designer
- You can say you design interfaces
- You can say you design apps and web sites
Understanding the right way to go is all about putting yourself in your clients’ shoes. How do you expect them to find you? What will they be using as criteria to hire you? How do they describe their challenges?
Tailoring how you describe your offering in their terms will help you gain trust more quickly because clients will recognize you as a match for their needs. Selling yourself as, say, a Python developer only works when people know they need a Python developer. That may be a lot of people, and it may not be – understanding how to communicate with new potential clients is key to winning business and establishing good client relationships from the start.
2. Establish a niche
The most efficient, profitable businesses tend to produce the same thing over and over again at scale. That sounds a little boring, but it’s true. Ideally in services you want to establish repeatable processes that deliver effectively for your clients.
Establishing a niche is a good way to both attract a focused group of clients and establish a working process that is efficient and scalable.
For example, if you build wordpress sites and do branding for small companies, it might be even better to do that work ONLY for restaurants or real estate agents. With each client your processes will get better, and your reputation will get stronger.
People don’t pay more for Starbucks because it’s better. They pay because it’s safer. They know what they’re going to get.Me
3. Productize and establish passive income
People in services generally establish passive income through growth.
Take, for example, a law firm. Initially lawyers make money by charging clients, but as the firm grows they establish a partnership system and hierarchy that sees younger lawyers doing most of the billable hours and sales and partners taking out shares of the profit. The goal of associates, then, is to make partner, when the toil of their early years is finally rewarded.
Freelancers and small companies usually can’t take advantage of that structure. If you want to free yourself from having every dollar you earn tied directly to your time you need a different approach.
Productizing is one way to accomplish this goal. Web designers can sell services for a monthly fee rather than per hour cost. Photographers can sell stock photography. Developers can repackage code into components. These strategies can offload risk for new clients because they allow them to verify expertise more easily, as well as potentially amortize costs over a longer period.
Productizing services can actually help promote your other services. A great example is the UI Audit by Jane Portman. It’s a book that teaches you the value of what she does, and you pay to get it. Of course anyone looking to develop digital products should understand UX, and the book itself has excellent value, but it also serves to increase trust in potential clients. She’s an authority on this subject, and has a book to prove it.
Productizing helps build trust in new clients, improves your income per hour, and, best of all, can give you the freedom to earn when you aren’t working.
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