How to win small business clients
It is difficult to disagree that small businesses would benefit from having access to a diverse pool of talent to help with specific projects or tasks. Many small businesses lack size and scale to hire on a full-time basis, especially given the costs and regulatory requirements. One would think that pitching freelance expert support to small businesses is an easy task since they are likely in need of your help. Not so fast!
Even though small businesses coming to an online services platform such as Almarelo are looking for freelance help, proposing your services to a small business requires a different approach and mindset than pitching to a larger company. In order to win a small business client over and earn fair compensation, one has to understand their priorities and be able to adjust their marketing approach. Keep in mind the following rules:
1. Make it tangible and specific
Smaller businesses focus on issues differently than larger ones. They are often concerned with more immediate and visible results rather than with a longer term strategy.
For example, while larger companies may be more concerned with having an overall marketing strategy and brand identity, smaller businesses are likely focus on more tangible things such as how to position their product or service on their web-site or where to advertise.
To get a foot in a small business’s door, start the discussion by demonstrating that you understand their priorities rather that pushing them to focus on broader issues. If you align yourself with their priorities and help them to improve things they understand, you will develop a trusted relationship that will result in follow on work.
It is much easier to introduce overarching goals like brand identity or marketing strategy once the client trusts you and you have their attention. That is the right moment to introduce your broader experience that you have gained in your career.
2. Use competitors to illustrate your point
No matter what the product or service niche your prospective client occupies, there is to be a competitor somewhere. In fact your prospective client may not be aware of all the competition. It might seem counter-intuitive, but highlighting the competition and their success in your pitch can actually enhance it.
This approach works because it allows you to demonstrate that you understand your client’s business and then to show specifically what they should do to be successful. This discussion can be coached in in terms the client can understand. It is great if you can show them success stories from your experience, but unless they are very similar to the current client’s business, it may be difficult for the client to connect with them.
3. Keep it real
We all live in an age where e-mail spam is a daily nuisance. Our inboxes are filled with e-mails that make great promises but sound too good to be true. Your prospective small business client knows it all too well since they are on the receiving end of a lot of this spam offering everything from boosting web-traffic to cutting costs or increasing sales.
When creating a proposal in response to a specific project posted on the Almarelo (or for that matter any other online platform) be realistic in what you promise and honest about the time it takes to achieve desired results. Often it is a good idea to suggest a phased approach where a client will get to see some small deliverables early on in order to be able to adjust or clarify their needs.
Also do your research and get to know your client’s business. Tailor your messaging to the specific company, and if possible, the specific person you’re contacting.
4. Take Initiative
When a small business owner posts a project for a bid, he/she knows that the business needs help with something. However, they may be unsure of all the details. As an expert, it’s your job to highlight what exactly can and should be done, and establish how you and you alone can do the improving.
Small business owners are busy with day to day running of their operations. They may not have time or experience to learn about what they can do more to impact their business success. As an expert, you should take the initiative and highlight tangible things that can be done and how they would be of benefit.
In fact many small business owners will be skeptical and try to limit the scope of the services they require to manage costs down. It’s your responsibility to show them what they may need and convince them that tasks like these are necessary. While it is not advisable to try to overload the initial project scope, it will help in the long run if you are clear about all the tasks that are needed.