How to Sell Your Services: The Art & Science of Signing Clients for Agencies and Freelancers

In the world of Fiverr and Unsplash, it’s tough to try to sell a service, especially in a creative field. For freelancers in particular, it can feel like a race to the bottom (when it comes to your rates).

Freelance and agency creatives are looking for what feels a little like the holy grail these days: clients who want recurring work that’s high quality—and are willing to pay what it’s worth. What you’re worth.

They’re elusive, but they’re out there. With the right set of skills and tools, you can attract them. Clients don’t just invest in your work, they invest in you.

Anyone who’s tried to sell a service before knows that clients buy from people they know, like and trust. One of the best tools you have at your disposal is your ability to build a relationship and a rapport with a potential client. Spend a little time wooing a client before you try to sell to them. Let them get to know you.

As Mary Lou Kownacki said, “There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.” So tell your story and get your clients to love you back.

One important way to tell that story is to build a personal brand. Define who you are and what you stand for. This translates naturally to your company or freelance business. The kinds of clients you’re looking for will appreciate that your business stands for something.What clients want

One of the quickest ways to impress a potential boss, associate, or client is to understand their needs. Dale Carnegie wrote “How to Win Friends and Influence People” back in 1936, but one of its biggest takeaways that stands the test of time (and the part that has stuck firmly in my brain since I read it for a communications class my freshman year) comes from Carnegie’s search for a job at a bank. Instead of focusing on why he wanted the job, Carnegie made his entire application about what the business needed and how he could offer it. It worked. He got an offer.

You should do the same for your prospective clients. Understand what they need, and then work on selling them by telling them, specifically, how you can meet their needs. This may involve specializing in specific industries, showcasing your knowledge on social media or your blog, whatever it takes to make yourself look credible and prove to prospective clients that you know what they need.

Focus on outcomes first

Something that many freelancers and agency creatives don’t realize is that clients don’t actually care about the service you’re offering (sorry). What they actually care about is how it’s going to help them. You need to sell them an outcome, not your service.

That means the price you charge isn’t the most important piece of information. It’s the value you deliver. When you’re marketing your services to a potential client, focus on the value over the price, and make it clear how you’re going to go above and beyond their expectations for what you can deliver.

If you have it, provide the prospective client with data showing your past outcomes. Show them how much you’ve increased blog traffic with your SEO-optimized writing. Show them how your designs make data visualization simple and effective. Like this:

Focus on feelings second

Remember that part earlier where we talked about how selling a service is essentially selling yourself? That’s still true.

Here’s the thing: humans are emotional by nature. So while you want your first focus to be on showing them how you can solve their problems and meet their needs, if it’s important to appeal to their emotions. It’s one easy way to build that service provider-client rapport we were talking about.

To appeal to potential clients’ emotions, you have to know what they’re passionate about. Doing some research on them and their business should reveal that. Talk to them about the things they love, make them feel comfortable, build trust. Not only will it land you the clients you want, but it will make for a better working relationship in the long-term. Win-win.

Prove you’re as good as you say

To get the clients you want, you have to prove you can deliver on what you’re promising. Data from past projects helps, but there are other ways you can put your money where your mouth is.

You’re a creative person, so use your natural storytelling skills. Always have a few good stories ready to go to tell prospective clients all about how you have delivered for clients in the recent past. Try to focus on businesses similar to theirs, or clients who hired you to help with similar problems, so the stories are super relevant to what they need.

If your past clients are happy with your work, don’t be afraid to ask them for testimonials and referrals! Studies show that people trust online reviews just as much as they trust a recommendation from a friend or family member, so get your happiest clients to help you out by telling prospective clients just how awesome you are (in testimonial or referral form).

Be as accessible as possible

One of the best ways you can get the best clients is to play the volume game and just get as many clients as possible. Paperform can help with that.

With Paperform, it’s easy to create multiple landing pages for different industries, giving every client a specialized experience that will show them your expertise and skill relevant to their needs. It’s also easy to embed sleek, branded lead-generating forms in other mediums, like the social media and blog posts you use to show off your knowledge. You can even make a form for your existing clients to write testimonials or refer their friends, family, and colleagues to you.

From landing pages that sell your services and collect leads, to client onboarding, to simple forms to collect payments or even set up a retainer, Paperform can simplify the process and cut down on the time and effort required for both you and the client. You can create your own forms from scratch or use one of dozens of handy, proven templates. The form editor works like a simple document editor, so your forms can be customized and up and running in a matter of minutes.

This creative life ain’t easy. But it doesn’t mean you can’t get those clients.

Paul Perry

Paperform + Process Street: How to Use Zapier to Kickstart Your Client Onboarding Process

Respond quickly and complete all of the necessary steps to deliver a first-class onboarding experience.

Alex Gallia

Subscription Services: How to Give Your Talents and Skills Recurring Value

With subscription-based services, you offer your clients more than just a service; you provide them with an ongoing experience. Too often though, we fail to recognize that a single job can quickly expand into a long-term relationship.

Stephen Altrogge

Landing Your Best Donors: How the Right Landing Page Draws More than Just Donations

Donations are the lifeblood of any nonprofit or charity organization. Here’s how to use the digital tools of today to maximize the contributions to your cause.

Stephen Altrogge

Stop Guessing, Start Asking: How to Conduct Market Research Without a Massive Budget

Market research can seem like a heavy lift for small businesses. But, with modern technology, you don’t need advanced tools or sophisticated training to gather useful data. This 6-step process walks you through everything you need to make your company smarter.

Tyler Hakes

Knowledge is Money: How to Turn Your Passion in a Money-Making Enterprise

Tired of reading articles about the latest internet success story and wonder high they got there. Wonder no more. Here’s how to turn your passion and knowledge into an online business.

Stephen Altrogge