Congratulations! You've won yourself a top job with a distinguished client whose name will significantly improve your portfolio.
Whatever it is you do, whether you're a designer, writer, developer or a jack of all trades, there's one company out there that you know you'd love to work with. Now the question isn't ‘how do I get their business?’ but ‘how do I get their business over and over again?’
After all, repeat customers are far more valuable.
We all have the capacity to be hired for the odd job, and while the result may be entirely satisfactory, there's a good chance we’ll never hear from that client again unless we initiate it. So let's discuss a few ways we can do that.
Let them know how you feel
It’s important that your client knows you're keen and excited by the project in hand. Of course, over-enthusiasm can be off-putting and sends out the wrong message. A professional boundary is vital for retaining trust and staying objective. This way the client knows you're serious about the job, but also engaged and entertained by it.
Make sure that when you hand in your final piece of work, you thank the client for the opportunity to work with them and remind them that you're available for future assignments. By handing in the results without much in the way of communication, the client may assume you're glad the job is done with and are not bothered about receiving anything else.
Mind your language
There is an entire psychology dedicated to the art of using persuasive language. If your use of words is authoritative, confident, clear and professional, your clients are more likely to take you seriously and follow your lead into future projects. When you discuss the possibility of potential work, ensure you do so with an emphasis on their business, not your own. Instead of saying “I think creating a new website design for your latest product would be a really interesting experience for me”, swap it around and say “From what I've seen of your business, I strongly believe that you'd benefit from a new website design for your latest product’. Not only that, but explain why you think this. Show your client that you're already brainstorming ideas, even if they haven't made up their minds about their digital future yet. And remember, some words are more powerful than others. Use sentences that include words like ‘profitable’, ‘proven’, ‘maximise’, ‘eliminate’ and ‘guaranteed’ to give a strong message about your capabilities and vision.
Wake the dead
Every freelancer has several zombi clients that are laying dormant. While it may be tempting to assume they'll pop up when they need another job doing, your persistent silence is sending out the wrong message. To rouse these customers from the dead and remind them that you're there, formulate a short, friendly, customised email to reconnect. Don't start the email with ‘Do you need any more work doing?’ This makes you look like you're running out of business and are desperate to rekindle relationships as a result. Instead, keep it casual, light and focussed on them. Ask how their business has been performing since the previous job was completed. If you designed them a website or wrote them some promotional copy, enquire about whether they've seen positive results. It's likely they will then remember that, actually, they have some business in the pipeline that may benefit from your services.
As a freelancer, you need to stay in control of your customer list at all times. This should include past and current businesses.
Communication is the key to successfully maintaining long lasting relationships, especially when there's a long line of competitors just waiting to snap up your very best customers. By remaining consistent and approachable, as well as always delivering good results, it's likely that your favourite clients will keep coming back for more.
What further tips can you add?
We all have different ways of conducting our business and keeping our heads above water. What are your go-to solutions for driving past and present business? Post them in the comments below and share them with us!