5 Good Ways to Close a Client Deal

Do you have trouble closing client deals? Do you find yourself really close to getting a new client, only to find that the deal (and the new client) never materializes?

It’s happened to me in my freelancing business, and it’s probably also happened to you. It’s really frustrating, I know.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. You can be become better at closing deals with some practice. In this post, I’ll list a few techniques that you can use to close client deals and get more clients.


How to Close a New Client Deal

Here are five important techniques that most freelancers skip or ignore when dealing with a prospective client. Following these suggestions for closing a new client deal can help you learn to close more deals (and avoid frustration):

  1. Pay attention and ask for details. You’d be surprised at how many freelancers don’t take the time to read a request for a proposal carefully. Instead, they just shoot off a price and expect the prospective client to hire them immediately. You’ll really stand out if you read the client’s information carefully and think carefully about what they are asking and how it fits within their business goals. If there is something in their request that you are unsure about, ask them for details–it will actually increase your chances of winning the job.
  2. Do your homework. Do a little bit of research about the client and their industry. Have you ever worked for a client in this industry before? If so, you can point to that piece in your portfolio to show that client that you are familiar with his or her field. Also, using your prior experience and/or your research, can you think additional or better ways to help the client meet his or her goal? If so, be sure to bring these points up in your discussions with the client.
  3. Ask for the business. This sounds simple, but you’d be surprised at how few freelancers actually ask for the business outright. To ask for the business, you can say something in your correspondence like, “I’m really excited about this project and would like to handle it for you.” If you happen to meet with the client in his or her office, look them in the eye and say something to the effect of, “I’d really like to do this job.” This tells the client that you really want the work. Enthusiasm counts!
  4. Be positive in your communications. This is a subtle technique, but it really works. Go with the assumption that you will get the business. Instead of using phrases like “if I do this project” make sure that your correspondence talks about “when I do this project.” Also, don’t wait for the client to ask you when you can start. Give them a starting date–”just give me the word and I can start as soon as Monday…”
  5. Follow up with the client. So, a few days have come and gone and you haven’t heard back from the client. It’s easy to automatically assume that you didn’t get the work, but that might not be the case at all. There are many legitimate reasons why a potential client might not respond quickly. Something may have happened to put the project on the back burner. Contacting a client after a few days and letting them know that you are still available and interested in working for them might just be enough to clinch the deal.

Bonus tip: Most freelancers keep a list of clients that they have done work for in the past. Naturally, you should contact these old clients on a regular basis to see whether they have additional projects. However, you should also keep a list of potential clients who did not hire you. You should regularly contact these former prospective clients as well. (Even if the prospect didn’t select you for their project the first time, remember that they were seriously interested in working with you at one point.)

Your Mindset Makes a Difference

One reason why most people are not good at sales is because they give up too easily. They are too ready to think that they won’t get the business or too shy to really promote themselves.

Unfortunately, being shy or negative isn’t good for business.

You can be the best freelance writer, freelance designer, freelancer programmer, or whatever type of freelancer you happen to be–but, if you don’t learn to close the deal, your freelancing business is already in trouble.

It’s time to take on the salesperson role and go out there and get yourself some new business.

What About You?

How do you close deals? What techniques work best for you?

Share your answers in the comments.

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Comments

  1. says

    All excellent points. And, on the point about following up with a potential client: always follow up!

    A couple of weeks ago when I followed up a quote I’d sent a prospect, he said he hadn’t received it. I didn’t get an ‘undeliverable’ message so it either went in his spam folder or he simply missed seeing it in his inbox. Either way, I thought he’d got my email and he probably thought I wasn’t that interested and so hadn’t bothered to quote him.

  2. says

    Seems like I’m having problems posting a comment, so I’ll try again:

    All excellent points. And, on the point about following up with a potential client: always follow up!

    A couple of weeks ago when I followed up a quote I’d sent a prospect, he said he hadn’t received it. I didn’t get an ‘undeliverable’ message so it either went in his spam folder or he simply missed seeing it in his inbox. Either way, I thought he’d got my email and he probably thought I wasn’t that interested and so hadn’t bothered to quote him.

  3. says

    These are all excellent points. And, on the point about following up with a potential client: always follow up!

    A couple of weeks ago when I followed up a quote I’d sent a prospect, he said he hadn’t received it. I didn’t get an ‘undeliverable’ message so it either went in his spam folder or he simply missed seeing it in his inbox. Either way, I thought he’d got my email and he probably thought I wasn’t that interested and so hadn’t bothered to quote him.

  4. says

    All very good points Laura. Your attitude and overall positive attitude towards a client and their project is a huge plus to getting the job closed.

    Also, for those who want or need a good client address book software, we use XemiCo. It is entirely free and you can keep track of all your clients in 1 spot.

    I am not 100% if it will work on Macs, but I know it works on PC’s.

    Download link can be found here:

    http://www.xemico.com/xbook/

  5. says

    You listed some very good tips! These are tips that I would hope we all do, but they are a very good reminder of what a client wants and expects from a professional.

    I would also say that following through is a good way to close a deal. I just received a project from an organization that said how excited they were that someone was actually following through with the project. I guess a few freelancers bidded out to the project, got assigned the projected, then never actually followed through with it. That’s amazing to me, but it made me stand out.

    I also like the bonus tip! It’s a good idea to keep your name in front of potential clients.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. says

    It happened to me to be really to get a project, than I would never get a response from the client anymore, not even that they choose somebody else or they don’t want to do the project anymore.
    Now that I read your points, I was already doing most of them, but sometimes you cannot always control the outcome.

  7. says

    Great feedback everyone!

    Freelance FactFile, I’m not sure why legitimate comments are sometimes blocked. :( At least your comments eventually got out.

    Eddie Garrison, I’m not familiar with xemico, but I’ll certainly look into it.

    Jen, I can’t believe that freelancers would drop a project like that either. However, a client once told me that they have difficulties getting freelancers to take their deadlines seriously.

    Lucian, It’s true. Sometimes even your best efforts won’t work. But, if you can generate even a few additional clients using these tips then it may be worth it.

  8. says

    I really needed to read this post! I feel bad when I don’t close a deal because I spend a lot of time preparing my proposals. I even subscribe to the prospect’s newsletter, watch their videos (if any) and really try to get a feel for who they are, what their business is, who their target market is, and what their style and tone are.

    I think what’s missing in my case is the follow up. I do feel shy about bugging people – especially since it could lead to me getting rejected.

    But, as you say, following up is extremely important.

  9. says

    The lawyer in me would like to add a sixth really good way to close a deal – get it in writing. There is nothing wrong with having a contract.

    I see too many freelancers scared to ask for something in writing. A great way to put a positive spin on it is to state that you want to make sure that the requirements are understood by both parties and that the most effective way to do that is to put them in writing. Then, once they are in writing (with the agreed to fee and payment terms also clearly spelled out) get them to acknowledge that the document is agreed to and accurate.

  10. says

    No. 2 is very important – “Do you homework”.
    Prospective clients appreciate it very much if the suppliers know a lot about them and their business. Though asking questions is healthy in general, it’s much better if questions are based on your knowledge about the business. Clients are most likely more cooperative if you don’t ask general questions about their business. I also think it is important that suppliers are very proactive with the client’s requirements. Initiatives get you points.

    With the right attitude, you will be able to Convert Clients Like a Pro , which in turn will win you the account :)

  11. says

    Lexi,

    I’m really glad that you found the post useful. I hope that some of these techniques benefit you. However, if you are doing everything that you can and still don’t close the deal the problem is probably not you, but them.

    Fred,

    I definitely agree that it’s important to get agreements in writing.

  12. says

    Excellent article, thank you! Getting all the details is very important and shows the client that you are attentive to their needs and fully invested in the project. It also helps eliminate miscommunication.

  13. says

    Laura – Its a very basic address book for contacts/clients but it is easy to work, has a notes section and best of all it is 100% free. We use here and love what it does for our organization of clients.

  14. says

    I totally agree with you Laura. Doing your homework and showing your potential client that you’re interested in the job will definitely boost your chances of getting it. Whenever a potential client tells me about his job, I always ask him questions (based on my research of his business & industry of course) and talk to him as if I’m actually the one he hired to do the work. This works for me lots of times. :)

  15. Philip Turpin says

    It’s amazing how many times I hear #3. However, it’s amazing how many times I forget #3 so I never tire of reading / hearing it :)

  16. says

    Great tips Laura for all freelancers, ‘too shy to really promote themselves’ was an issue I had for the first few years, even though I could do the work I just didn’t have the confidence to sell myself. But that changed once I started to go hungry for a few weeks, so I pulled my finger out and pushed my sales techniques. 5 years later Ive got a fat belly and don’t feel hungry no more!

  17. says

    Excellent points that all freelancers, new or experienced should take on board. Confidence is key like with so many things, designers have a habit of feeling uncomfortable dealing with the business side of things but you have to take control of this or your freelance career could be a short one.

    Communication is key too, I’ve lost out on jobs before by poor communication (not being clear about what I’m asking/saying) or through lack of response but never by being too quick or concise!

  18. says

    Business is an art form, a way of speech if you will, people are easy to sell, you just have to know what they like to hear. My favorite is getting the client/customer pumped up and enthusiastic about a project. It really gets everyone excited, and in that happy state of mind, its easy to say yes. So with that said much success to everyone out there this year and lets close some deals!

  19. says

    Spend lots of pre-sales time & work putting together an incredible proposal. Especially for larger clients/projects – it will be worth the time, as you’re much more likely to get the job. Lots of research, and customizing your proposal for the client (stop using your same old template!!!)

    If you put together a proposal with the attitude of making it “good enough that I hope they will choose me”, you will lose. If you create the proposal with the attitude of “why in the world would they choose someone else after reading through my proposal?” then you will get the job.

    And oh yeah – remove all BS & “fluff” from your proposal. :)

  20. says

    Asking pertinent questions is essential. You can help the potential client clarify her own project, demonstrating that you are a partner in their success. Show that you care and you’ll more than likely land the gig.

  21. says

    Thats true… Creative folks and Artists generally love to stay away from the crowd… But once you jump into freelancing or start your own Studio you gotto break that wall around you and open up…

    Dont feel insecure becos you are new to the system… Jus give your best shot and keep knocking the doors (politely though)… you can crack the deal…

  22. says

    Closing deals is always about confidence and presentation. Although some deals will slip through your fingers you will walk away with more closes and no worries about the ones that you miss out on. Persistence is a delicate dance though , don’t be too pesty and do i t right the first time. Good Article!

  23. says

    Excellent tips, the follow up is particularly important, it should never be assumed that a deal is lost until the client says so. It also shows that you’re keen about the job and if you’re up against multiple other people it can help set you apart from the rest if it goes down to the wire. But never be pushy in your follow up, no prospective client appreciates being pushed.

  24. says

    Great tips! I also recommend contacting past clients. I went through my email address list a few months ago. My first thought was to delete the emails of old clients, but I thought that I would sent them a “hows it going, I am here if you need help with anything email.” Out of 10 emails set, 5 had little projects for me to do but 1 had a huge project!

  25. says

    I think when it comes down to asking for the sale, it’s a little more than ‘I’d really like to do this job’. Sometimes, you really need to ask: ‘Would you like to buy?’

    That’s asking for the sale, and leaves no room for doubt..

  26. GT says

    Hi,
    I am not a freelancer, nor a salesman. However, I do appreciate your posting and want to drop a note here for you and for myself (as client experience):
    Yesterday, we got a telephone call from the piano tuner, reminding us that it has been a while ago the he checked our piano. Since we were so happy with his work last time, we immediately made appointments next week. Now we also appreciate that he is taking this initiative reminding us.

    Cheers,

    GT

  27. says

    5 Good Ways to Close a Client Deal | FreelanceFolder I was suggested this web site by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my trouble. You are wonderful! Thanks! your article about 5 Good Ways to Close a Client Deal | FreelanceFolderBest Regards Shane

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