Every freelancer dreams of landing that big client—an international corporation, a Fortune 500 company, an agency you’ve always been inspired by. There’s always success and credibility associated with having been able to work with well-known brands, and that in itself becomes a point of entry to getting more and even bigger customers.
The question is, how do you get the first big client to contract your services? Here are a few ways.
The first step is to identify 3-5 potential clients that, if they show up on your website or portfolio, would mean the world to you as a professional. Try to find out as much as you can about these dream clients. Some questions to help you start would be:
It’s important to spend a significant amount of time to find out how your dream clients think and work in order to know how you can court them. Another great way to keep tabs on them is to make Google Alerts with their company name so you’ll get the latest updates right into your inbox.
If your goal is to land that dream client, then you need to take a closer look at how you market your freelance business.
Once you’ve learned everything you can about your dream clients and understood their business and objectives, then you need to align your marketing to them, not the general public. Could your brand image be too dark and premium, and your dream client a fun enterprise marketed to young people? See what adjustments you can make to make yourself appealing to them. You may also want to consider developing a marketing campaign with the goal of attracting these top prospects.
While the ultimate goal is to define how your service will help them achieve their objectives, it certainly helps that your marketing can also show that you are a good fit for each other.
You can’t catch a big fish with a tiny worm and lanky old rod. To be attractive to big clients, you need to start gaining relevant experience, building your portfolio up, and having the right structure in place.
For example, if you are a single, freelance web developer and your dream project would be to revamp a Fortune 500 company’s large website, you’ll likely need to form a small team of developers and even a content marketer or two. While you’re still working on landing that client, do your homework and start making a list of your own potential suppliers so you’ll be ready to take on your dream client when the opportunity presents itself.
Big clients always have big expectations, so you need to be able to show that you are capable of providing quality service.
Sometimes a hard sales pitch is not always the way to go. Here’s how this can work: you get a Google Alert about news coverage that your top prospect is having a situation that you can help with. You contact the head of the affected department, introduce yourself, mention seeing the report about them, and offer to email a resource that could be helpful. No appointment, no sales talk.
On the other end of the line will be a decision-maker who will remember you trying to help, and will put in some points for the next time you do try to make a pitch.
When you do get a chance to make a pitch and you feel that they are on the fence, offering a pilot project may be a good way to move forward.
A pilot project on exceptional terms, either for free (if you can afford it) or at a huge discount, can be your gateway to a bigger project with your dream client. Going back to the example of revamping the website of a Fortune 500 company, you may want to consider asking if they have microsites that they need to be worked on. This microsite will prove your ability and be your way to earn their trust with a larger project—or at least become their ‘Plan B’ vendor.
Landing a big client is a long process that can take many months to over a year. During this time, you may find yourself in endless meetings, spending hours on your contracts to get the legal department to approve them, and jumping through hoops with procurement to vet your business. These are all normal parts of trying to acquire a large customer, so don’t give up. As long as the client is engaging you, you have a chance of getting them to work with you.
For more articles about how to advance your career as a freelancer, visit the Crafters.