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  • Diana Schneidman

Freelancing and consulting: How to identify the best prospects

I see questions on the internet about how to approach prospective clients who clearly need help with the services we offer.

In particular, corporate websites and other online communications give us the opportunity to evaluate the writing, graphic design, SEO, marketing strategy and other capabilities of companies. We professional service providers see obvious shortcomings in design, implementation, spelling, frequency of updates, etc. and conclude that we have identified hot prospects that can easily be converted into paying customers.

Alas, this is often not the case. Yes, these companies could benefit from hiring outside assistance. Yes, their problems are glaring. But unfortunately, executives who are willing to go ahead with grossly substandard elements are highly unlikely to pay appropriate professional rates for services.

Perhaps they can’t see the problems. Or they see the problems but think the importance of these “details” is overrated. Or their egos are sensitive so they prefer to overlook these issues. Or they don’t have any money to spend on improvements. Or they have resources but want to spend them elsewhere.

Freelancers and consultants ask how to reach out and explain the problem to decision makers at target companies they have selected by scanning the internet.

But whatever the issue, these people make for poor prospects. They don’t want to hear what is wrong with their online presence. They are overly sensitive or stupid or simply underfinanced.

Sorry, it doesn’t matter how you explain it. They most likely will not hire you.

If their presence is really so pathetic, there’s something wrong with them. They may be easily offended. They may be hiding from the truth. Or they may have no money.

It’s counterintuitive, but the better prospects already demonstrate excellence in the services you offer.

Those who already excel are most likely to recognize how time consuming it is to do top-quality work and to value this work enough to pay for it.

When phoning prospects for my writing services, I often contact insurance professionals who have been published or profiled in industry publications.

At first glance, it sounds crazy. They either wrote it themselves or they hired a freelancer to write it for them. Why would they need me for anything?

However, in practice, when I call someone and refer to the article, they don’t say what you’d expect, which is, “Why are you calling me? Can’t you see that I’ve got it taken care of?”

No, they may actually be interested. If they are not interested, they are flattered that I saw their article. So it’s still a pretty warm call.

Those who have written in the past or hired others to do it for them tend to be those who value strong writing and understand the importance of working with someone who is on the ball and action oriented.

That’s why they are the best people to approach with your services!

Originally posted 8-26-14

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