Here are four ways to add value for local clients when your goal is to sell websites as a freelancer. Each will help you stand out from the crowd and get a leg up, even if you’re a complete beginner with business.
I learned these the hard way, so you don’t have to!
1) Target Specific Business Niche
The thing about websites is that every business on earth (and person) should have a website. So there’s no excuse not to have a website in 2021 and beyond.
When you go down to the local level, there are way more bad websites than good ones. At least 50% of small businesses don’t have a website or have an old site needing an update.
Business websites won’t take off unless you learn about online marketing and how to drive traffic.
The best thing you can do is focus on one business type and get an in-depth understanding of how successful players operate.
Most of my local clients are home service contractors, and you can even niche down further if you want to go into one craft – i.e., roofing or kitchen remodeling.
When you reach out to local businesses and only work with companies like them, you’re immediately separating yourself from the do-it-all freelancer.
You’ll start to understand how customers interact with the website and get to know the manufacturers, organizations, and associations within the industry. These help sales conversations with a business owner when you understand what they do every day to make their living.
2) Start with One Offer
Target one business type and offer them one service that you think they need.
Everybody has seen the freelancer that says, “I can do websites, social media, SEO, graphic design, whatever you need.” And when you come off like that, you don’t appear to have expertise in any of them.
That’s what every canned outreach template looks like when sending out cold emails.
The opening line usually starts with your skills, and that’s the WRONG approach.
Business owners don’t care about your skills. Instead, they care about how you can help their business do better online.
I recommend starting with web design to get a local client set up with a good brand website. One common trend is that almost all offline companies with brand recognition will get people searching for their business name. So you want a great website to be the first result, not a 3rd-party page that might have negative reviews you cannot control.
That’s a considerable benefit undervalued by those still skeptical of the online world and worth pushing in your initial sales conversation.
The best way to increase your profit after landing a web design client is by upselling your current ones with your other services when they need them.
3) Build Trust by Listening
When you’re prospecting with those you don’t know (cold outreach), the most important thing is building trust. Unfortunately, too many people go for an immediate sale.
Instead, you want to help this person genuinely. Even if they aren’t a great match, 10-15 minutes on a phone call answering a few questions goes a long way. You never know when a good first impression leads to a potential client or referral down the road.
I always recommend that you send cold emails to set up a phone conversation or an in-person meeting.
You’re probably thinking you need a well-written sales script and follow it like an actor or telemarketer.
Scripts are just guides.
The best script is a list of questions. Ask them questions, let them answer, then you sit back and listen. You’ll begin to understand where they’ve had issues in the past, whether it be with a past designer or a big company.
I always print the questionnaire and write down the answers. You can guide the conversation based on their answers because every person has a particular sticking point that holds them back. It could be tech knowledge, a lack of trust from previous bad experiences, or financial stinginess.
In the world we live in, they must adapt, or their local business might die!
Let them do more of the talking, and you’re listening and taking notes.
4) Go the Extra Mile
Maybe you have a demo website, and you can quickly throw in a potential client’s logo and send them a link, which gives them an idea of how their website will look before you add finishing touches.
Or you can go through one of their competitor websites. I love this strategy because everybody successful in business knows their top two or three competitors. So there’s a good chance this will get their ears perked more than telling them how you’re going to help their business get more sales. That’s the competitive juices of operating your own business.
Put together a brief case study of a successful and well-known company in their business niche.
Another idea is when you get a client, don’t send a boring monthly report. I prefer making short screencast videos, where I review the client’s Google Analytics website traffic and offer insights while explaining things in clear English. I’ll touch on two or three talking points that I’m monitoring throughout the month.
Business is about relationships ultimately, so if you do something well and it takes you five or ten minutes while giving them incredible value, go ahead and do it without billing for every single minute like a lawyer.
If you invest upfront in building a relationship by doing stuff like this, the potential rewards are that you have a customer for the rest of your life.
You don’t have to be an expert to expand your income potential with new skills. However, you need to be willing to grow with a web design client who prefers someone local they trust over a gamble with remote work.
Most people hate failure, and they give up before scratching the surface of their potential as a freelancer.
The best analogy is baseball because when you have a .300 batting average. That’s an elite hitter. But, meanwhile, they’re getting out 7 out of 10 times.
Well, sales are even more challenging than that!
Out of 100 cold emails, you might only get two or three positive responses. They come in chunks, one batch may lead to 10 people interested, and the next 100 doesn’t get a single reply.
So many people ask, “what am I doing wrong?”
The answer is likely nothing. You need to continue to test over a long period with various templates, offers, targeting, etc.
The real secret is you have to dedicate time for sales outreach on your calendar, so it becomes a regular part of your routine. It’s not easy for the average person to build a thriving business in less than 1-year, and you shouldn’t feel like a failure if progress is slower than you imagined.
Remember, if you gain clients that stick with you for multiple years, it’s worth it to go through that haystack to find the needle!