While some of you are probably seasoned professional, for beginners, pitching to clients can sometimes be a little daunting. If pitching is unfamiliar territory for you, your first attempt might not be perfect and that’s okay, after a few pitches, you’ll quickly learn what works for you and the do’s and don’t of securing contracts.
A quick disclaimer
The post is a how to guide for cold pitching however by far the most powerful way of growing a new business is to use referrals – if you’d like to learn more about how to gain and utilise referrals, check out this blog post.
Email or ‘cold’ pitching
Cold pitching is essentially emailing (or contacting through social) targeted business’ and potential clients, that you’ve had no previous contact with. Your pitches should be as clear and concise as possible, and obvious that it’s not another spam email. You shouldn’t expect everyone to reply to you – so bare in mind people will likely get lots of approaches and have a think about how you can stand out. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t receive a response, it’s totally normal
Here are 6 basic points to cover in an initial email:
Important note: If you can’t think of what to say say, consider whether you should be approaching this person yet.
Who to approach:
Attracting the right clients is key for success. At first you may have to make some initial assumptions about who you want to work with, but after working with a few of them, it’s likely that you’ll will develop a much clearer sense of the type of clients you want to target going forward. Ask yourself the following questions:
When you have all of this information, you’ll be well-positioned to figure out exactly what these clients need from you, and you’ll be able to connect with them in a way that offers immediate value.
Consider your approach:
Try to uniquely tailor your pitch in a way that will appeal to the person or business. Sending exactly the same email to everyone will be far less effective so it’s worth taking the time to adjust your pitch accordingly. Remember, there’s a person on the other side of the email, so try to be warm and friendly, while still remaining professional – this will give you the best chance of starting a conversation. It’s important that you’re honest and open about what you’re looking for and what you think you can offer. If you over promise, it can cause problems down the line.
Don’t be afraid to be clear and concise, be your own biggest supporter and outline exactly why the client should work with you. Here are some benefits you can outline to get you started:
The importance of follow up:
This may seem tedious but having a strong follow up strategy is key, as persistence shows your potential client that you’re serious about working with them. Pitching to clients can take patience, so try to stay motivated. Equally, if you haven’t had any contact after three emails, it’s probably best to move on to another client and consider coming back to them at a later date. At the very least, even if your recipient doesn’t open the emails, your name and contact details will still be on their radar.
Dealing with Rejection:
Don’t expect responses from everyone. It’s a noisy world out there and you have to accept that some people just won’t get back to you. Don’t be disheartened by this, it’s all part of it. If we had a quid for every time we’d been ignored by investors, users and businesses, we’d have bought a small island by now.
You’ll receive polite (and inevitable not so polite rejections), but just because someone doesn’t have something for you right now it doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. Remember to always keep doors open, and avoid dwelling if someone rejects you the first time.
How to choose the correct rate:
It’s natural to be nervous about getting your rate right. Too high and you may scare your client off, too low and you’re undervaluing your skills and wasting your time. So how do you know what to charge? Start by taking the following into consideration:
(limber will make sure that you don’t charge under minimum wage on hourly and day rates but be careful with your project work)
Different skills in different industries, of course, have different rates and sometimes it can be a bit of a guessing game at first. Always remember that no amount of “experience” or “it will look great in your portfolio” is worth working for free. Value-based pricing is a great way to make sure you’re getting the best value for your work. By building value with your client, they can justify their investment in you.
Also remember that it’s okay to say no and turn away. If your client hasn’t got the wriggle room to accommodate your fee it’s best to find someone that has. Being underpaid will only lead you down a path of unhappiness, under value and ‘scrappy’ work.
Alternatively there are plenty of freelance rate calculators out there, these are two of our favourites for calculating your day rate such as crunch which allows you see what other freelancers and contractors are charging and calculates your day rate. You can also see how average day rates have changed over time, and compare your region to the national average.
This is something that might not seem important but late invoices can be detrimental for cash flow if they start to pile up. Make sure you invoice early and, if it’s a long ongoing project, often. Break it down into milestones and considering asking for some cash up front. Clients won’t mind so long as you’re realistic and it’s all agreed in advance. You’re way more likely to be paid quickly if you invoice as soon as work is complete so don’t wait for admin day,
To help you out, we’ve made sure every invoice for work agreed on limber is covered under our ethical payment policy. We know it’s not fair for people to have to wait for payment. That’s why all invoices on limber are on 7 day payment terms. We only ever use payment providers with outstanding security history and payment and invoice disputes are covered by limbers dispute resolution policy.
So where shall I start?:
If you’re struggling to get going simply start by writing down every person, business and field you’d like to work with/in. From there you can then begin researching and figuring one which ones are the best fit. You can use the prompts in the ‘who to approach’ section above to help you with this list. It’s unlikely that you’ll end up contacting them all but this is a good exercise to get you thinking about your ideal clients and get you on your way to secruing work.