How to Overcome Fear of Pitching Large Client Projects?

 wrote this 10 months ago in Freelancer News
Hi Rob! I recently started the Endless Clients program and loving it more as I complete each module. I also signed up for the Referral Newsletter  and seen really great leads in there.

However, I have some reluctance in applying to  most of them.

Although I have been freelancing for the past 5 years, most of my clients are local. I only recently started working with international clients.

The highest bid I have done for website design and won was $2,000. Many of the clients in the Referral Newsletter have budgets of upwards of $30-50k and that is scary for me.

Why would someone choose me over an established agency?

Although I am confident of the work I do, I have concerns about pitching and client interviews.

So I have 3 questions:
  1. Have you ever faced this issue? If yes, any tips to overcome this issue?
  2. I know you shared Jonathan Stark's website proposal as a template – do you have any others? Many of the referrals you send need detailed RFPs with team size, experience and so on. A few RFPs which you / other people have used and won the project would be helpful for inspiration.
  3. I'm a full-stack designer. Meaning I have enough knowledge and skill to design, develop and support most issues related to Wordpress. Should I position myself as an agency to have a higher chance of success?
Would love to hear your take on this.

Comments

Hi Rajiv!

Glad you're getting value from the course. Super common concerns you've raised as well. Hopefully I can point you in the right direction with some resources:
  • On the topic of overcoming your reluctance to pitch large projects, I think a lot of the concepts outlined in this post apply. Try some of these exercises (as well as the ones included in the later Endless Clients modules, like How to Sell to More Great Clients Even if You Hate Marketing.) Report back with your results and any questions you have as you go through it. I'd love to hear about how it goes.
  • One of my favorite resources for proposal templates is still Bidsketch. They have a great selection of templates on a wide range of services, including big budget website design.

    What I love about their templates in particular is that they take a sales-first approach. The structure is very much inline with the Pain →  Dream → Fix sales technique we outline in Endless Clients.

    I also have some additional templates I've collected here.
  • You don't necessarily have to position yourself as an agency to increase your chances of landing big projects.  This is a common question I get but one that I think can be an indicator of thinking about the client sales process in the wrong terms.

    While some clients definitely prefer working with an agency or team over a freelancer (and vice-versa) it doesn't work exactly how you might think.

    Client's don't want to "hire an agency" they want a problem solved. 

    They want to feel confident that you can handle the project. Depending on their problem, sometimes this means having a team (or a network of sub-contractors you can reach out to on-demand) other times it means simply improving your communication skills and onboarding processes during the sales experience. 

    This comes from experience. The only way to improve is to test. See what works and iterate. Unfortunately, to do that you may have to get outside of your comfort zone.

    I wouldn't recommend putting on a fake agency hat. That can make your sales conversations feel phony. It can make you less confident. Clients can smell that. 

    You can, however, present yourself as a professional legitimate company. Because that's exactly what you are. Even though you're a self-employed freelancer, you own and run a company. Always act this way. You're paying taxes after all. 😁
So all in all, you've got some work cut out for you, but the fact that you're asking these questions is a good sign. 

Happy to elaborate in any areas that didn't make sense. 

Does that help?
Happy to throw in my 2Cs. I’m sure @Rob might have a more in depth response or covers this in his course. 

Short answer: positioning and messaging

Long answer: it's important to always shift the conversations around the value you deliver.
  • What results have you shipped to your clients? 
    Talk in numbers and how you’re going to measure the value you deliver. In terms of consultants vs. full-service agencies, try to work on your unique value proposition. 
  • What makes you different than most freelancers & agencies? 
    e.g. I’m laser-focused on a vertical (B2B SaaS) with a clear understanding and specification of my ideal customer profile (industry knowledge). I offer 30 days money back guarantee, they work directly with me (no junior staff), etc. Position yourself as the go-to person for X. 
  • What would you like to be known for?
Although it definitely helps to have a technical skillset as a designer, I’d not focus too much on this aspect. These are generally skills that are less values by clients (commodity) and often not paid premium prices for.
 
My messaging definitely evolved over the years. I started as a generalist working with all kinds of clients doing all kinds of web related design work. You guessed it… didn’t work out well. I shifted to bootstrapped SaaS clients, but realized soon the value I could bring to the table didn’t align with the incentives.

I looked at all the work I’ve done in the past and started identifying my favorite clients and the type of work I enjoyed the most. From there I niched down to where I’m now.

Took me a couple years, that’s why courses like Rob’s are super valuable to get there sooner.
I really liked the book: Getting Naked from 2011. 

I had already been doing this for 6-7 years by the time I read this and it worked really well for me, having gone the same path (start-ups in the $5-40k range) moving into larger, 6 figure projects.

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