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Why That Would-Be Client Won’t Commit to Working with You

by Laura Spencer

on April 7, 2014

in Freelancing Life Marketing

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Eventually, it seems like nearly every freelancer I know has a promising client deal that they just can’t seem to close.

Over the years, many freelancers have asked me how to get a prospect that seems promising to commit to doing business with them. “I just know they’re about to decide,” the freelancer says.

If you’ve got a potential client sitting on the fence, you’re not alone. A prospective client who won’t commit can be a source of frustration for a freelancer, especially if you happen to be experiencing a period of freelancing famine.

It’s easy to fall in love with a potential client and get attached to the idea of doing the work. However, unfortunately we don’t always get a chance to do every project we fall in love with.

In this post, I’ll discuss why some potential clients won’t commit to working with you.

3 Steps You Must Take With Every Proposal

Do you have prospects who don’t seem to be able to make up their mind about whether they want to work with you?

First of all, know that it’s normal to not get work from every proposal that you send out. It would be nice if prospects would send you a rejection email every time they decided not to use you. While rejection is no fun, at least then you’d know where they stood.

But usually that’s not the case. What really happens is that you send out a proposal, and then after a few weeks the would-be client stops answering your emails.

This is the point where many freelancers contact me to ask how they can close the deal. Sadly, if you’ve reached this point, it’s probably already too late to work with this client.

You can’t force someone to decide to work with you if they don’t want to. But there are steps you can take to help your clients reach a decision.

Here are three actions you should take with every proposal you send out:

  1. Ask for the work. Ideally, this should be part of the proposal. Adding a sentence like “I really feel that I could meet your needs on this project and I’m excited about working with you” could help them decide. Enthusiasm counts.
  2. Address any objections. Remember that the client may not vocalize their objections, so you may have to encourage them to share their concerns. Saying something like, “please let me know if you have any concerns about this proposal” helps. Be sure to deal with any issues they bring up.
  3. Follow up. A surprising number of freelancers skip this very important step. A few days after you have sent the proposal, contact the prospect again. Say something like, “I’d like to get started on XYZ project as soon as possible.” Sometimes that little nudge is all it takes.

While these three steps won’t always result in a closed deal, sometimes they will help a prospect who can’t make up their mind to commit to a project make their decision.

Should You Add an Incentive to Close the Deal?

Many freelancers ask whether they should use an incentive (usually a price cut) to close a freelancing deal.

My advice is to proceed with caution if you are considering lowering your prices. If you always use this tactic to close your freelancing deals, clients may come to expect that they will always be able to get you to work for less.

Also make sure that you can afford to discount your fees. Many freelancers lower their prices to a point beyond what they can afford.

If you do decide to lower your prices to close a deal, make sure that you clarify that this is a one-time occurrence. When you make the offer to lower your prices, put a deadline on the discounted price. Not only does this emphasize that this is not your regular price, it also creates a sense of urgency.

Here’s an example:

Dear XYZ Company,

Thanks so much for your inquiry about my web design services.

I wanted to make you aware of a year-end special that I am running. For the next 48 hours, any client who signs a project agreement and sends a 50% deposit towards the work will receive a 10% discount off the final quoted price.

In your case, that would be a savings of $350 off of the $3,500 that I quoted you if I receive your 50% deposit by midnight on Tuesday. After midnight on Tuesday, the cost savings will no longer be available and prices return to their regular rates.

I look forward to working with you soon.


Your Web Designer

Of course, the incentive tactic won’t work for every prospect.

More Real Reasons Why Some Prospects Don’t Commit

If you’ve tried everything and the prospective client still won’t commit, it’s probably not your fault.

There are many hidden reasons why promising prospective clients refuse to seal the deal. Here are just a few of them:

  • They want to string you along “just in case.
  • They aren’t really a prospect at all .
  • They were just testing the waters.
  • They’re disorganized and indecisive.
  • Something has changed and they no longer need your services.
  • They are actually your competition trying to find out what you charge.

Whatever the reason, if you’ve tried to close the deal to the best of your ability and nothing is happening, it is time to move on. Redouble your marketing efforts and soon you will have new clients who really do want to work with you.

Your Turn

Have you ever closed a deal with a hesitant prospect? How did you do it?

Share your tips and experiences in the comments.

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About Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 20 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy LauraĆ¢??s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts. Laura is also on Google+.