Being uncertain about what your clients are expecting you to deliver is one of the most unsettling feelings you can experience as a freelancer.
Take it from me, I’m around the corner from completing my 500th freelance project on fiverr. And for me personally, when I’m knee deep in a project and I start getting the feeling that I'm winging it based on what I think my clients want me to do, the cold sweats start kicking in.
Feeling like you might not be aligned on what your buyer wants is stressful. For me, it’s stressful because it gives me anxiety about the possibility that my client is going to request a revision. You see I do most of my work through fiverr.com and a revision means my buyer is requesting changes before marking the order as completed and my money is released to me.
I don’t like revisions. Revisions mean more work for the same money. Revisions mean I might not get a stellar rating from my client. Revisions mean I probably didn’t ask enough questions.
The situation I’m describing, feeling like you and the client aren’t aligned, feeling that you’re winging it, and feeling like a revision is imminent—is usually a result of one thing. That thing is not spending enough time doing discovery with your client before they’re hiring you or placing an order. You probably didn’t ask them enough questions before allowing them to hire you.
I get it. A lot of us freelancers get excited when a new potential client shows interest in hiring us. Of course we do! Every new client means more money in our pocket and for many of us we’re always on the hunt to bring in more revenue.
Sometimes this excitement results in us rushing through one of the most important parts of signing a new client. Sales discovery. I mentioned it earlier, and it’s the focus of this blog post. Discovery is arguably one of the most important steps in signing any new freelance client and I’m going to explain why.
What is Sales Discovery?
Sales discovery is something you do before you commit to working with a client. Discovery gives you the opportunity to learn key information about your client and what they want from you. During discovery you’ll ask qualification questions that will help you determine what your client wants, what they expect of you, and whether or not you are a good fit to work with each other.
Discovery happens before they hire you, and in some cases before you allow them to hire you. Allowing your buyer to hire you—that’s probably a new one for a lot of you. I know for a fact this is a new concept for a lot of sellers because I get questions about this every day. If the idea of turning down a client sounds absurd to you, write this next part down.
As freelancers it’s our job to qualify our buyers, and in doing so we’re protecting ourselves while also setting ourselves up for success.
How Discovery Helps Everyone
During discovery it’s important that freelancers are looking for any possible reason that we might not be able to complete the project. This helps us freelancers by ensuring we are only taking on projects where we know we can provide value, we know we are a good fit, and we know our client will probably be happy with the end result.
If you discover that there might be a red flag with either the client, what they’re asking of you, or anything else, it’s a good idea to point it out. This gives you an opportunity to turn down a project that might turn into a nightmare for you or your client.
Discovery is also a prime opportunity to collect information you might need to deliver a top notch project. Ask as many questions as you want, this is the time to do it. You want to make sure you are leaving no stone unturned. Doing this will not only ensure you are prepared for the project, and can avoid those cold sweats I mentioned earlier, but it will give you an opportunity to upsell more services if you uncover new needs with your client through asking questions.
Lastly, discovery allows you to educate buyers who might be considering hiring you without fully understanding the scope of your expertise. This is especially important when freelancing on sites like fiverr.com or upwork. On those sites cancelled orders are tracked, and can negatively impact your account statistics. Sometimes buyers that place an order without understanding yoru services cancel orders, so proper discovery can help you save some of that headache and avoid having a bad fit buyer hiring you in the first place.
Freelancers Need to Ask More Questions
It’s not rocket science, asking questions is the most helpful thing you can do for both yourself and your freelance clients. Run discovery before taking on new projects, and when you think you’ve asked enough questions ask one more. You can never have enough information on hand to complete a freelance project. Also, don’t be afraid to turn down new business if you get some answers that don’t sit well with you or indicate that this might not be the best working relationship—it will save you headaches in the long run.
Hope this was helpful! Happy selling!
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