Have you ever had a client fall by the wayside? Nothing tragic happened – you provided great work, developed a solid customer relationship and they seemed genuinely happy. But, over time, they just slowly stopped providing freelance opportunities.
This has happened to me a few times.
Generally, it happens with the smaller opportunities. The ones that you could live without, but are nice to have because it adds some cushion to your finances.
While it’s always sad when we lose clients, these situations are particularly disappointing. But, like many romantic relationships that fizzle out without closure, reigniting the spark with these past clients only takes a small amount of kindling. Unlike romantic relationships, they can be pleasantly revived. In fact, previous clients are a great source of potential anchor clients.
In today’s article, I’d like to take you through the tactics I use to sell services to past clients. I just used this process to land one of my largest contracts, and I’d love to share the strategy with you.
Related: Find and land quality leads
1. Identify Potential Past Clients
Break out your modern rolodex and start searching for any clients that slipped through your fingers the first time. For most freelancers, that means email. Hopefully, you archive all of your email conversations for future reference. Alternatively, if you save project files locally or on a cloud service, search through past clients folders and look for names you may have forgotten.
Open up a spreadsheet and make a list of their names, websites, contact info and social media links. Now, it’s time to start schmoozing – I mean, selling your services to past clients.
Before adding anyone to the spreadsheet, do some quick research into their business. Make sure that they’re still active and growing. If it seems like their business is dead and no activity online since you worked with them, you might be shouting against a brick wall with their business contact information. Of course, if their business seems to be alive, but dying – see if your services can help revive it.
2. Make Small Touches on Social Media
Armed with readily available social media profile links, it’s time to start interacting with them.
Don’t open up with a message pitching your services. Instead, make a series of small touches throughout their social media profiles, such as:
- Retweet their original Tweets, especially ones you know they want to be seen
- Hook them up with Instagram likes, and tag other people you follow who may like their post
- Transcend Facebook likes and leave meaningful, engaging comments
- Subscribe to their YouTube channels and leave positive comments
There’s seemingly endless other examples, but you see what I’m getting at. If you interact with their brand in a meaningful way, they’ll notice.
Be careful, don’t be too aggressive about it. If you blow up all of their profiles at once, it might be off-putting. My suggestion is to interact with one of their social media profiles once a day or two.
3. Send Out a Personal Message
When the time is right, and you have something to say, send a personal message. Send them an email or social media message.
Only turn to social media if you don’t have their email address.
Hopefully, you’ve been keeping up on their social media activity. That may give you enough of an opening for your email.
Transition into how your freelance skill can help them with a new product launch or initiative, and share how your services have expanded/worked with notable brands (if this is true). Provide concrete examples, yet don’t hard sell.
Remember – this is a personal message.
Keep it light and casual, and only mention your services if it makes sense. Nothing is more off putting than a random sales email from a former freelancer, if it’s too formal and aggressive. A casual, personal, totally playing it cool email is perfect.
You may not even wish to include an offer, but you’ll have to feel out when to offer and when to wait. If you provide enough of a reason for a response without offering anything directly, leave it out.
4. Follow Up By Delivering Immense Value
Whether or not they reply to your personal message, follow up a few days later with something of value. Exactly what you can provide will depend on your freelance skillset.
As a content marketer, I like using this tactic in a way that speaks directly to the content marketing efforts of the client.
For example, my email could offer value by providing:
- Links to articles/content that would resonate with their audience.
- 3-5 unique blog post topics that they’re free to use on their blog.
- Sharing a strategy that worked with one of my recent clients, and letting them know that it could work for them as well.
Examine your skillset and see what types of value you can add to their business for free. Don’t give away your entire skillset, of course, but provide something that illustrates your expertise.
5. Ask for a Meeting to Discuss Opportunities
Ready to pop the question?
Don’t worry, think more asking for a first date than a lifelong engagement. If they react positively, ask if they have time to talk about ways you can work together.
Regularly getting together is actually a great way to improve all of your client relationships.
Lucky for you, many modern businesses are accustomed to video conferencing. Take advantage of this for your distant clients.
If your clients are located in your area, ask them out for coffee or lunch. Or, if you’re feeling daring, invite them out for a night on the town (or save that for your second “date”).
Are You Ready to Start Selling?
Now, this isn’t a foolproof strategy.
As with any lead in your sales funnel, there’s bound to be people that don’t respond or aren’t interested. However, I’ve found that it’s much easier to re-sell to someone that’s already had a positive experience with your services.
Have you ever sold your services to past clients? If so, I’d love to hear any additional tips you’d like to share. Feel free to add your story in the comments below.
about the author
Chelsei Henderson is a content marketing consultant helping freelancers and entrepreneurs build successful companies in the digital world.