When approached by a future client, one of the first questions they’ll ask is how much you’re going to charge them to complete a project. Of course, generating an estimate off the top of your head is easier said than done. Even harder, turning your estimate into a sale. Unlike selling products, the price that you charge can vary from client-to-client, as well as project-to-project.
The thing is, even if you send them a quote, that quote may not be enough to convince them to hire you. What if they receive multiple estimates that are all around the same price? You need to look for ways that will separate you from the pack.
You can turn your estimate into a sale with the following 7 techniques.
1. Create a timeline for when the job will be completed.
Besides how much a project is going to cost, this is probably the most important factor that will convert an estimate into a sale. Clients want to be 100% certain that you’re going to make them a priority by delivering the final project to them on-time
Before submitting a timeline, review your current workload and take into consideration all the hours that it will take to complete the project so that you can send your prospective clients a realistic timeline. If you believe that you can handle the workload, then your proposed timeline should include specific dates and the steps that will take place on those dates.
You can then use this timeline as a part of your agreement and payment terms. Most importantly, a timeline will keep both you and the client on the same page after you turn your estimate into a sale. This helps to prevent any confusion or miscommunication during the course of the project.
2. Calculate the budget.
When calculating a budget consider factors like the cost of labor, such as how many hours it will take you, your team, or independent contractors to complete, and all of the expenses involved like material and equipment. This should give you a more detailed estimate to send the client.
Stuck? You can always look at what previous projects cost a client or how much your competitors are charging so that you can get a ballpark figure. Remember, even though you want to be competitive, if your budget is extremely cheap the client may not take you seriously. Also, you have to make sure that the quote covers your actual costs in materials and labor.
3. Include recent projects and testimonials.
Your leads want to know that you’re the real deal who is capable of handling the project. Send them recent samples of your previous work – even if it’s just a link to your online portfolio. You should also send written testimonials from similar types of clients. For example, if you’re a freelance graphic designer, then you would share the most recent designs you completed, along with testimonials from those clients that describe everything from your work ethic to how satisfied they were with your completed designs.
This may sound simple, but it’s a proven tactic for freelancers looking to close a deal.
4. Integrate sales and marketing messages.
Since quotes are another part of the sales process they should also integrate your sales and marketing messages. This will show the client how valuable you and your services will be to them. It also differentiates from your competitors. In other words, your estimates should always include a couple of persuasive sentences. These give your clients a reason to hire you and not someone else.
For instance, as a freelancer, you should pride yourself on working directly with your clients and getting to them personally. Unlike larger firms, your client should know that if they have a question or concern they’re going to be able to talk to you directly, instead of getting bounced around from department to department.
5. Use CRM.
Customer Relationship Management software should be a part of every small business owners arsenal. As Renzo Costarella explains in a previous Due post, “Without a proper CRM solution in place, small businesses often lose touch with their customer base. Not only will a CRM solution assist your business in acquiring and managing new customers it’ll also increase your retention rate.”
A CRM solutions like Salesforce are affordable and allow you to record the likes, dislikes, spending patterns, location, interests, and needs of your prospect’s so that you can modify quotes. Additionally, a CRM software lets you easily manage all the customer contact details. This includes quotes, invoices, orders, inventory, and any sales and marketing activities.
6. Offer a guarantee.
When you include a guarantee, such as a 30-day money back guarantee, on your estimate you’re demonstrating to your clients and customers that you stand behind the products or services that you’re selling. Sound simply, but this will drastically reduce any buyer’s risk.
7. Create customized quotes and estimates.
Take the time to actually get to know your clients. Know what their wants and needs are, along with what motivates them to become paying customers. This will allow you to to create customized quotes and estimates that will influence their decision. Many clients are motivated by steep discounts. Others clients by a guarantee or pinpointing a solution to their problem. Some want proof of insurance, state licenses, and work samples. Find what motivates your clients.
Remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all template when creating an estimate. Knowing what will convince a client to hire you will increase the odds of converting them from a prospective client to a paying client.