For freelancers, client retention is an important topic, because it saves them a lot of unpaid working time that they would otherwise have to spend on customer acquisition. With these tips, you can build good long-term client relationships and build your freelance business on a more stable foundation.
Why client retention can be more important than client acquisition
Finding a new client is more difficult than convincing an existing one to work with you again. After all, the second client already knows you. If they are satisfied, they have no reason to look for an alternative. On the other hand, the new client is not yet convinced by you. They talk to other candidates besides you and may decide to go with one of them. The time you invested in making contact, the initial interview and the offer was wasted.
According to consulting firm Invesp, the probability of selling to an existing client is 60 to 70 %. With a new client, on the other hand, it's only five to 20 %.
Another advantage of working with existing customers: You know their expectations and how they work. That's how you know if you can get along with them. A new client can also turn out to be a problem customer and cost you a lot of time and nerves. You can find out how to recognize difficult customers in our article.
Of course, there are also good reasons to win new clients, for example:
- You are starting out as a freelancer
- Many existing clients have fallen away
- You want to change and prefer to work for other clients
- You want to increase your prices and your current clients are not willing to pay them.
1. Deliver good work
Pretty obvious, right? If you want to work with clients in the long run, you should convince them with quality. This is the basis - without it, all other measures are almost useless. Be reliable, deliver on time and make sure that the result is good.
Sometimes misunderstandings are the reason why a customer is not satisfied with your work. You can prevent this by insisting on clear briefings, communicating regularly with the client, and letting them approve intermediate results.
2. Be proactive
Don't wait for the client to approach you with a new assignment. They may be very busy, or they may not even be aware that they need further support in a particular area. Therefore, provide your own ideas and make recommendations based on your expertise. But be subtle and don't be too salesy. Also avoid phrases like, "Your website is completely outdated, it urgently needs an relaunch." This may annoy the client and cause them to withdraw.
Use your conversations with the customer to show interest and ask questions. That way, you'll find out early on about new plans where you might be needed. For example, if a trade fair is coming up soon, you can bring yourself into play as a designer for the promotional material.
3. Build a personal connection
Use conversations for small talk as well. For example, ask how the client's vacation was and tell them about a trip you took. This creates a personal contact that strengthens the basis of trust. If the customer likes you, they will perceive the cooperation as pleasant and will be more likely to approach you again. If you have a lot of clients, you can take notes to come back to one aspect next time.
If possible, choose video calls or phone calls and don't communicate exclusively by email. It makes the contact much more personal. However, firm agreements, briefings or approvals should always be made by e-mail to avoid confusion.
4. Share your knowledge
You're the expert. With a promising existing client, you shouldn't be stingy with your knowledge, and you shouldn't try to get a consulting job out of every little thing. Of course, you shouldn't let yourself be exploited. But in the long run, it helps you to sometimes give some information and recommendations for free. You will strengthen your position and be the first person the customer thinks of.
5. Stay in contact
Remind your clients of yourself even after you've finished a job. For example, send them a short message for their birthday or at Christmas, and react to their LinkedIn posts. You may also come across an interesting article or podcast that fits their industry. Share this with them to elegantly put yourself on his mind. Don't get pushy, though, but limit your activities to a pleasant level so as not to annoy the customer.
By the way: With the 9am Sales Form you can manage all your clients in one place. This facilitates your client retention as a freelancer, because you always have an overview.