When you run your own business you have a very simple premise to work within: make money. I know, that seems obvious to say, but sometimes it’s important to lay down the basics first. So, just keep that in mind — you want to move money from your client’s bank account into your own. Here is where friction becomes real. When you are trying your hardest to convince a potential client or customer that they should give you their money, it’s important to remove anything that might result in a “no”. In the sales world, your goal would be called ‘closing the sale’. And friction can stop that money dead in its tracks. The more distance between the money and you, the lower your chances of earning it.
So, as a freelancer looking to smoothly move money from the client to yourself in exchange for the awesome services you provide, you need to get incredibly good at removing the friction that can easily creep in. And there are two places to focus on that can dramatically decrease between you and a ‘closed sale’.
First, look at your processes. If it’s a pain in the butt for the client to get their project rolling, because you have three firms to fill out, two documents to sign and an hour of phone interviews to go through, they are going to walk away. Clients, even those who understand the complexity of what it is you do, want an experience as close to a grocery store checkout as possible. Every hurdle, every hoop and every “before we can begin” is an instance of friction.
Tighten your process. Use one form to capture everything. Make the requirements as unobtrusive as possible. Don’t require things like faxing in documents. Stop, think, and ask yourself if you would find your required steps frustrating of the tables were turned. Frustration is a sign of friction.
Second, refine your communication. Clients don’t have a lot of time, so the more concise and clear you can be, the less likely it will be that you frustrate them. I use short, simple lists to set the expectations from the start, and my clients can use them as a checklist to work from.
Setting expectations clearly from the beginning can remove doubts the client might have about working with you. If they feel you are confident, clear and professional, they are more likely to sign on.
It’s important to remember that this isn’t about deception. I’m not asking you to fool these potential clients with scripts and fancy forms. I’m simply reminding you of how easy it is for friction to creep into the way we manage new clients, and how beneficial it can be to take a step back and review our processes and communication.
Being mindful can go a long way toward being profitable. Just be sure that the money doesn’t have that far to travel.