On and off the field, pitching is a real skill – in our case, it’s far more than just firing off an email saying “Hey! I want this project!”. Most of us know this, but fewer know exactly what we should include in our pitches to make them stand out.
Most importantly, you need to know the magic ingredients to make clients choose your pitch above the many others they’ll receive. If you look at the statistics on any freelance work website and see how many people pitch for a given job, it can seem very daunting.
Below, we’ll take an in-depth look at how Bidsketch can help, but before that, let’s go over a range of useful strategies to help you win more work.
1. Read the Brief
However you decide to pitch, I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to read the brief thoroughly.
What you’re looking for is not just “The client wants x by this date”, but also the nuances. If the client provides a fuller description of the project, read it. Go through every section carefully, and write notes on any key details your pitch will need to cover. Echo their turn of phrase for best effect.
Once you’ve done this, you’re nearly ready to write a skeleton pitch. Before you do, however, there’s one more action you need to take.
2. Research the Client
Your potential client needs to know that you understand not just who they are, but the issues they are facing. Remember: First and foremost, this pitch is about them and their needs, and showing how you can solve their problem.
This means you need to have a thorough look around their website, particularly their blog if they have one (to gauge their opinions), and the About Us section (to find out more about the company’s history).
You also need to make sure you’re fully conversant with their products and services, and also their competitors. If you’re really serious about winning an important contract, you could also look through magazines and forums relating to their industry to find out what the hot topics are.
3. Create a Skeleton Pitch
Before you jump in and write the full pitch, make sure you have a good structure in place covering all of the aspects you’ve researched in your preparatory investigations.
Get to the heart of the matter quickly – this is where all the preparation will come in useful, because you should by now understand exactly what the client wants, and why they want it.
This skeleton is also where you set out the basic framework of detail you will fill in when you write the full pitch. Be unique, and don’t copy past pitches to save time. Don’t include puffy descriptions of how good you are – clients are interested in you only as a problem solver.
4. Check Your Grammar
Your pitch has to be perfect, and that includes the spelling and grammar. There’s little more cringeworthy than a pitch that tells a client “your the best in your field” or, for example, uses “principal” instead of “principle”. If you don’t have a firm grasp of the basics, use an online resource such as Grammarly to make sure you’ve got it right.
It’s also worth checking with someone who’s good at proofreading, because often the mistakes that slip through are words spelled correctly – they’re just not the word you intended.
5. Set Fees and Deadlines
You should have a clear idea about your fees after assessing the brief. Whether you are making a proposal, being offered a lump sum, or per-hour contract, you need to work out as accurately as possible how long the project will take, and what your likely expenses will be.
You should also check what others in your field with similar expertise charge for projects – if you’re too far out of line, you’re unlikely to be able to pitch successfully in competition with them.
You will also have a minimum hourly rate worked out based on your living and work expenses, and the profit you need to make your target earnings. Check proposed deadlines carefully to make sure you can meet them, and be aware of any penalties the client may attach if you overrun.
6. Use Bidsketch!
The ultimate way to pitch more successfully is to use Bidsketch (of course!). It offers a choice of three customizable templates for proposals, geared to ensuring you don’t end up in the horrendous ‘race to the bottom’ price war that is such a common feature of freelance life.
The templates are a good way to ensure you include all the segments you need in a successful proposal, including a detailed fee segment, and terms and conditions – which freelancers often leave to clients, but are important to resolve.
In terms of impressing with your pitch, Bidsketch offers very handy integration with a wide range of web apps, with some really useful solutions including the popular Basecamp project management software, FreshBooks small business accounting, and online document signing software RightSignature.
One interesting possibility is to mark specific fees as optional. This is a great way to encourage upselling – into this, you can put any additional services you think the client might be tempted by.
Successful pitching also depends on being kept in the loop, so Bidsketch gives you an early idea of how interested clients are by notifying you when your client has opened the proposal, when they make comments and propose changes, and when they have approved it.
You can see how long they viewed your proposal for, and whether they exported it as a PDF – all of which gives you an idea of how and when to respond to improve your chances of success.
Pitching is a tough but vital skill for any freelancer, so it’s important to ensure you get it right. In this post, we’ve given you six steps to follow to make sure you pitch successfully for your next project:
- Read the brief thoroughly.
- Research the client.
- Prepare a skeleton pitch.
- Check your grammar and spelling
- Check your fees and make sure you can meet deadlines.
- For a professional-looking proposal, try Bidsketch.
What do you think makes the perfect pitch, and how have you improved your pitches over time? Let us know in the comments section below!
Photo credit: Wikipedia.