Add Value, Not Dollars, to Build Your Business

Georgina Laidlaw
Georgina Laidlaw

Do you help clients to capitalize on the work you do for them by adding value wherever you can?

By “adding value,” I’m not talking about upselling. I’m talking about showing the client how they can get more out of your product, without necessarily buying more of your time.

Beyond doing great work on time and on budget, a great freelancer will do everything they can to help the client get the greatest possible value out of their product.

Obviously the opportunities for this kind of reuse will vary from job to job, and depend on what you do, but in many cases, you’ll find them if you look closely enough.

If you believe in what you do, and the potential your product has within the client’s operations, the client will respect your passion, and they’ll remember it — even if they don’t end up taking your suggestions on board.

Next time you’re presenting a client with an idea for expanding the application or reach of your product, try these persuasive techniques. (Of course, they work equally well for up-selling and on-selling as well…)

1. Draw on your knowledge of the client’s operations

The things you know about your client’s business or operations can give you the insight to see how your product could be tweaked, shaped, or positioned to meet multiple goals simultaneously.

2. Draw on your knowledge of the client

If you know your client, you’ll know what they see as valuable — and not just in a work sense.

For example, one of my clients is really into social responsibility, so on the last project we completed I recommended a few ideas for repurposing aspects of my product that we could give away as freebies. It’s a simple thing, but it spoke to my client’s altruistic side — they saw significant extra value in implementing these ideas.

3. Show how easy it will be

If you’re adding value, not pitching for additional work, don’t neglect to tell the client how easy implementing your value-add ideas will be.

Do give a firm estimate of the time you think the extras will take if it’s worth quoting for (some will take minimal additional time) and you feel you can. If you can’t, or you feel the client may blow out a time estimate (which can happen with new clients with whom you haven’t established a clear working relationship), say you’ll give them a written estimate and scope for the extras.

The worst possible outcome would be for you to surprise your client with an unexpected bill for the “extra”, “value-add” work you said would be easy!

4. Get creative, but not crazy

We’re not just coming up with wild ideas here. We’re perceiving untapped opportunities for our existing project work, and pointing them out to clients.

Extending the value of your work for clients isn’t about casting around for new projects: it’s about looking for opportunities that make sense, and will deliver significant extra value for minimal work.

5. Give them a taste

Usually, wherever I can, I provide the client with a prototype of the add-on I’m suggesting. I find that saying “I think we should do something like this,” while handing over an example in a one-on-one conversation works much better than either waffly descriptions or even big-deal presentations (which often signal “bigger bill” to clients).

It’s much easier for clients to agree to something if they know precisely what it will look like.

Do you make a habit of looking for ways to extend the value (but not necessarily the budgets) of the projects you complete for clients? Tell us how you do it in the comments.

Image courtesy stock.xchng user danzo08.