Have you been pitching to large brands with no luck, or looking at fellow WordPress consultants who successfully attract high paying clients, building impressive portfolios? It’s time to turn that around and start building your own impressive list. Working with big brands is attainable, but there is a pinch of science behind it. There are certain specifics that you need to be aware of, as well as minor adjustments in your portfolio and sales process. At the end of the day, it’s all about solving problems for corporations by focussing on their unique needs and finding niche channels you can leverage to generate outstanding results.
Here is a practical and actionable guide that will help you to attract high paying clients and establish a renowned consultancy that will organically bring in more clients.
The Difference Between Low Paying and High Paying Clients
Clients are not as different as you may think when working with enterprises. At the end of the day, it is always about achieving results and communicating with the decision maker on the other end of the line.
One important thing to note is that higher paying clients are often from larger organizations, and they are structured differently to small scale businesses. We’ll be focussing on how to attract these larger organizations in this article.
Understanding the organization structure:
- There are the enterprises with thousands or tens of thousands of employees, which operate in dozens of countries.
- There are companies who employ 100-500 people and provide solutions in several different areas.
- There are successful, fast-paced funded start-ups or innovative organizations comprised of smaller teams who offload certain assignments to skillful partners.
There are several things you need to keep in mind when trying to woo larger organizations and reputable brands as clients:
1. Their Reputation is at Stake
Many small business owners are unaware of the specifics of the digital world and don’t have practical experience. They couldn’t differentiate one shared hosting provider from another, let alone understand the difference between a shared host, VPS, a dedicated server, or a cloud environment. The same goes for service propositions from different vendors online. While researching the WordPress ecosystem, I found over a million WordPress freelancers and consultants (over 200,000 of them offer services on Upwork)!
Finding the right talent is challenging, and starting businesses often have no clue what a consultant (or a developer) is capable of in terms of assisting their business. Small businesses often don’t have processes to measure results, nor do they have enough budget to test several of those vendors at the same time.
At the opposite end of the scale, large business owners and top managers have a lot to lose if they hire the wrong consultant. They already lead a successful business online, employ experts in different fields, and have processes to test changes internally (and how they affect the bottom line).
They tend to be more cautious and already start with an existing solution, so every proposition comes with a discussion from the board of directors or the leading team, and is assessed against their existing web platform and digital presence.
2. Possible Opportunities Generate Higher ROI
Every business owner or company that invests in a product or a service has to compare cost against value.
Take furniture as an example. Small families who want to buy a garden table and a couple of chairs for their balcony for the summer are less likely to pay the price that a hotel chain would pay for their closed terrace near the pool that they can easily monetize. The comfort and utilization of the product are compared side-by-side to the cost, and higher-end products would likely be selected by hotels, restaurants, and other businesses who can get a return on their investment easily by providing an outstanding service for their customers.
Promising businesses that are just starting out need some time in order to generate traction. More often than not, paying a huge amount of money for a new website isn’t worth it. It would take 6-24 months before they start seeing results; and even with an incredible marketing campaign, they need an established reputation in the digital field before increasing their conversion rates.
On the other hand, successful businesses generate a solid amount of traffic and want to increase their conversions. They have already implemented the standard starter solutions, and are in need of more strategic marketing hacks that will grow their solution further.
Automating Processes is a Crucial Element of Successful BusinessesWe had a client who employed 30 content writers and editors. Their flow was complex, so we built a custom tailored editorial system that saved each of those writers 2 hours a week. That resulted in 250 hours a month savings for the business, which allowed them to produce more content, in less time, with fewer resources. This translated into incredible traffic growth with lower costs for publishing more content. A huge result!
3. Communication is Slower
While there are plenty of small business owners who disappear for months, the dedicated and committed ones work tirelessly, striving for perfection in exchange for a limited investment. It’s a smart move in order to grow further without burning cash too early.
Large organizations, however notoriously take a long time to approve feature requests or changes – even the simple ones. There are various decision makers involved over numerous departments, a board of directors, investors, or even other consultants who have to chime in and approve a change.
Big businesses take time to make or approve crucial decisions, so be prepared and take this into account. Closing a deal may take months, and approving simple adjustments may take weeks instead of a simple yes or no via phone call or email. Payments are often processed every 30-90 days, so keep that in mind while negotiating with them.
4. Standards and Procedures are in Place
Working with an established business employing hundreds or more people will come with a long list of protocols and standard process strategies for everything. It’s the only way to keep the team aligned with business requirements and ensure consistency as the business grows and new staff are hired.
Long-winded or detailed procedures may impose some challenges for you. It’s good to know what you are in for before you start. For example, they may require a specific framework to be used for their application, certain tools that they have purchased and used (instead of your own toolset), or a specifically formatted reporting template that is unified for their business.
Some of these requirements may be obstacles for delivering high results in a shorter amount of time – a time-killer for your productivity. However, this is usually paid for; you’ll just need to deal with a lot more paperwork instead of getting your hands dirty in every billable minute. Be sure to completely understand potential time limits, plus factor in time to get your head around the organization's procedures. Keep this in mind when drafting your final quote.
5. Different Coordinators Work Together
In addition to complying with business processes and dealing with multiple decision makers, it’s likely that you will need to work with other people on a given project. This could include company employees and consultants who are involved in various activities related to your work.
This is not necessarily a problem, but it’s definitely a different game than working solo (or with your team) and shipping a report (or a new version of the product) every couple of weeks. It requires more communication, aligning milestones, discussing requirements together, and making compromises due to various business specifics.
On the brighter side, you’ll likely understand the business better and improve your skills on the way. The longer you stick with a business, the more you become integrated with their processes, and the more valuable this makes you for the business. Onboarding new people may take months, and switching providers is an expensive activity that most businesses try to avoid if quality is good.
How to Attract Long-Term High Paying Clients
Landing the first couple of large consulting clients is tough, but not impossible. It gets easier later on with more impressive projects in your portfolio, but you will have to hustle for a while until you land one or two successful businesses.
Here is a brief plan that will help you connect with established brands and provide a solution that could be of use for their business endeavors:
1. Reach Out to Your Network
Talking to your friends, family, fellow students and other folks in your network is a good starting point. Many of them probably work in large organizations, consult big brands, or simply know people that they can introduce you to.
Big businesses always look for talent, since they develop different products and services for different departments and need to scale them by hiring new developers, designers, marketers, sales representatives, conversion rate optimization experts, SEO specialists etc. Onboarding new talent is a long-term process, and many of them already work with third parties who handle different areas of their portfolio for them.
Since the personal and culture fit is a priority for many successful businesses, meeting managers or other influential employees through a referral would cut down on your pitching and validation process.
2. Profile in a Given Niche
Due to their popularity, big corps get tons of requests all the time – both by people applying for a job and service providers who want a piece of the pie. It’s like comparing a community college in a small town to an Ivy League university – both provide the same type of solution, but the demand for the latter is a hundred times higher, and competition strives for success.
Being an expert in a specific field that a large company can benefit from could be your selling point when pitching. A successful track record in the industry and an understanding of the business specifics are essential for providing consulting to a given business.
For example, if you provide social media marketing services, Facebook is a great platform for fashion magazines, small coffee shops, or low-cost products sold to teenagers. It’s certainly not the right platform for offering aircraft leasing, as the decision makers in the airline industry hang out on LinkedIn and in specific industry websites. You need to know how to use LinkedIn and reach out to the right prospects in that field. Knowing that and having any relevant experience would position you higher in the list of prospective high paying clients.
3. Join a Niche Community
I know hundreds of startup owners who provide solutions in specific industries and only gather at start-up events, hanging out with other start-up owners like themselves. While building a network or a mastermind group of other entrepreneurs is important, this won’t introduce you to new prospects.
Ask yourself the following questions:
– “Where can I meet my potential large company decision maker?”
– “Who is the right point of contact for that business?”
– “Do I have the best elevator pitch when I meet them?”
You need to define the right point of contact and have a simple, yet powerful declaration of your solution that would make a difference for them. The next steps is to target the events that they attend and ensure that you can coordinate your schedule with breaks and networking sessions where you can meet them.
Think of trade shows, meetups and other conferences specifically designed for that type of customer.
4. Define a Unique Selling Proposition
Talking about your elevator pitch, you have to plan a specific package or two that would be of interest to your client.
Managing budgets at large corporations is a tedious task. The accounting department deals with a plethora of transactions on a weekly basis, and cash flow is monitored zealously by the CFO, investors, and other parties involved.
Small businesses are looking for low quotes and are willing to pay for an extra page or additional post that you provide for them. Adjusting payment details and costs in the billing department of a big business, however, could be a deal breaker.
Try to unify your service propositions in easily digestible plans that guarantee results. Combine several of your services in a specific package, and let them know what results would they get for it.
Don’t hesitate to put a multiplier on your standard cost. Remember what we’ve discussed earlier – big brands communicate a lot, require a ton of back and forth; deals take a while to close and you will need to work with various processes. It won’t be as easy as it is with a small client so that extra overhead should be accounted for. Once the deal has been made, changing costs will be extremely challenging.
Also, with the correct background research and initial return of investment estimates, your average $1,000 landing page redesign could possibly earn them $40,000 in sales over the first 6 months. As long as you connect your solution to ROI expectations, you can easily sell value, not hours.
Some business owners may still require an hourly rate, or prefer to start small in order to try you out, but coming up with educated numbers and estimates could easily save them time and money, and generate good margins for you.
5. Provide Outstanding Solutions
Quality of work is absolutely mandatory when working with high paying clients. Small businesses don’t need sloppy work either, but missing a few details on an architectural level may not be crucial, neither is a less appealing photo for a social media status.
Given the large traffic and reputability of big brands, doing extensive QA is one of the most important steps in your work. You will work with other stakeholders, and coordinate your work with them. The only way to continue a successful and profitable working relationship is by delivering outstanding results that cater for the customer needs, keep the context into account, and focus on the right user audience.
6. Estimations and Statistics
Large businesses are often obsessed with numbers. They are busy juggling dozens of projects at the same time, switching between calls, meetings and day-to-day management, and reviewing progress based on results.
Using educated estimates is incredibly important when working with them. Your proposal should be based on the industry stats published by reputable sources and based on quotes by other large business representatives.
For example, Amazon has reported $1,600,000,000 in losses if their website is slower with a single second. Their website often loads longer than many of their competitors, so it’s not like they are always squeezing the most out of it. Yet, this could be a valid pitch for selling redesign or performance optimization services. Other studies also show a 25% abandonment rate from visitors for sites loading for 4 seconds or more.
There are plenty of professional business and industry magazines or organizations that publish studies and quotes for various industries. You can gather insight about the average click rates for email campaigns, headlines for articles, or social media statuses. All of those would help you convey your proposition and outline missed opportunities for your clients.
7. Define a Communication Process
Once your big brand representative is ready to give it a shot, make sure that the deliverables are discussed in details and the communication process is cleared out. Organizations communicate in many different ways – some require meetings or weekly calls, while others prefer you to use their internal communication system.
These organizations often need a good protocol of interaction from your end – be it weekly email reports, less than 24 hour response times, or anything else that would ensure their work would be done within the agreed time frame and without any hiccups on the way. Be prepared for this and remain consistent throughout the project.
You will likely have to coordinate milestones with them anyway, so that would be important for you once you reach out for a review of your inquiry.
8. Build a Personal Connection
Many folks forget that Business-to-Business relationships revolve around personal contacts. You will be working with several decision makers and other contractors or employees who have their own agenda, priorities, or life goals.
It’s important to learn as much as possible in order to adjust your communication style for best results. Building a human connection with your various project contacts will result in several positive outcomes:
- You will learn about their business and personal goals. This would ensure that your work is tailored to the end result and will accomplish the actual targets.
- Their schedule will define their availability hours and when is the most appropriate time to connect with them.
- Their core expertise will hint you to the important aspects of your work that you shouldn’t neglect – be it technical, writing, creative, marketing or anything else.
- Ice-breaking conversations should not be tedious if you can add a personal touch to them.
- Personal connections are transferred when people switch jobs. We’ve had various managers quitting an organization, joining another company and calling us just a week later with another offer in their new gig.
Also, working in a positive environment would reduce the stress for you. It may appear that some of your contacts in the company are always grumpy, or even seem to be poisonous. Once you get to learn more about them, there may be side factors that are unrelated to their professionalism and commitment to the business.
9. Pitch an Ongoing Retainer Agreement
Large organizations and successful businesses have to deal with hundreds or even thousands of interviews every year. Once you filter through that many candidates, you quickly realize that professional workers with strong work ethics and positive attitudes, who truly care about the business are as rare as diamonds.
Pitching an ongoing retainer agreement during the initial conversation or after certain milestones have been reached may very well be approved. Starting a business relationship with a large business is complicated and time-consuming, but once you lay the foundations, deliver some positive results, study the business needs and understand the people behind the project, the heavy lifting is no longer an obstacle. It’s all about following an established sales process for enterprises before turning them into a long-term customer of yours.
Retainers will be valuable for both you and your client – and you will gladly enjoy working with a successful company in the long run, earning a considerable consulting fee and iterating on your metrics with less monitoring from the management.
The Final Outcome
If securing high paying clients in big businesses is your ultimate goal, then landing your first few ‘big fish’ will add credibility to your portfolio and certainly boost your confidence. Delivering services for small businesses is one thing, but being able to keep up with the changing progress of a successful organization and increasing its exposure will strengthen your authority and influence in your chosen niche.Your increased experience and knowledge in this area will assist in generating high-quality leads, higher revenue, and business expansion. While the initial hassle of working with larger clients can sometimes be stressful and time-consuming, hang in there because the long term benefits will be the defining point of your business success.
If you’ve had success landing big clients, we’d love to know how you did it. Did you follow some of the strategies I mentioned in this article, or do you have a few tips of your own you can share?