Getting emails from prospects is routine for freelancers. It means your marketing is working and people are interested in working with you. Not all prospects turn into clients, but all of them require an email exchange (at least).
How you reply to an email from a prospect often plays an important part in the reply you get. We’ve already covered what to do if you don’t get a response, now it’s time to find out how to write replies to work queries from prospects that will yield a response.
Whether you get the job or not is irrelevant at this point. Your main aim is to get them to reply to you. In my experience that’s half the battle won.
Even if they don’t hire you, you still would have learned from the exchange. You’ll walk away with a better understanding of how to deal with prospective clients, you’ll be able to figure out if you’re making any mistakes in client dealings and if there’s something more you could do next time.
First contact should be made immediately after you’ve gotten a work query. It’s important because you won’t be the only freelancer they’ve emailed. They don’t have the time to wait and they want results fast.
Send in a reply before they have a chance to consider someone else.
In most cases, it doesn’t matter how qualified you are for the job. It’s the early birds that get the worm (read job).
Set the tone for negotiations
If they’ve asked you for rates, don’t hedge. State them clearly. This is your one time shot to get the job and evading a direct query is not the way to go. So state your rates and stop panicking because there’s a way to neutralize the situation if you feel you’ve quoted too high.
Right after quoting your rates, let them know that these rates are open for negotiations. You can write something along the lines of ‘…these are my standard rates and usually vary depending on the project and amount of work.’
Let them know you’re waiting
It may not make much difference, but letting them know that you’re looking forward to their response might compel them to reply back with an answer. There are no guarantees of course.
Recommend someone else
It doesn’t always work out. The stats actually favour the nays than the ayes. We’re freelancers though and our superpower is handling rejection.
If the job doesn’t work out for whatever reason, don’t forget to recommend another freelancer. Not only is recommending someone good manners, it’s another way to surprise the client pleasantly. If you’re not getting the job, make sure they remember you.
‘Thank you’ is an extremely strong expression. Whether it works out or not, thank them for their time and consideration. It ends things on just the right note. For all you know, they just may choose you the next time.
To be frank, the entire email reply is an exercise in subtlety. Unless you’re uber successful (which you’re not) and can do without their business (which you can’t), you have to use every trick up your sleeve to get them to engage in a negotiation.
Have I missed something? How do you reply to emails from prospective clients?