Jan 312012

Originally posted by Elance_Keith on  the Elance blog

Are you looking for a more concise how-to for winning more work? Before you go off submitting another proposal, make sure to read these 8 tips on how to win more jobs on Elance:

1. Stress Unique Selling Points in Your Profile.

Many contractor profiles open with personal information, mission statements and service menus. However, chances are many clients don’t prioritize these items. What they really want to know is whether you’re qualified to solve their problem or meet their needs. They want to know what you can do for them—not your children’s names and ages. Prove that you’re qualified—more qualified than any competitor—by highlighting your expertise. Demonstrate that you’ve solved similar problems and achieved similar goals for similar clients in the past.

Stress your unique selling points—the credentials and experience that make you the best choice for the work you want. Selling points include: education, work experience, awards, success stories and testimonials from former clients and bosses. Nothing makes a prospect feel more confident about hiring you than a solid track record.

Sell any credential or achievement that reflects glory on you—graduating from a prestigious university, working for/with a Fortune 500 company, achieving something noteworthy in your field. If you wrote an article for The Washington Post, feature that prominently in your profile. If a website you designed gets hundreds of hits per minute, stress that accomplishment in your profile. If the video you produced went “viral,” mention that upfront.

In addition, take the time to fill out the Service Description and Keywords sections in detail. These two areas attract the eyes of many buyers. Lastly, study the profiles of the most successful contractors in your category for hints on what to include in your own.


2. Create an Ideal Client Profile.

Some contractors make the mistake of trying to be all things to all clients. These people spend Connects wastefully, bidding on every project for which they believe they are qualified. This “shotgun” approach to marketing is like tossing darts at a board while wearing a blindfold. You may hit the bulls-eye once in a while, but you’ll use lots of time and money to achieve mediocre award ratios.

Instead of bidding on almost any job, create an Ideal client profile. This helps you spend connects more wisely, targeting only the buyers with whom you most want to work, and who are most likely to hire you. Unless you’re new to your chosen profession, you already have a good sense of which people make the best clients. Identify the characteristics that these clients share by asking questions such as:

  • What are the demographics (age, gender, geographic location, education and income levels) of my ideal clients?
  • Which industries do these clients work in?
  • What size companies do they usually work for—small, mid-sized or large?
  • Do they work in the for-profit or non-profit sector?
  • Which markets do their organizations serve?
  • What are my clients’ core values—e.g., high value or low prices?
  • Why do you like working with these clients?
  • What kinds of jobs do they usually assign?
  • What are their typical budget ranges?
  • Which clients help you achieve your profit/revenue targets?

Once you have a clear profile of your ideal clients, you can focus attention on the prospects that are most likely to hire you. This will increase both your profitability and your reputation.

3. Write Awesome Proposals.

Making a great first impression is key. Remember, you’re selling yourself, as well as your capabilities. Posting cut-and-paste templates isn’t a good idea, and neither is simply telling prospects how great you are.

Instead of writing, “I can do this in 12 hours for less than my competition,” ask the client thoughtful, relevant questions. Outline your processes, and include a detailed timeline. Then, establish standard communication channels and frequency, and spec- out your milestones. The prospective client will know that you mean business.

While it helps to have a Portfolio bristling with great work samples, do not assume that every buyer will visit it. Attach relevant work samples to every bid. That way, busy buyers can take a peek at your best work without having to sift through your Portfolio.

Keep in mind that buyers care less about you than they do themselves—their problems and their goals. In every proposal, stress how you plan to help prospects achieve their goals and solve their problems. Don’t talk about yourself as much as you talk about the tasks at hand. Make the proposal about the client and their objectives. Once you do this, they will visit your profile to examine your skills, experience and other credentials.

For more on proposals, check out this blog post: Make Every Proposal Count.

4. Take Skill Tests.

An Elance survey revealed that 77 percent of prospective clients found Skill Tests and Verified Credentials to be important factors in their hiring decisions. That’s nearly four out of every five clients! If you’re still debating whether to take the Skill Tests, you aren’t playing the odds.



5. Join Groups. 

By joining an Elance Group, you showcase talent and professional skills that are officially recognized by a sponsoring company—e.g., Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Excel. Your Group affiliation is prominently displayed on your profile page, which helps buyers quickly identify you as the cream of the profession’s crop.

6. Act Fast.

Once you see that a job that fits your skills, prepare your proposal as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality. By responding quickly, your proposal will be one of the first that the client sees. Of course, you also have the option of submitting a “sponsored” proposal to capture a top spot, but you must still act fast. Only three sponsored proposals are allowed per listing.

7. Manage Your Reputation.

Feedback is one of the most important components of your Elance track record, according to our last survey. To build a 5-Star reputation, complete your assignments on time, treat your clients respectfully, and communicate frequently. In addition, consider bringing your existing clients to Elance to instantly build feedback and take advantage of Elance features such as Escrow and the Workroom.

8. Stay Connected.

Clients appreciate fast turnaround, and want to keep projects moving forward by answering your questions and requests for information ASAP. Therefore, staying connected to clients is critical. If you have a mobile device with email capabilities, sync up with the email account you’ve associated with Elance. Lastly, make sure you take a look at our Help article entitled How Do I Communicate with Clients Using Elance?

Now that you’ve got these 8 tips in hand, take what you’ve learned and start winning more business!