If you’re ready to grow your business and increase profits, there are a few ways you can go about it, no matter what type of creative business you’re in. The first strategy that probably comes to mind is to find more clients—it’s the natural next step, right? Then maybe you have the idea to find higher-paying clients. Even better, right?! But there’s a less obvious, easier way to start increasing your revenue streams that often gets over-looked: the upsell to current clients.
Upselling current clients has quite a few advantages over focusing on new business. First, we’ll dive into some of the pros and then talk about how you can get started by packaging up your services. Let’s dive in!
The advantages of upselling current clients
New clients are great, but there’s one major problem with relying on them to grow your business: you only have 24 hours in a day, seven days a week. Eventually, you’re going to reach a point where you literally can’t take on any more work—and then your cash flow plateaus. Plus, unless you’ve already got a highly-established brand and have clients knocking on your door left and right, sometimes it’s just plain hard to book new work. Dry spells are real, and they make relying on new clients for new income incredibly difficult (and stressful).
That’s why upselling current clients is such a smart trick that is all too often overlooked. Instead of focusing on finding new work, booking the deal, onboarding the client, completing the project, and then finally getting paid, you get to skip the stressful upfront work and jump straight into negotiating with someone who already loves your services. It’s much easier to convince a current client to pay you just a little bit more than it is to convince someone brand new to trust your services.
Another benefit of packaging your services to upsell clients is that you can start to generate some recurring revenue—the golden ticket to a reliable business model. Selling packages with recurring tasks allows you to charge a client monthly, meaning you can count on some cash coming in each month instead of hoping for a new client to come along.
Pretty great, right? Now, let’s talk about how to get started!
How to package your services
They key to packaging your services is all about how you price your work. I’m sure you’re familiar with the hourly rate versus flat rate dilemma. Hourly rates allow you some flexibility, but there’s no real incentive for completing good work quickly. (And the line between billable work and non-billable work gets super slippery super quickly.)
A flat rate, on the other hand, allows you to charge a higher price easier (by “hiding” your hourly rate) and encourages faster work (because the faster you complete a project, the higher that secret hourly rate becomes). To package up your services, you’ll want to stick to a flat rate—a set price tag for a bundle of services that you offer. So how do you know what to include in the package?
Whether you’re a freelance web designer or social media specialist, there’s probably a certain set of tasks that you complete for every client you take on. Sure, some might need less and some might need more, but especially if you’ve been in the business a while, I bet you’ve discovered a few similarities. Instead of offering an a la carte pricing system, bundle up the work you do into packages—it’s the easiest way to upsell your clients on additional services since they’re already built into the price.
For example, let’s say you’re a web developer building sites for clients. The easiest upsell is a maintenance plan, and you could even offer different levels, depending on how hands-on the client wants you to be. You could tier your services something like this:
- Theme and plugin updates (within a month of release)
- Email support
- Theme and plugin updates (within two weeks of release)
- Email support
- 2 site changes per months
- Theme and plugin updates (within a week of release)
- Email and phone support
- 10 site changes per month
- Monthly WordPress lessons
See how each level builds on the previous package? That’s why it’s easy to talk clients into paying up—the value is laid out front and center. And it may seem silly, but paying $50 is a lot easier to swallow than $30, plus a $20 extra fee. By bundling the services, there’s no need to “pay extra” for a service, since it’s already included in the price.
And remember: You can always tailor your packages to a specific client. This method simply makes it easier to encourage clients to pay for more while not actually locking you (the freelancer) into any set pricing.
Not only will packaging your services help you earn more money from existing clients, but it’ll also help you save a lot of time when booking new deals. (Bonus!) Sure, some clients will still request custom quotes, but others will take the packages for what they are. This means less time spent negotiating and more time doing client work, which also means faster turnaround times and more money for you!
How do you currently upsell clients? What’s worked for you in the past? Share your best tips for growing your business in the comments below!