From Leads to Clients: Tips for Increasing Conversion Rates

Having enough paying clients to earn a living is a primary concern of any freelancer or independent designer. While most designers enjoy getting to know potential clients and determining how they can help, closing the deal can often be a challenge. Most designers by nature are not very interested in selling and sometimes that leads to an unorganized and passive approach with potential clients.

In this article we’ll look at some keys that need to be considered, and by implementing these things you should be able to convert a higher percentage of leads to clients. Portfolio websites are often the main source of leads, and if you are able to increase the conversion percentage of those leads your portfolio site will become a more valuable asset to you and your business.

Here are 7 things to consider if you are interested in working to improve conversions. Chances are you are already doing some of them, but see if there are others that you could implement.

1. Get More Information Upfront

Some designers choose to have contact or inquiry forms that ask for nothing more than a name and email address (and sometimes the designers email address is given instead of having a form), and others use a much more detailed form that attempts to get other significant information up front. For example, the form may ask for the specific services needed, target date of launch, budget range, additional information about the company, etc.

There are pros and cons to asking for more information in the contact form. Of course, adding too many fields and requiring too much information can reduce the number of people that are willing to complete it, but additional information will help you to have a more meaningful and productive first contact with the potential client. We made changes to our contact form about a year ago to collect more information primarily to get a better idea of the specific services needed by the client, as well as their budget range. From what we have seen, adding a few more fields hasn’t reduced the number of inquiries that we receive, but it does help us when contacting those people either by email or phone. In our case, many of the fields in the contact form are not required, so if someone really doesn’t want to fill them out they don’t have to, but most people do provide the information.

2. Include a Budget Range on Your Contact Form

One way to increase your conversion ratio is to reduce the number of inquiries you get from people who would never be willing to pay your rates. Rates for design services can vary drastically from one designer to another, and potential clients may have no idea what to expect without some type of indication on your site. If you provide budget ranges in your contact form for potential clients to select and they see that the lowest range is significantly more than they are willing and/or able to pay, they probably won’t bother contacting you.

You may prefer to get every inquiry possible regardless of the budget of the potential client. There are certainly possibilities to justify your rates and wind up landing the client anyway. However, what’s more likely is that you’ll wind up spending a lot of time in communication with potential clients that don’t pan out. It’s something that you can choose to do however you prefer, but if efficiency and increasing conversion rates are a priority, consider adding a budget range field to your contact form.


Knowing the expected budget of your potential client is also extremely useful information to have for determining what you can offer to them. The initial communication is much more productive if you have a good idea what the client is looking to spend.

3. Take Time to Get to Know the Client’s Wants and Needs

Every client is in a unique situation. Taking the time to get to know the client and find out specifically what they want from you will help you to stand out from other designers that may seem like they are offering a cookie-cutter solution. As you get to know the client you can determine how you can best help them, and you can present to them your plan for managing the project and for getting the best results possible.

In addition to understanding what the client wants, it can also be helpful to look at their situation and do your own analysis of what they may need. If you present some new ideas and opinions of your own, you can also help to separate yourself from other designers that they may be considering.

4. Be Willing to Accept Deadlines

If you talk to a lot of potential clients you may find it surprising how many wait until the last minute to contact designers. A lot of people don’t take into consideration all of the work and time that goes into the design process, and also they often don’t consider that the designer they choose may not be able to start right away. If you’re able to accept projects on short notice with a deadline that is not too far off, you can certainly increase you chances of landing the work.

Of course, this really comes down to your situation, how flexible your schedule is, and also how badly you need the work.

5. Provide a Detailed Quote or Proposal

One of the best things you can do for increasing conversions is to present a thorough and detail proposal to the potential client. Rather than simply giving them a dollar figure for the project and an estimated date of completion, take the time to break down the project. Clients can frequently feel overwhelmed with the whole situation and also with the amount of money involved. But if your proposal breaks down the project into various steps or phases and details the cost associated with each specific task, it can help the client to understand how much time really is involved, and this can go a long way towards demonstrating that your price is fair and justified. If you’re competing for the job against other designers that aren’t giving detailed proposals, you will definitely stand out as being more prepared and detail oriented.

If you’re looking to have attractive proposals that present a positive image to your potential clients, consider using a service like Bidsketch.

6. Ask for the Job!

Clients want to work with a designer that is passionate about their work and interested in the particular project of the client. Simply asking for the work and letting the client know that you are very interested in working with them can help. It sounds simple, and it is, but it’s a step that is often overlooked by designers. In many cases it seems that the desire to not be pushy or overly aggressive can be seen by a client as you just not being as interested in their project as another designer who asks for the work.

When you have presented your proposal to the potential client, make a point to let them know that you would like to work with them and ask for the job.

7. Follow Up

Many people will take some time to decide on hiring a designer. If it’s business that you are dealing with, the contact person may need signoff from someone else. If it’s a non-profit organization, they may need approval of a board or committee. Whatever the case may be, just because the potential client hasn’t accepted your proposal right away does not mean that they have chosen not to hire you.

You can increase your chances of landing the work by taking the time to follow up with the potential client. Check in to see if they have made any decisions, or to see if there is anything in the proposal that they have questions about. Simply following up will help to keep you in the picture, and it will show that you are interested in working with them. Also, you may be able to identify hangups or reasons why they have not yet chosen to move forward with you. These issues may be something that can be worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.

What’s Your Experience?

If you have any tips from your own experience please feel free to leave a comment.

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13 Responses

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  • Great article and thanks for your tips i allows remember your tips when i started conversation to my client.

  • Andy @ FirstFound, March 17, 2011

    Budget range is a good shout. People are far more likely to make an enquiry if they know how much they’ll be paying.

  • GraphicDesignBoss, March 18, 2011

    Regarding ‘ask for the job’ I think it’s never one size fits all.

    I just blogged about the fact that I was recently been in a prospective clients meeting where I sensed I should wait until it became so obvious that they asked me if it was OK for me to do the work for them!

  • Vandelay Website Design, March 18, 2011

    GraphicDesignBoss,
    There are always going to be situational differences, but in general being proactive and showing that you want the work will beat being passive.

  • WebDesignHW, March 18, 2011

    We are in the process of launching a new site and this info is very valuable, we will certainly take this on board with regards to our contact form fields. Thanks!

  • Web Design East Yorkshire, March 18, 2011

    Interesting article, very useful thanks… The budget field in a contact form is a really good point, thanks for sharing

  • Sacramento Website Design, March 19, 2011

    I like the deadlines option in 4.It is helpful to get obs but sometimes it is embarrassing if you can’t fulfill it because any of reasons.

  • Strateege Web & Branding, March 20, 2011

    I find point 5 very important. In website design & development, there are many steps to complete a project, and when each step has a small $ amount associated to it, it is much more acceptable for the client to accept the overall price. Plus it looks much more professional.

  • Maria, March 23, 2011

    I find “Take Time to Get to Know the Client’s Wants and Needs” the most important point. Business is all about fulfilling needs. If a person don’t know what he has to serve then how can he serve it.

    One should focus on customer’s budget, needs and all other things about customers. I always discuss a lot about a project before starting a project. This also helps building credibility and client thinks that you are not just to take their money away.

    Maria

  • Ann, March 25, 2011

    the seven keys are very important sy think the form is important to be brief, because as the article says many are not willing to fill out so much information, and clear follow-up is a lot of courage, patience plays an important role.

  • Asim Craft, March 28, 2011

    This is a great post and very insightful! I think the contact form being brief is beneficial because the form will not be overwhelming to potential customers, but having a launch date and budget range in the form is great for the developer/designer. My contact form is brief, but reading this post I would like to add launch date and budget range. This is my contact form http://www.digitaldesignzmedia.com/contact.html

  • waqas, June 9, 2011

    this information must help those who need to excel I find it really useful

  • David, July 22, 2011

    It’s very important to listen to what the customer wants. Sometimes we are so set on doing only specific things we are not able or willing to deviate from what we normally do and we often try to fit what someone wants into something that is not exactly what they need. What may be good for one customer may not be good for another so listening to their needs and helping them decide on the best route is what I find works best for me.

    Regards,

    David