Getting new clients: Your sales pitch

Getting new clients: Your sales pitch

September 22, 2019 By Jeannette De Beauvoir

Okay. I could have called it a query letter. I could have called it a sample response letter. But let’s be clear about what we’re doing: we’re looking at a sales pitch. You want someone to hire you—i.e., to sell your services.

How do you do it?

I suggest that you start with something boilerplate that you can adapt to each individual prospect. When I first started out, I wrote long individual letters to each prospective client. I spent a lot of time and energy getting just the right words, just the right approach, and I finally realized that the letters that got the best responses were those that included the same core information. So why not just keep that core information, and write around it to conform to the specific client?

It’s an approach that seems to work.

Your pitch letter should follow a general format:

  1. Introduction: Where did this prospect come from? Mention that, and make it clear that you know something about their project. “Thank you for sending your proposal to (the EFA/my website/etc.) to have your (monograph/novel/dissertation/etc.) edited. I’ve worked a lot with projects such as yours and would be very happy to help.
  2. Why they need you: Here’s where you point out your view of editing. I like to mention invisible editing (“it will sound like you—only more so”) because I work mostly with fiction, but whatever your particular special asset is can be included here. What makes you stand out as the perfect editor for this project? This is not a time for modesty: let your light shine!
  3. What the project will entail: Talk about the specifics of your process. Do you provide one editing pass? Two? If you need to explain terms (proofreading, line editing, copyediting, substantive editing, etc.), this is the place to do it.
  4. Price and timeline: Be clear about both the cost and the timing for deliverables. Don’t go into more detail than is necessary, just enough for the prospect to know whether or not they can/wish to hear more from you.
  5. Conclusion: What are the next steps? I usually offer a contract at this point, but you may feel that you need more information first. Invite questions from the prospect—assure them that the choice of an editor is an important and personal one, and that you’re happy to answer any questions they may have. Wrap it up by going back to the project itself and how much you’re looking forward to taking it on/learning more about it.

In all of this, keep a positive, upbeat tone. Everyone wants to hear that someone else can get excited about their work.

In this format, I usually use—and re-use—sections two and three. They may need to be tweaked, of course; but generally they stay largely the same.

Using a partial boilerplate format allows you to respond quickly to queries, which—like it or not—can make the difference between securing a new client and missing out on one.

Header image by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

This article was originally posted on March 11, 2015.

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