Creating client funnels and pipelines

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For the last year, I’ve been leading monthly classes for independent workers and professionals in the Seattle area. I decided to start recapping the events, so come back every month to hear what we’ve been doing for Freelancer’s Union Spark: Seattle edition!

Freelancer’s Union is a nonprofit based out of NYC that provides insurance and educational resources for freelance and independent workers around the country. You can keep up to date on the most current topics and cities provided by Spark here: freelancersunion.org/spark.

This month we had a dynamic group of 10 Sparksters to break down and discuss building client funnels and pipelines.

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State of the Union

Our discussion started with two questions, What is a funnel and What is a pipeline?

What is a funnel? A funnel is where you find your clients. I also call this the “prospecting phase”. At this stage of your pipeline you are seeking to qualify leads and prospects as thoroughly as possible before your first in depth meeting or consultation. There are a lot of ways to qualify a lead, from internet research (find their LinkedIn/Facebook/website) to a first time contact questionnaire. Qualifying a potential client is one way to identify if they are the right client for you! This is also a great time to start your CRM (customer relations management) process and begin collecting qualifying information.

Pro tip: I believe in building a small network of competitor allies. A competitor ally is someone you can trust to deliver the caliber of work your clients expect of you, when Murphy’s Law kicks you in the butt.  This helps ensure that your reputation remains intact for a good referral, and also earns you a coveted favor from one of your competitors. Ultimately this fosters a stronger business community in your network!

What is a pipeline? A pipeline is what you do with your prospects once you have them! Using a CRM system helps ensure you are on track with managing your client as they travel through your pipeline. My pipeline follows a pretty simple process. After qualifying my leads, I get them into a consultation where I can further qualify them and demonstrate my value. Next I submit my quote or estimate based upon the information they have given me, after which I make it official and get an agreement or contract drafted and signed. Next I take them through my client workflow of planning and executing their project. Once I’ve delivered the project, I close it out and finish the sale.

Pro tip: FOLLOW UP! After a little simmer time, I always follow up with my client to thank them for working with me. This is an excellent time to collect a few kind words to post on your website, and establishes a great rapport which can lead to repeat business or a referral!

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Funnels and Pipelines
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Sparksters working hard, late at night.

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