5 of the biggest mistakes I see when pitching clients

Who needs a big windup, let’s jump right in!

1. Making the pitch too long

Nobody has time to read an essay of a pitch. You’ve got to put yourself in your potential clients’ shoes and understand that they have an inbox filled with messages. They’ve also got Asana or Trello boards filled with messages, Slack channels blowing up with things they’re needed for … and that doesn’t even begin to touch on all the things going on in their personal lives.

So the last thing they want is to read a long drawn out email all about you.

Here’s a tip I can tell you (as a freelancer who got successful quickly by figuring out how to pitch successfully) and as someone who has hired hundreds of other freelancers in the time since. It’s going to sound a little harsh but here it is:

I don’t care about you. I only care about what you can do to help my business.

Granted, as time goes on and we begin to develop a long-term working relationship I will get to know you and care about your life but when that email first lands in my inbox I don’t.

I have problems, I’m also busy, your pitch needs to quickly help me understand how you can fix my problems. (See more about this and an example email in tip 5).

2. Making the pitch too short

I will never hire someone who gives me a quick couple of lines that tell me virtually nothing. No employer is going to get back to an email like this:

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Why? Because it just screams laziness all around.

  • I don’t know what you do
  • I don’t know what your relevant skills are
  • I have no idea what position you are interested in or qualified for
  • I don’t feel like going through your resume and looking for possible matches between what we need and what you do.

All I do know is that your interest in a job was such a low level that you wrote one sentence, attached your resume, and forwarded it off hoping that a job would magically fall in your lap. It won’t.

3. Not including the most important details right away

What should I care about when reading your pitch? I once helped to edit a book that ended up on the NY Times bestseller list. THAT catches someone’s eye. Because so many people have heard of the NY Times bestseller list.

If you and your potential client both know some of the same people, you need to name drop and name drop fast. Establish a connection.

Put the most attention-grabbing stuff up front in your pitch. Because if you don’t, the client might not even get to the later parts.

I once pitched a client (with this script) and he called me in 10 minutes!!! I didn’t even have his email address, I’d submitted the pitch through the contact for on his website. He even said to me, “Your pitch (get it here) is one of the best ones I’ve ever seen. So many people bury the important stuff way down in the bottom but you got my attention right away.”

4. Not customizing the pitch to the person on the other end

What’s wrong with this email? It’s obvious that it’s not customized. This person typed up a generic pitch, and then sent it out to a bunch of people. Only trouble is, the one to me wasn’t sent until June. They didn’t even take the time to update the body of the email — a sure sign that it’s a copy/paste email versus customized to me.

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Here’s another example …

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In this example, the person doing the pitch didn’t even bother to find out about my client’s businesses. She’s pitching us for hotel stories and a brand partnership that would encourage her followers to stay with us and we’re not even a hotel!!!

This is super inauthentic and just goes straight to the trash. While you can use a base template (like this pitch I give away for free) it should always be a base. Each detail should be customized to the client’s specific business and needs.

5. Talking about yourself too much.

Don’t talk about your background unless it’s relevant to the client’s problem and how you can solve it. I don’t include where I went to school because it doesn’t matter. But if I went to MIT and that was somehow relevant and important to the client, then I would include it.

No one cares that you’ve been looking for freelance work for awhile, or that you made the transition to freelance work after you broke up with your boyfriend and started a life over from scratch. Or that you’re thinking of moving to Sydney Australia and setting up basecamp there. It just matters what you can do for them.

The email below breaks tip 1 (making the pitch too long) as well as talking too much about yourself. This guy genuinely seems like a nice guy, but I don’t understand how he can help solve my problems. I can’t say it enough, you’ve got to focus on your clients’ businesses and how you can help them with their problems!

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Keep these 5 tips in mind when you’re drafting your next client pitch and you’ll be far ahead of the rest of the crowd. If you’re not sure how to start your pitch, sign up below and get the free pitch I used to earn over $200K. Just remember, use it as a base and customize it to your client! Happy pitching!

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