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Reconnect with old clients and nurture new leads with the client tracker (and how to win one!)

by Rachel Smith
19 October 2018

Many years ago at the start of my freelance career, I scored some freelance work as a copywriter at Nestle. I wrote of back-of-pack copy for muesli bars and different types of breakfast cereal. It was a fun gig. I liked the client and she liked me … and then, she moved into another role. We lost touch. I moved onto to other work. C’est la vie.

I’ve been kicking myself ever since.

She was one of a few great clients that have dropped off my radar – or I’ve dropped off theirs. It’s easy to do. People move jobs. You have kids and take time out (or they do). You might switch from an in-house role to the freelance life or vice versa. Suddenly you realise, a few years have gone by and you haven’t done anything for that client in a while. You think, ‘Oh well. I’ll just focus on getting new clients in the door’.

Which is necessary for everyone in the freelance trenches – don’t get me wrong. But it’s much easier to reconnect with someone who knows you and your work.

That’s the inspiration behind our latest resource in the Toolkit – the client tracker.

client tracker graphs rachel's listIt helps you… reconnect with old clients

The client tracker is a two-part system with the cool interactive dashboards we love (at RL, many of you will know we are partial to a nerdy graph or two). The the pink tab is all about reconnecting with past clients. You’ll have to do some research to find those people – going through your old emails or your old work, searching on LinkedIn or Google for contact details.

Then, you log each contact into your ‘reconnect’ tab with info about why you dropped out of touch, the last story or project you worked on with them and the ‘status’ of your relationship currently. If you’re ‘on speed dial’ with clients, happy days. But if that client ‘needs some love’ you can add in some notes and when to follow up. The idea is to move clients through the process on the spreadsheet until you have a heap of clients on ‘speed dial’ (and loads of work coming in). You just need to devote a few minutes a week to it.

It helps you…  nurture new leads rachel's list client tracker tool with graphs nurture new leads

Learning to nurture new leads is what the green tab is all about. If you read our post about finding work on social media, you’ll know leads can come from anywhere. A small business owner putting a call-out for copywriters in a private Facebook group. An editor popping up on Twitter asking for specific pitches. A freelancer you know has referred you for work he or she can’t do.

What do you do with all those requests? Do you scribble them down on a piece of scrap paper, vowing to get to them later? Dutifully jot them down in your bullet journal as people to contact? Add them to a Word document of potential new leads? Or so often, like many of us with limited time, let the opportunity slide on by? That’s where the client tracker’s leads tab comes in. You pop the lead into the tracker as soon as it crosses your path and, similar to the ‘reconnect’ tab, you move each lead through the process until they’re a client. There’s even a cool graph to log where you found the lead (on social media, cold calling, through referral) to help you see where most of your leads come from, so you can perhaps focus your efforts in that area.

To celebrate the launch of the client tracker we’re giving 3 away – all you have to do to enter the draw is comment below about what you struggle with most when it comes to keeping clients on the boil!

UPDATE: We’ve just drawn the winners using Random.org which threw up comment 2, 6 and 7. Congrats to Phoebe Tully, Claire Harris and Claire McGregor – the client tracker is on its way to your inbox now. Thanks to everyone who entered and sorry if you missed out this time!

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Rachel Smith

As a kid, Rachel used to carry around a little suitcase of pens and paper so she could stop and write stories whenever inspiration struck. These days, she writes for a living, in between running the show at Rachel's List. Some of you may actually believe she looks like a megaphone in real life, but it's not the case. Honest.
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9 responses on "Reconnect with old clients and nurture new leads with the client tracker (and how to win one!)"

  1. Claire says:

    Remembering to check in with past clients! We can get so consumed with the BEING busy and the customer service factor really needs to kick in. After all, unless you’ve burnt bridges with past clients these guys have the potential to be our ‘business champions’.

  2. Phoebe says:

    My biggest struggle is helping clients to understand that marketing is a constant process, not a short-term fix. So writing three blog posts for your new website is not the end of the road. I need to work on communicating this better – and following up old leads!

  3. Kelly says:

    My biggest challenge when it comes to keeping in touch with old clients and contacts is knowing what to say. I’m super introverted so struggle to think of a way to meaningfully connect without wasting their time or trying to ‘sell’ to them. It’s just something I have to practice.

  4. Fran Lee says:

    Being too conservative or shy in approaching previous clients – sometimes we spend a lot of time and effort looking for new clients when we should nurture our relationships with clients we’ve already worked with! Every client is another potential…

  5. If this new Rachel’s List freelancers’ hack’s the trick to flick me from ‘Slack Tracker’ to ‘Slick Networking Chick’- totes hope I’m picked!

  6. How to ascertain what’s on their minds now – what questions to ask / research to do so I can offer value to get them interested.

  7. When I think of clients I should reconnect with, I write myself notes in my diary, eg, be in touch with x, and it totally doesn’t work because the following week I’m not looking back at the diary from the week before. I need a better system!

  8. Lisa Smyth says:

    I get nervous that I am being ‘too pushy’ with past clients if I have pitched them a few times and they have said no. I always imagine editors saying ‘god leave me alone’! Which is probably not the case if they keep responding.

  9. Michelle says:

    When I started freelancing I tried to make my own very organised spreadsheet on my clients, their rates, contact numbers, how often I work for them etc etc. It all sounded good at the start, but two years on I don’t think I’ve added to that original file – instead client details are lost on a thousand emails, scribbles in notepads and post it notes. If only I had one really useful place to store them all 😉
    I also struggle with knowing what to say when I reconnect with clients, apart from the old ‘is there anything I can help you with right now?’

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