How Freelancers Can Close Big Enterprise Deals

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In freelance sales, a big question is how to find enterprise clients. The ones with big budgets, clear expectations, and long-term projects. While big businesses are talking about hiring more freelancers, there’s often a disconnect between what a large corporation needs and what a freelancer presents. That’s where Shahar Erez comes in. As the CEO of Stoke Talent, Shahar helps large corporations hire freelancers and other independent contractors. In an interview with PulseBlueprint, Shahar shared his views on what freelancers need in order to build thriving relationships with large enterprises.  

What non-job related skills or outcomes do large corporates expect of freelancers?

There are a few considerations freelancers should keep in mind when working with corporates for long-term success.  

  • Specialization. Freelancers need to figure out what they’re good at, or what they’re passionate about, and become an expert in it. Once they’ve developed an area of expertise, they need to learn how to communicate the value that they can bring in a clear and concise way.
  • Playing according to the rules. Corporates have a long list of dos and don’ts. Freelancers need to accept it as a fact and find a way to be creative within the rules of the game, or otherwise risk the relationship.
  • Ability to accept criticism. Freelancers working with corporates will receive feedback, sometimes even contradicting. It’s important that freelancers learn not to take it personally and instead find a way to incorporate it into their work style to be better than they were before.
  • Network. Contract workers who know how to manage their network and connect with the right people and resources will be able to find work easily and make great connections to help with their career now and in the future.

In addition to the above, having a variety of soft and hard skills such as flexibility, transparency, and the ability to communicate clearly and effectively are the types of assets corporates look for and value the most from freelancers. When freelancers possess these skills, it may ultimately lead to organizations wanting to continue the work relationship with them in the long-term because of a positive experience. 

Do corporates prefer working with individual freelancers or prefer when a freelancer comes with their own team for any additional needs?

This really depends on the expertise of the freelancer and the project at hand. For example, if you are a freelance designer targeting to get End-to-End responsibility for large projects, then coming in with a team of web developers, UI/UX designers etc. can be a huge asset and advantage for you and the company. However, if you are a designer with a specific expertise, then it’s more favorable that you will be able to support an existing team within the corporation. 

Do large corporates prefer when freelancers come with their own systems and tools, or do they expect freelancers to merge into their ways of work?

Corporates generally prefer that freelancers have their own systems in place but that they can also balance and merge into the company’s processes. Flexibility is the name of the game.

It’s important that both the freelancer and the company are aligned and follow the same processes, but it’s also very beneficial when freelancers implement their own knowledge of different tools and ways of doing work – this adds even more value to the companies that they are working for. 

Freelancers should periodically check the job requirements in the descriptions of the roles at larger corporations they are interested in landing. This will give them a better idea of the tools they would be working with and which ones they would need to learn to be better qualified for open positions.

What do corporate freelance leaders (i.e. the people who hire freelancers) wish freelancers knew about them and their needs?

There are a few key elements that companies always wish freelancers knew about what they are looking for when bringing them on. 

  • A unique area of expertise or specialization is an asset. As more people enter the freelance economy, competition for corporate freelance jobs is getting fierce. In order for freelancers to stand out, they need to become an expert in something and then be able to communicate the value that their expertise can bring to the job and the company. 
  • Freelancers should set realistic expectations; Delivering your work on time is paramount to building trust — don’t get yourself into a situation where you can’t follow through on your promises. Build in extra time where you can, and be upfront about what is needed. If you’re clear and direct, companies will understand and respect this, whereas lateness could impact project timelines and affect others outside of the team you’re working with on a project.
  • There’s no room for risk in corporate hiring. A freelancer’s portfolio is the most important part of their CV. If a freelancer wants to work with a corporation, they need to build a strong portfolio with other corporates. It’s all about the network of relationships, and each job will help lead to the next.

Where does a freelancer need to go to find enterprise freelance opportunities?

Virtually all research shows that the most popular way for freelancers to get great jobs is through references or word of mouth, rather than through job platforms. 

While it’s important for freelancers to build their public profiles on these platforms, it is even more critical for them to provide great value and experiences to those they work with; the more they provide value and a positive experience, the more references and recommendations they will get. It’s also common for companies to work with freelancers they like again and again, so a successful first project can prove to be lucrative for freelancers by leading to a longer term partnership.

Do corporates care more about price or outcome? 

There are two key reasons that corporates hire freelancers and contract workers: the first is so they can have extra hands on deck and be able to accomplish projects in a more efficient manner, and the second is to find talent with skills that are difficult to find elsewhere – like those in AI and machine learning, IT, and other areas.  

When companies see the value of the work freelancers are bringing in, that puts a price tag on itself and means more to the employer than what it cost to hire them.

When deciding on rates, freelancers should think of their value and what they bring to the table. It may be tempting to cut your prices because that’s what others are doing, but as a freelancer, you should know your worth and push for what you deserve.  Also, freelancers’ rates — unless very far off from the average — won’t be a major concern for most big companies if that freelancer has proven value and great outcomes. It’s all about the work freelancers are bringing to the table.

What things should a freelancer make sure to highlight in a pitch or sales call?

Companies like to see freelancers and contractors with a relevant portfolio. For example, enterprises want to work with freelancers who have worked with other enterprises and hyper growth startups want to work with freelancers who have freelanced for other hyper growth startups. 

By freelancers showcasing that they have previously worked in the same industry, and in a similar work environment, the company may be more willing to contract that person since they know that he or she will be reliable, knows what they are doing, and that the adjustment would be very minimal since they were previously in a similar experience.

What’s the biggest mistake you see freelancers making in the corporate pitch process and how can they avoid / correct it? 

The biggest mistake freelancers make is not confronting their hiring managers’ concerns, aside from professional ones. In most cases, hiring managers expect a different level of engagement from a freelancer than from an employee. Freelancers can partially ease those concerns by positioning themselves as an extension of the team. Highlighting their commitment to meeting deliverables and deadlines and supporting the team when needed beyond their formal commitment is important, but missing this step can impact the relationship. 

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