Writing proposals that win you projects

Tips for Closing More Deals

By Brennan Dunn

Many freelancers have a big opportunity for increasing the clients they sign on by optimizing their deal closing process.

Today we’ll share a few tips to help you with that.

Closing More Deals

Often times, you’ll encounter two types of potential clients.

There’s one who knows exactly what they need, and you’ll be able to tell them right away if you can take their project or not.

Then there are the ones who have no idea, and need their hand held through the entire process.

More often than not, you’ll be handling a lot of the hand-holding types.

The key here is to save time, both on your end and theirs.

Here are some tips on how to do so:

  1. Extract only the information you need to write up a proposal. Some clients tend to beat around the bush with what they’re looking for. Get a list of bullet points out of them, and save any extra information for a phone call.
  2. Make sure that their time frame and budget aligns with yours. If you can’t take their project or account right away, say that up front. Put them on old, but don’t let the lead go cold. If they know you’re good, they’ll be willing to wait for you to accommodate them.
  3. If you can do exactly what they’re looking for, tell them outright, and head into the negotiation process. If you can’t, send them to someone who can. Referrals go a long way to gaining future business as well.

Time Spent in Closing Deals

I see the deal process as being made up of the following stages:

Lead -> Pitch -> Negotiation -> Closing -> Won

It’s important to know how much time you spend in each of these stages.

Something I’ve noticed is that the rates of failure or success vary from stage to stage. As you progress a lead through the stages, with each progression, you are increasingly likely to close them as new business.

So with that said, the majority of losses are often in the Lead stage and Pitch stage.

If your pitch is successful and you move into negotiations, your chances of winning the deal are very high.

Naturally, you’ll spend the most time in the Negotiation and Closing stages, as these are where you’ll be writing up proposals and finalizing scopes of work.

However, with a huge jump in success rates, try focusing a bit more time during the pitching and follow-up process, to funnel people into negotiations.

Signs of a Deal Going Well

Instinctively, when it comes to deals made around work, you only want to take in clients that you can handle. With that said, here’s how to tell when your lead is going well:

  • Consistent email communication with timely responses from the other side
  • Explicit interest, typically in the format of “we’re excited” or “we’re looking forward to working together”
  • Follow-through on action items that fall on their plate

But as we all know, things rarely go this smoothly. If you find that the deal is stalling, or not showing the signs mentioned above, there are a few things you can do to get things back on track:

  • Set up a recurring meeting (typically weekly or bi-weekly) to check in on status and lay out next steps
  • Provide simplistic visuals to clearly explain the value and details of the deal, making it easy for the point person to get buyoff from the rest of their organization
  • Connect with the point person on Linkedin, follow them on Twitter, and INTERACT. Build a relationship outside of business
  • To get get a face to face meeting in place, there’s nothing more powerful than a real human interaction


As you progress into a more refined sales process, take into account the statistics of your own sales and business development funnel. Understand where your hitches are and after what stage does your chances of success increase greatly.

This article was originally written several years ago by Kevin Chau and has been updated and modified by team DYF to be relevant for 2023.