Recurring revenue makes a lot of sense for freelancers. But how do you actually sell recurring revenue to your clients?
We’ve explored the “why” behind recurring revenue and looked at specific strategies for recurring revenue services. We’ve also explored how to execute recurring revenue. But now we’ll explore how to sell recurring revenue.
WordPress maintenance plans can bring a lot of stability to your freelance income. You love that idea. But that doesn’t mean your clients will be so eager to pony up. So how do you sell recurring revenue maintenance plans as something your clients need and want?
Sell Recurring Revenue With Education
A lot of WordPress freelancers don’t think of ourselves as salespeople. We don’t like to give a hard sell. That’s because we think of selling as manipulative, annoying—even scary. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Another approach is to educate your clients. Teach them what they need to know, give them options, and help them make decisions. It’s low pressure, it’s not icky, and it works.
Part of educating your clients is recognizing what they need to know. A good teacher adjusts their approach based on a student’s level. You need to do the same thing with your clients. Know when something is too technical or too in the weeds for clients to bother with.
- Don’t detail hosting: The technical details of different types of hosting is a good example. Your clients don’t understand the difference between shared hosting, VPNs, and managed hosting. And they don’t care.
- Say “software updates”: The term “WordPress updates” can also be confusing to clients. “Updates” sounds like news and clients might not understand why it’s so important. But “software updates” is something clients understand.
- Don’t name plugins: The plugins you use to make a site work and handle all your backups, updates, and security are also details your clients don’t need to know. You risk drowning them in minutia. A realtor doesn’t explain how the house was built, they focus on why you’re going to love it.
Sell Maintenance Plans Up Front
Educating your client should start from the very beginning. Often we think of education as something that happens after the site launches. We show a client the WordPress dashboard and teach them how to update their site.
But education should start at the beginning. You should pitch a maintenance plan in your initial client consultation.
First, be upfront about the pros and cons of WordPress. Talk about why we love WordPress (you own it, it’s easy to use, it’s expandable), but also talk about some of the weaknesses of WordPress (it can be vulnerable to hackers, it needs to be updated and backed up, and things can break).
This kind of honesty builds trust with clients. You can extol the benefits of WordPress while also owning up to the potential problems. But then you offer solutions, emphasizing how your maintenance plan will protect clients from those issues. So you hype the benefits and manage the weaknesses.
In addition to building trust, this approach also makes your maintenance plan an integral part of your service. Waiting to talk about it after you launch a site can feel like a bait and switch. Plus, it makes your maintenance plan seem like an afterthought. That’s not what you want. You want your services to be serious, well-reasoned plans—to the point that it seems foolish not to use them.
Give Clients Options
Another helpful way to sell recurring revenue is to lay out the options for your client. Talk about your maintenance plan and what you offer. Then tell them what their choices are:
- Do nothing: They decline your maintenance plan and do nothing. Their site is never updated, it’s eventually hacked or something breaks. It’s only a matter of time.
- Do it yourself: Offer to train your client and show them how they can manage maintenance themselves. Be sure to include extra time (and cost) for this training in your proposal.
- We do it for you: Sign up for our maintenance plan and let us worry about it.
Then help your clients decide. Ask some leading questions that will force them to consider the reality of the situation:
- Is this something you or an employee will do regularly? Is there time available to add this task?
- Do you keep your computer software updated? If you don’t get around to security updates on your computer, you’ll never do it for your website.
- Will you or an employee be comfortable making these updates? They’re often routine updates, but any update can break the site. What will you do then?
They’re hiring you to build the website, they should hire you to maintain it as well. Asking these questions can help a client come to that realization.
A final way to sell recurring revenue is to make it a package deal. Offer it as part of building a website and don’t make it an option.
You’ll have to decide how strict you want to be about this. There are two ways to approach it:
- Every site you build comes with an ongoing maintenance plan, period. If they don’t want to pay for an ongoing maintenance plan, they can hire someone else.
- You can allow them to choose whether or not they want the maintenance plan, but make the maintenance plan the default choice. Assume they’ll take it, pitch it like it’s part of the deal, and make them speak up if they don’t want it.
- If you do make the maintenance plan optional, make it a package deal that includes hosting, updates, and backups. They need all three, so don’t give them the option of not getting all three.
How you sell your maintenance plan is up to you. But you get to dictate the terms. When you actually do the work you want everything to be as streamlined as possible, so it might be easier to force all your clients to do the same thing. Sorting out which client paid for security and which client didn’t want backup is just a hassle.
Maintenance Plans Are Peace of Mind
Remember that you’re selling peace of mind. You’re offering to take care of all the problems. You’ll work proactively to keep your clients’ sites up and running, and you’ll also be there to fix it when something goes wrong.
By offering hosting and the whole deal, you can offer to be a single point of contact for technical issues for their website. Your client should never have to deal with a domain company, a hosting company, a web company, a plugin company—and whatever else there might be. They can just call you.
That’s a good feeling.
When you sell recurring revenue it works for you, sure. But this peace of mind is worth a lot to your clients.
Learn More with the Recurring Revenue Summit
Learn more with the Recurring Revenue Summit, a three-hour, on-demand webinar with expert Nathan Ingram. He talks through how to create recurring revenue services, including specific tips and suggestions for selling and executing these services.