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My thoughts on UW's efforts in courting Enterprise clients

Community Leader
Tom Z Member Since: Jul 10, 2016
1 of 15

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Community Guru
Lila G Member Since: Dec 4, 2017
2 of 15

Tom - such an interesting topic and good point made.


I was just speaking about this with one of my recent clients and he told me the reason why he likes Upwork is that as a small business owner he can find the work he needs on this platform much easier than going to an establish firm. My work is all architectural. Now that I been on the platform for over a year and a half I can see how that has been majority of my work comes from those small business owners, starting developers who usually can't afford 20k-50k with an architectural firm when they are architectural freelancers on this site who can do the work at 25% of most firms price. In short, Upwork is great resources for those smaller businesses who don't get cater by larger/establish companies. Or I also get many projects that are conceptual for seeking investor/funding who get declined by companies. Of course, I can only speak for my line of work.

 

To answer your question, I too decline invites from enterprise clients. One is because in my category it doesn't make sense. Two, the first time I got invited, I went through the applying process and then never got a response back. More time was wasted by the Upwork talent specialist trying to connect us than anything.

 

Lila
Community Guru
John K Member Since: Feb 17, 2015
3 of 15

Tom, thanks for posting that, it's interesting reading, though I have yet to work for an Enterprise client.

__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce
Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
4 of 15

Tom Z wrote:

 

 You're not getting money from Enterprise, and assuming my assumptions are correct, freelancers like me don't see Enterprise proposals as serious, and we just reject it (rather than going through hoops on a fool's errand), and therefore you don't get money from freelancers for Enterprise projects. Just a thought. And curious what other freelancers' thoughts are on Enterprise proposals.

 

 


Actually, this is wrong. Their main bread and butter is 3 large enterprise clients.   Whenever I see a freelancer complain about these large clients and report them and file tickets and whatever, I just think to myself "ooh boy you don't wanna go down that road. abort abort abort."

Community Leader
Tom Z Member Since: Jul 10, 2016
5 of 15

 

 

Marketplace - Freelancers, regular clients.

Managed services - Enterprise, maybe Featured Jobs?

 

Can you tell me who Upwork's biggest clients are again? Smiley Happy

Additionally, if you look at the costs of freelancer services to deliver managed services - 18,172 (thousands), and you look at the revenue from managed services - 21,832 -- can you tell me are they making a killing or are they making a killing from marketplace? 42,406 (thousands) cost vs 164,180 in revenue from marketplace?

 

The world is vastly more complex than just "who's right, who's wrong", and this is no different, try not to think in terms of who's right who's wrong, you'll be better off with that mindset.

 

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
6 of 15

Managed services isn't enterprise. It's their Payroll service.

 

 

 

 

Community Leader
Tom Z Member Since: Jul 10, 2016
7 of 15

Was not aware they had a payroll service, other than charging the $1. If that's the case then I happily rest my case on that and trust your judgment.

Community Guru
Scott B Member Since: Nov 20, 2015
8 of 15

Upwork has had the tendency to get an idea and rather than fully flesh it out and test, they tend to throw it out there to everyone and hope for the best. My feeling is that the large enterprise client should be pursued given they can bring better jobs and more stability to the platform. I don't know how existing relationships are working today in all areas of course. Although I have been part of the "Talent Clouds" and "Pro" programs for a long time now, nothing has ever come from them. Other areas might have more traction. Perhaps they can find some targeted companies across a wider array of industries and work to refine the model encompassing how  they service these corporate clients and then ensuring a high quality mix of talent on the freelancer side. Nothing is going to make a corporate client flee faster than substandard talent. If I were UW I would seek out the cream of freelancers on this platform as a test base with the small subset of corporate clients. You want to put your best foot forward and build a strong base and positive word of mouth. I would look to stack the deck in doing that and not leave this up to random chance which is how so many things seem to be done. I think this path can work but it should be taken iteratively with lessons learned fed back. I have yet to see the discipline here to do that though, but hopefully some time down the line there will be leadership in place that will change that.

Community Guru
Wendy C Member Since: Aug 24, 2015
9 of 15

Tom Z., you make valid points.  @ Scott, as always ... AMEN! to your comments.  They are sound and, from my experience which is very similar to yours although our focuses are different, absolutely 110% correct.

 

This just makes solid business sense:

"If I were UW I would seek out the cream of freelancers on this platform as a test base with the small subset of corporate clients. You want to put your best foot forward and build a strong base and positive word of mouth. I would look to stack to the deck in doing that and not leave this up to random chance which is how so many things seem to be done. I think this path can work but it should be taken iteratively with lessons learned fed back."

 

Community Guru
Bill H Member Since: Aug 18, 2017
10 of 15

This just makes solid business sense:

"If I were UW I would seek out the cream of freelancers on this platform as a test base with the small subset of corporate clients. You want to put your best foot forward and build a strong base and positive word of mouth. I would look to stack to the deck in doing that and not leave this up to random chance which is how so many things seem to be done. I think this path can work but it should be taken iteratively with lessons learned fed back."

 

There are several reasons this is difficult to do. First is UW's operations model. To run a platform, you don't need to know anything about freelancing domains, how freelancers win work and how they manage client relationships. You also don't need to know anything about consultative selling. The business model focuses on commodity services, and the operations model is designed to execute the business model. None of that applies to large programs and projects, nor to high-value freelancing.

 

I offered elance an introduction to a lucrative market, filled by myself and maybe a couple hundred other top-tier consulting veterans. Companies that are relatively new and growing like crazy have many needs and few people to meet them. They would hire someone such as me to look at the situation, determine what was needed, and find an appropriate provider. I managed multiple millions in spend for each client. This isn't for tasks such as "Build me an xyz app." It's "Find the right location for my warehouse, arrange to lease or build. Design warehouse for operation." It's "Find me a native speaker of English qualified as a multi-engine jet pilot with at least 2,000 hours." Both are real examples. I was told to go pound sand because elance knows what it's doing, and doesn't need amateurs from the outside throwing out random thoughts.

 

If this mind-set hasn't changed, then it doesn't matter if UW focuses on Enterprise clients, Mom and Pop shops, or the Mafia. The system is self-limiting.

 

Selling these services isn't done by code writers and other tech types. It's done through consultative selling by people with industry expertise - the client's industry. The value proposition is easy for a publicly-traded client. Turn project development and management from a fixed cost to a variable one, and reduce headcount without reducing revenue. The former benefit offers the CFO a lot of flexibility, and the latter benefit boosts the client's stock price. But, what do I know? I can't code a ham sandwich.

 

Rather than a limited number of companies, I'd start with a limited number of industries. Target the prospective clients in the 40th-70th percentile of revenue that are relatively new and growing. This captures both the ones wanting to move up the ranks, and those afraid of falling further. Get smart on the industries, find freelancers with credibility in them, and use a consultative sales rep to explore opportunities. UW employees know how to wite algorithms to get rid of human employees, but little to nothing about, say, transportation management, discrete manufacturing, hospitality, professional services, health care delivery, supply chain management, etc.

 

To find the freelancers, the temptation will be to go straight for JSS/Rankings. Wrong starting point. I'd start at the 90th percentile of hourly rate, model those folks, and disregard UW's existing evaluation approach. The freelancers with significant credibility in an industry will tell UW which companies to target, how, and what kind of solutions to focus on. The experts in their field almost all use consultative selling; if UW understands the topic, I'll be surprised. It's not a numbers game.

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