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Getting a potential client to sign a contract.

How to move from the interview stage to having a signed contract in hand?
While most of my clients have signed a contract after a hour long call to discuss the project(Step #3 below).

With some of them the interview seems to stretch out for weeks and in one case months, We seem to get stuck in steps 4-6 below with no signs of breaking out.

  1. Got invited to submit a proposal.
  2. Submitted a bid highlighting with relevant work experience in the cover letter.
  3. Exchanged messages with the client detailing the top 3 approach's can be taken to solve his problem anong with impact of each approach.
  4. Client responds with "Good! will {new piece of information} change the way you handle things"
  5. Send an analysis of how the new info affects things.
  6. GoTo #4


At some point I would like the client to

  1. Stop the game of "Guess my project" or "Lets do Design by 20 Questions",
  2. If there are any doubts ask them directly so that I can clarify.
  3. Make a decision on whether I meet their requirements or not.
  4. Award/Reject the contract based on their decision.

Do you face these problems? How do you convince the client to move forward and start the actual work?

Community Member

Do they know that they have to send you an offer?

Community Member

With a current client I have sent two reminders till now to put a contract in place before continuing with the technical discussions.
One past client has awarded 700+ contracts on upwork so I assume he knows the process. Others are first timers...

This is something you should build into your process. You have to make a determination, a cut-off point that you apply to every client.

I use an app called PhraseExpress for this. After a while you learn the most common objections a client will have, as well as the most common requests for information, and how they are related to the service you provide.

It is a good idea to spend some time writing out your best response to the objection, or question.

When the client asks one of these questions, I right click PhraseExpress, paste my rebuttal to the objection, or reply to their question, and then tailor what I pasted to the client's specific situation.

But you will also have to grow a bit of backbone. It sounds like you have internally made a decision not to give more information, but you continue to give more information in the hopes of getting the job.

Just tell the client--in a very polite way--that you'd be happy to start work on the contract, but in order to start they need to click the hire button. If the client communicates they are offended, apologize profusely and move on. But don't answer the question.

This communicates to the client that they are paying for your time AND your expertise.

Because in all reality, that's precisely what is happening. The client needs you AND your expertise.

I saw a post on LinkedIn the other day that makes this very same point, but more succintly. I attached it here.

The thing is, right now, the client is learning that your time is not as valuable as you indicated via your hourly rate.

Remember you're running a business. You absolutely need to kind to your clients, but you should remember you're not a non-profit. Be kind to yourself too.

Community Member

I'm had exchanges with clients who ask question after question in the hopes of getting information BEFORE spending any money with me.  I try to "tease" what I would do speaking in generalities but never given them the actual goods until the contract starts.  


You're not just a freelancer with experience in your field, but you're also a salesperson trying to make a living (or supplement to your full-time job).  After your one-hour intereview (really, an hour?  keep it to 1/2 hour and say you have a hard stop), follow-up summarizing what you discussed, how you can help and your rate to proceed.  End with: "Looking forward to working together".  

I spent 2 hours yesterday putting together an outline for something in the hopes of winning this client. We already spoke on the phone, and I think he's interested in me and the contract could potentially hit the $10k mark, so I'm kinda taking a chance in wowing him. 'Course, if he hates it then womp womp. Ohe well. 


All you can do is tell them. If they decide to work with you, they will definitely hit the offer button.

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