Overdelivering is one of those things that seems like a good idea at the time.

You think to yourself ‘I’ll quote this new client for something that I think they’ll buy and then I’ll do a few more hours or days or I’ll do a bit extra, just to show them how good I am and how much I want to work for them, and they’ll love me for it.’

Let’s unpick this.

You are offering to work for this client for some of the time for nothing.

You are also offering the best bits of the work you do to them for nothing.

You are not even telling them that you are doing this, so they have no sense of perceived value in this extra work you are doing.

There are two possible outcomes from overdelivering:

  1. The client thinks you make a mountain out of a molehill with the work you deliver – it’s much more than they asked for and they are unlikely to offer you further work.
  2. The client loves what you’ve done and will hire you again, but on the same basis as they are getting super value from you.

Neither of these is the outcome you were looking to achieve.

One of the best ways into a new client is to offer them something modest with a view to building an ongoing relationship. Overdelivering at this first point is not going to set that relationship up well and has the potential to do you out of future work – because you’ve already done it.

There is an alternative: selling whilst delivering.

Selling whilst delivering is one of my favourite activities. It’s where I’m at a client meeting on a project, which means I’m being paid to be there, and during this meeting I sell them another piece of work. Fantastic! I don’t have to meet with the client speculatively (and in an unpaid capacity) to pitch and sell my services.

It works for the client too; they know I can deliver. And, they don’t have to take the time to look for another freelancer, brief them and then get the project started. This is where the long-term value of the freelancer–client relationship starts to kick in.

So, rather than overdelivering by throwing the next stage of the project that you could deliver into the mix for free early on, offer this bit of work as a next step or next project for the client as an outcome or recommendations from the work you are already doing.

This has many benefits; it demonstrates that you are thinking about the client and their needs, and you are giving reasons for them to work with you again in a situation where you can offer them further value.

It can become a pattern. You do a piece of work for the client. At the end of it your recommendations include a further piece of work for them delivered by you. And so on.

So, drop the temptation to do extra. Fulfil the client brief and keep reeling them in for more work.