The only way to scale your B2B agency is by scaling your lead generation systems to sign more clients & close more deals. Most agencies turn to outbound systems like cold email, cold direct messages (DMs), and even cold calling. But many overlook Upwork, a marketplace full of high-quality, high-paying clients for your B2B agency. But it’s a tough platform to crack, so we built an automated Upwork funnel that will help you add $25,000 per month to your B2B agency. We’re going to walk you through the system, and show you how to maximize success on Upwork with tailored search strategies and data-driven decision-making. 

Why Upwork? 

Upwork connects businesses with B2B agencies & freelancers around the world, helping them grow without hiring full-time employees. It’s one of the most effective platforms to sign clients for your B2B agency, especially if you’re just starting out. After you create your profile and add examples of your work, you can start communicating with potential prospects. 

With over three million jobs posted daily on Upwork (as of March 2023), the platform holds immense potential. Even a conservative approach, applying to just 10 out of 300 possible job fits per day, can yield significant results.

There are a few flaws with Upwork, however, especially if you’re pitching dozens of prospects each day. It’s difficult to keep track of communications, proposals, and signed contracts from the simple direct messaging portal, especially if many of the prospects are unqualified to work with you. And if you hope to scale your B2B agency, you need a data-driven lead generation and automated sales funnel so that you can close clients consistently and focus on scaling predictably.

Several of our clients face this same issue, so our automation agency built them an automatic lead generation system that helps them close high ticket deals as large as $25,000. The system is made for B2B agency owners that want to add an extra $5,000 to $25,000+ in revenue per month, and whose ideal customer profile (ICP) is businesses that make $100,000 to $200,000+ per month.

And though Upwork is a viable lead channel for many B2B industries, it’s not for everyone. To gauge the effectiveness of it as a lead generation platform, we built the Upwork ROI calculator. It’s designed to help agency owners assess whether Upwork is a viable channel for your business needs. The calculator takes into account various parameters: 

For instance, it allows you to input the number of jobs you plan to apply for daily, the cost associated with each job application, and the percentage of those applications that are likely to lead to a conversation with a potential client. 

Furthermore, the custom calculator enables B2B lead gen teams to input data regarding your average project value, setup fees, and ongoing service charges. This comprehensive approach not only helps in understanding the direct costs involved in acquiring a new client through Upwork but also offers a broader perspective on the overall profitability and sustainability of using the platform as a primary lead source. By punching in these numbers, agency owners can make informed decisions, evaluating if the high-ticket projects on Upwork align with your business’s revenue goals and service offerings.

The Three Pillars of a Successful Upwork Strategy

Upwork isn’t a perfect platform. There are plenty of opportunities to close high-ticket deals with quality, high-paying clients. There are also plenty of low-quality customers on Upwork who are not qualified to work with you. In order to make Upwork viable for your B2B company, you need to filter through this noise. Our automated Upwork funnel is built on three pillars to accomplish this goal.  

Pillar One: Accuracy

This pillar focuses on fine-tuning your search criteria to efficiently sift through Upwork’s extensive job listings, targeting only those leads that match your ICP. By refining your approach to identify high-ticket, relevant opportunities, you significantly reduce time spent on unqualified leads. This precision is particularly beneficial for a B2B context, where the quality of leads often outweighs quantity. This will make every minute you spend on the platform meaningful, helping you to maximize your return on investment (ROI) on the platform.

Pillar Two: Speed

Business moves fast; Upwork is no different. The speed at which you respond to leads will directly correlate to your closing rate on the platform. Speed, in this context, is not just about quick reactions but also about the efficient execution of your refined, accurate searches from Pillar One. By integrating speed with accuracy, you ensure that your business is not just first but also relevant in responding to opportunities. 

Pillar Three: Data

Data is the most valuable leverage you have in any B2B campaign. This pillar emphasizes the strategic use of data to continually refine and optimize your Upwork funnel. By analyzing patterns in job postings, response rates, and successful conversions, you can make informed decisions to enhance your approach. This data-driven methodology enables you to identify trends, optimize your proposal strategies, and focus on the most profitable sectors. You can also use this data to improve your other marketing channels like cold email, Meta Ads, or YouTube Ads. 

How to Set Up an Effective Upwork Lead Gen Funnel

  1. Designing Upwork Searches

The goal is to navigate through Upwork’s extensive listings to find high-value, relevant projects. This process involves a nuanced understanding of the platform’s search functionality and its limitations. Here’s how our system tackles those: 

By implementing these strategies in designing Upwork searches, B2B founders can significantly improve your chances of connecting with high-quality leads, aligning with your business objectives and maximizing the efficacy of your Upwork lead generation efforts.

  1. Scaling Upwork as a Lead Source

Once you’ve closed a few deals, it’s time to scale the operation and increase your agency’s revenue. This isn’t as simple as increasing your bid volume, it requires further optimization of the entire funnel. We recommend hiring & training a virtual assistant (VA) to understand the specific nuances of your business’s specific search criteria. Once involved in the system, the right VAs will significantly increase your reach and efficiency. 

VAs will be the first step to scaling, but just because you’re closing more deals doesn’t mean that the funnel can’t be improved even more. Continuous tracking and analysis of application success rates, types of jobs applied for, and client feedback are essential. This data-driven approach allows for an iterative refinement of strategies, focusing on job types and industries that yield the best results. You may need to improve the proposal delivery or adjust prospect targeting. Regardless, you’ll need to constantly analyze & iterate on each stage of the funnel to garner the best results. 

  1. The Role of Copy and Sales Processes

There’s a common misconception about landing clients on Upwork: your copy, specifically the keywords you use in your profile & proposals, are the most important element of your success on the platform. But in fact, your copy is secondary to this data-driven approach. Success is dependent on aligning your proposals with data-derived insights. Over time, you’ll need to analyze which types of proposals yield higher engagement and conversion rates and adjust your approach accordingly. It’s a balance between crafting compelling copy and tailoring it based on historical performance metrics on the platform. Regularly revising and testing different proposal templates, informed by ongoing data analysis, becomes key. Each proposal, in this context, is not just a bid for a project but a valuable data point that feeds into refining your sales strategy.

Advanced Techniques for Maximizing Upwork Success

To truly excel & scale on Upwork, B2B founders need to adopt advanced techniques that go beyond basic platform use. To do this, you must understand how to manipulate Upwork’s search functionality to your advantage. This involves getting around some of the platform’s limitations and bugs, like the nuances in hourly filtering, which might exclude high-paying jobs that don’t specify an hourly rate. Effective search design is crucial, tailoring every aspect of search parameters to the specific needs of your agency, whether it’s design, marketing, or development. This customization must take into account the varying language used by clients, synonyms, and common misspellings in job descriptions.

Another critical aspect is being aware of and overcoming common challenges such as the tendency of some job postings to include irrelevant skills or keywords – a practice known as keyword stuffing. This requires a strategic approach to keyword use, ensuring that your search terms are accurately targeting the jobs that are most relevant to your services. Additionally, understanding the differences between job categories and the peculiarities of Upwork’s skill listings can greatly enhance your ability to find the right projects. For instance, identifying that listings under ‘PHP’ yield significantly different results than ‘Custom PHP’ or ‘PHP Scripts’ can refine your search results dramatically.

And finally, everything you do on Upwork needs to be centered around data. This involves tracking and analyzing the types of jobs you apply for, your response rates, and your success rates. This data will help optimize your approach, focusing on job types, industries, or specific Upwork features that yield the best results.

Ready to scale your B2B agency with automation consulting solutions like Upwork?

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