Today, you’re going to learn about something that most freelancers try to avoid because they don’t see it as important. In general, most people try avoiding this skill because of the negative stigma surrounding it. Yep, you guessed it, we’re talking about sales.
I’m here to teach you how to get clients easily by improving your sales skills, learning how to sell yourself and your talents as a service to other businesses.
First, you’ll learn how to have that very first conversation with potential clients, then, I’ll teach you how to convert that person into an actual client in a follow-up conversation called a “strategy meeting.”
Today’s inspirational quote is, “most people think selling is the same as talking, but the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job.” – Roy Bartell
In short, you’re going to learn how to listen today. You’ll learn that 80% of sales involves listening, and only 20% involves words coming out of your own mouth. We’ll cover how to handle these situations both online and in-person, because both methods have their differences.
This skill will help you in all aspects of your life. It will benefit you as a parent, a spouse, and a friend. Let’s get started.
Sales is the art of persuasion. Sales is you using communication to convince someone else of your idea or to take a certain action. It’s not coercion. You may hear this and still think that salespeople are manipulative. But today, you’re going to learn about how salesmanship is actually used to help people get what they want.
As a salesperson, you’re simply helping other people overcome fears they have that are holding them back. You’re performing a service. We’ve talked about the importance of the free market in previous episodes. The free market is the perfect model for persuasion. It relies on persuasion for people to negotiate, sell, and trade with one another.
On the other hand, the government uses coercion to practice “sales.” This is why we often avoid sales. I avoided sales for a long time because of this perspective. Today, I want to change the definition of sales for you so that you can see it in the positive light you need for success.
Let’s dive right in. First, for step one, you need a 30-second pitch about yourself. This is called an “elevator pitch.” You’ve probably heard of this before. It’s important because it keeps you from rambling when you get an unexpected business inquiry.
This statement needs to include what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it. You’ll also want to include how what you do will benefit potential clients. Do this in about one to two sentences, preferably 10 to 15 seconds rather than 30, because 30 seconds really is pushing it.
I’m going to use one of mine as an example. I say just “one of mine” because I have several different elevator pitches depending on the crowd. If you serve different types of clients, or you offer different services, you’ll need to create different variations of your pitch, too.
Here’s my ideal client statement: “I help online education businesses and influences optimize their video strategy on their website and on YouTube in a way where videos have measurable ROI, so their current audience becomes more engaged and more willing to buy, and their future followers find them.”
Now, if I’m talking to someone who only wants help with videos on their website, I will leave the YouTube part out. Or if I talk to someone who has plenty of traffic and a huge list coming through their site, but few people buying from them, I’ll focus on how strategies can help increase conversations and sales.
You need to beat them to the question so that you know who you’re talking to before your pitch yourself.
Now, one thing I will say is that the more experience you get in your craft, whether it’s video editing, graphic design, software development, and so on, the bigger your resume gets, the quicker this sales process will go. It’s easier to convince a potential client once you can easily prove yourself to them.
I’m going to tell you about how to “follow the thread.” Essentially, this is the formula for how to navigate through a networking conversation so that you can land a meeting with a client or with a potential client, then talk business with them in a strategy meeting. The intent here is to get you good at convincing the person to accept a meeting with you.
The first conversation is very important because it helps you decide whether it’s worth devoting half an hour or an hour in a strategy meeting with this person or not. It’s a two-way thing; you’re qualifying them, and they’re qualifying you.
If you’re having an in-person conversation, ask the person what they do and what brought them to the event. If you’re doing this online though, you likely already know what they do and what they’re coming to you for, which shortens the sales process. It’ll also be easier to listen to and remember their answers when you’re online because messages are saved. In person, you’ll need to be very attentive.
When you're online, typically you're, you're starting out messaging back and forth just through written conversation. Then you may get on a short 10 to 15 minute intro call and that intro call might be your strategy meeting.
And then you might convert that person right then, or that intro call might be this first conversation. And then you have a follow-up conversation that takes a little longer, but that’s where you convert them into a client.
So, step two is to listen closely to what they say, and step three is to repeat back what they say. It doesn’t have to be robotic or word-for-word, but it needs to essentially be what they’ve said without changing it into your own words. Be careful to not change keywords. What may sound like a synonym can actually mean something totally different.
This will make them feel respected, they’ll like you more, and you’ll be more apt to convert them easily. If you’re online, you definitely need to repeat things and make sure to check for clarity. Sometimes people communicate in fractured ways when they’re just messaging back and forth, you need to be extra careful to repeat back what they say.
Step four is to relate. You’re sharing a story that’s similar to theirs. Sometimes, the relating factor can be a simple testimonial. But don’t try to top the potential client’s story. Just find a way to relate to what they shared with you, even if it’s just a simple one-sentence response.
Moreover, you never want it to seem like an interrogation. Relating is important because without it, the conversation is just a series of back-and-forth questions and answers.
This whole process will become more natural over time. It’s not an extremely structured thing. It’ll flow naturally, especially the more you do it. After the conversation goes on for a bit and it’s going well, then you can introduce a call suggestion.
Once they agree and you have a call with them, discuss your process. I tell them that if we decide not to work together, this call still isn’t a waste of time because I will be sharing insights and important information that can aid them in the future.
I really struggled talking to people in a sales type conversation when I first started developing this skill. Even as an extravert, talking in a sales conversation can feel awkward. But if you do this every single day with people, you’re reaching out to online, or practice it with family and friends, it will get better.
You may start off with longer meetings, but they’ll get shorter over time. Mine average to be around 15 minutes. You’re not doing anything wrong if it takes longer. It’s just that it takes longer to convince people when you have a shorter resume.
Now, let’s look at the part of the conversation where you learn more about the client’s problem and goal. This is where you give them details about your services, what you do, and what your process will look like. You’ll give them a little bit of advice relative to your industry. It shows your experience in your field.
In most of my own strategy calls, I’ll usually share something related to YouTube or video marketing. This is how you show them that even if you don’t end up working together, they didn’t waste their time with you. It also shows them that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about what you do.
Now you’re to the part of the call where you basically tell them what you’re charging and what kind of return they can expect. If you’re just starting out, then you must be a little vague here. However, if you’re been in the business for a while, your data will be presented here.
This is also the part of the call where you dissolve all their objectifications about working with you. They’re going to have certain concerns about working with you, and you need to figure out what those concerns are so that you can show them why you can deliver what they need.
You’ll need to do something called “road mapping” as well. This means you’ll go over the process you’re going to use to achieve the client’s goal within respected timelines. By the time you get to this point of the conversation, you should have already decided that this client is a good fit for you.
Now that we’ve gone over the steps it takes to have an effective strategy meaning, let’s go over a few things. First off, you can do these steps out of order. Second, until you master this formula, try not to go off the books. Once you get it down, there will be times where you can skip around with ease, but not yet.
The agenda for this call is to set your intention and to understand theirs. Sometimes, the potential client will dive right into their intention, and then you can do the same. But it takes time for others, particularly when they’re not yet convinced that they should spend their money on you.
Once you learn their intention, figure out how long they think it will take to achieve their goal. Are they close to achieving their goal? Are they just getting started? While platforms like Upwork include job descriptions, oftentimes those descriptions only scratch the surface. You’ll still need to ask about these details.
Now, you’re at the perceived obstacles point. You repeat back the potential client’s own words. Then, you ask some follow-up questions.
These kinds of questions involve asking if they’ve hired someone like you before, ask what they’ve tried to achieve their goal or solve their problem, and so on. Then, you show them why you can help solve their problem. Show them why you’re different than the last person they tried to collaborate with. Or if you’re their first, show them why you’re worth the investment.
You’ll then ask them to scale how much of a priority their goal is, on a scale from 1 to 10. This helps you know what you’re getting into. If they tell you that this project is an 8 on the scale, and that they have another project that’s a 10, you can be prepared for when they ask to pause your assignment.
This doesn’t mean to not work with them if their project goal is less than 10! Instead, this is a way to prepare yourself because this client may potentially put you on the backburner at certain times.
Every ambitious person has a process. If there’s a certain way that you perform your job that makes you more productive, share that with the client. What is unique about your process? How do you approach it differently, and why does your approach make you worth hiring? These are things you need to share.
After you’re done sharing, then ask them if your process sounds beneficial for them. If they say yes, then you can tell them what options you have, what your packages look like, and then let them decide from there.
But only share the packages that are most relevant to their problem and their goal. Don’t overshare. Don’t tell them every service that you provide. If it’s not relevant, then leave it out. Once they tell you what suits them the most, then you can discuss package pricing.
If they need something tailored to them, tell them you’ll take no more than 24 hours to come up with a package that better suits their needs. However, try to get back to them even earlier than that. As little as an hour is ideal.
As you can see, at each point, you keep requalifying the client. When your potential client doesn’t pass your tests after only 5 minutes, you can be sure that they’re not for you. This is the perfect reason to end the conversation early. You don’t want to waste time on either side.
You’ll want to use past client examples to show them their ROI (return on investment). For example, if a client paid $2,000 for your service, and they saw a ROI of $5,000 within a few months, this looks great. They’ll know that you’re legitimate when you have figures like these.
There are different types of ROI, though. Sometimes you can use followers as an example. If your potential client wants more traffic, focus on how you’ve helped other clients gain traction online. Find out what metrics matter most to the client and choose your examples from there. Do not wait until this point to figure this out though. Ask early on.
When you don’t have past client stories to use, you’ll need to find other ways to resolve their concerns. These could be examples from past jobs, or relatable stories from your own life that seem relevant to the situation.
When you make it this far and the client is ready to collaborate with you, now it’s time to send over the contractor and get started. However, before you send or sign any contractors, make sure that they fully understand your process. Agree upon how often you’ll check in and meet with them, and how often you’ll be sending reports.
One of the biggest issues with beginner freelancers is that they walk away from the call with so much excitement that they forget to make their role clear. Then, these freelancers may get accused of not following up or doing their part because the client expected something different from the freelancer’s process.
I want to close with some tips you should implement before your strategy meeting. First off, make sure that you become prepared. Consider as many possible objections as you can so that you’re prepared to alleviate the client’s concerns.
When you get surprised by these concerns, you will ramble and panic. This reduces their trust in you. It’s your job to enroll them into committing to something they already want. You don’t want to make them doubt your abilities to help them achieve their goals.
Also, if the only winner is you, then you’re not having an ethical sales conversation. You need to make sure that you BOTH walk away as winners. You’re not just trying to sell the service; you’re selling the solution.
You also need to be empathetic. Even if you haven’t experienced their situation personally, try to step into their shoes. This is how you can be the best salesperson. Don’t glorify your services, and don’t try to sell something that the other person doesn’t need or isn’t interested in.
Overall, remember that these strategy meetings will get shorter over time. You’ll have more and more testimonials and ratings to prove your worth without having to hash it out with every new client.
My business started to take off when I overcame my fear of sales. Stop avoiding it and stop thinking that it’s sleazy. There’s a difference between ethical sales and unethical sales. When you do this the right way, you’re actually helping someone. You’re not lying or manipulating your clients. You’re presenting truthful information and you’re working hard to help them reach their goals.
I hope this information helps you better reach your clients. Visit ArrowLight.tv for more information about self-employment, or to get into contact with us. My name is Chad, and I look forward to seeing you in our next early morning conversation.