It’s your job to bring in new clients and maintain business. That’s part of both the excitement and the stress of running your freelance business. Instead of having someone to sell services for you, you have to do it yourself.
In this article, veteran sales experts share their best tips, and the good news is, they aren’t complicated or confusing.
If you’ve never done sales, or find that you fail to close nearly every sales call you take, use these tips to start bringing in new clients.
1. Know your product’s value
This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to lead with a feature-based conversation, rather than a value- and benefits-based conversation. Sam Meenasian, Vice President of Sales and Marketing Operations for USA Business Insurance says,
“People want to see value and someone who is knowledgeable always gets the customer. Whether it is a tangible product or not, the buyer wants to know they’re not wasting their money.”
What’s more, this actually makes selling easier, Meenasian explains: “When you know exactly what you are offering, there is no need to go outside of your box to sell.”
Before taking another sales call, create a list of value-based topics you can bring into your conversation with the potential client. For example, rather than saying you’re a great communicator, you might say you answer emails within 24 hours so you’re always available when they need you most.
2. Don’t make assumptions
If you’ve done the necessary research before your sales call, you may go in with preconceived ideas of what the potential client wants or needs from you. This is your first mistake, suggests Lee Dyson, owner of Hey Mister DJ.
His number one sales tip is to eliminate your assumptions. “Most salespeople let their internal biases affect how they present their service or product based on what they assume is most important to a client, instead of just asking.”
When booking DJ clients, for example, Dyson says they ask many questions about what the couple wants, what they have in mind, and how they want their guests to feel. The answers are then used to cater the closing pitch to the specific needs and wants of the client. In the end, Dyson says: “Most clients end up saying ‘WOW, you totally get us!’”
3. Turn your sales call into a case study
Testimonials have been proven time and time again to drive sales online. Why not bring this technique to your sales calls too?
Julie Doig McPeek, who started her career in sales at Procter & Gamble and has been running her own brand strategy and marketing services company, Provisor Marketing, for the past 17 years, explains how easy it is to do this:
“In your sales pitch, give examples of the types of businesses you can help so that your prospect can say ‘that’s me!’”
To do so, you just need to prepare ahead of time, looking for stats and data you can reference during the call. Don’t complicate the conversation with confusing numbers and instead, keep it high-level. Offer to send more information later if they’re interested.
4. Really know your ideal client
Any business guide will tell you this, and Dwayne Vera, founder of Sales Legend Academy says it’s critical to figure out as soon as possible. As a freelancer, this is easy to overlook—you need business and you need it now, so you may be willing to take on anyone.
“But there is nothing worse than having a client who is a poor fit,” says Vera. He continues, “Poor fit clients can become customer experience nightmares, possibly resulting in poor reputation.”
When you know what client you want, you “understand their pains, motivations, and desires,” explains Vera, which allows you to sell better and be more authentic in your pitch. If you haven’t figured this out yet, use this guide from Kim Garst to identify your ideal client and start selling better.
5. Educate, don’t sell
Your instinct on a sales call is to do exactly that: sell. However, Ashton T. Harvey, who took a failing territory generating 500K in annual revenue to 1.5 million in 2 years, and founded The Significant Edge, says to educate first and foremost.
“Everyone is trying to sell everyone, but people do not buy from people who sell—they buy from people who educate.”
What does it mean to educate? It means to listen and understand, says Harvey: “Most people do not know they need something until they hear it come out of their own mouth.”
Instead of focusing first on your sales pitch, start by educating the potential client on what your product or service is and how it works. This naturally leads you to ask the questions needed to close with confidence.
6. Build selling into your daily routine
It sounds exhausting, but focusing on selling every day helps you avoid the even more exhausting daily stress—not knowing when your next client will come through—says Scott Ingram, Host of the Daily Sales Tips podcast.
“Avoid the feast or famine rollercoaster that is all too common to freelance work by carving a set amount of time out of each day for sales activities. Ideally this should be a combination of prospecting, follow-up, client outreach and referral gathering.”
In this way, you’re regularly contacting and connecting with potential clients, increasing your chances of success. This means there should be space in your calendar each day for one of these sales processes: prospecting, follow-up, and current client outreach.
Become a better salesperson
Use these tips to take your sales up a level, earning more clients and stressing less. Don’t forget to educate, know your product, ask questions, and stick with it every day of the week. The better you get at sales, the more your business can grow, so use these ideas to get better at selling once and for all.