So, your freelance business plan is coming to fruition, and you’re excited about building your client base.
We’ve already discussed 8 essential steps for how to promote your services as a freelancer and 3 key questions to ask yourself when deciding how to price your services as a freelancer.
However, at this point, you may feel uncertain when you think of actually making a sale, especially if you don’t feel like a natural “salesperson.” You may be wondering if you’ll ever become comfortable at sales. Those feelings are common.
Selling any product or service is difficult, but even the most reluctant or unsure salesperson can become an effective salesperson by understanding and practicing a few key ideas.
These ideas require some effort, but they will make the difference in taking your freelancing business to the next level.
Practicing these key ideas, will help you become comfortable selling your services as a freelancer naturally and easily.
Want a great book on this relationship-focused approach? Check out Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale It offers great tools that anyone can use to get people to say “yes.”
Clients will feel more comfortable developing a partnership with you if they know you have their best interests in mind. Tweet this
We’ve all been disappointed by a company or business.
Naturally, your potential clients have also had this experience and may be hesitant when it comes to working with a new freelancer.
They may be wondering if your business is any different. Why should they choose you? Why should they trust you?
Here’s how to cultivate this partnership and develop trust between yourself and the client.
This may sound easy, but people crave connection and want to work with people they actually like.
Furthermore, clients want to know that you understand them. So, begin to connect with clients by opening up about yourself.
Find a common interest. Do you both enjoy fishing, golfing, or traveling? Do you both have school-aged kids? Do you have similar tastes in music or movies?
If you want to keep it strictly professional, ask them about their business.
- How did they get started?
- What is the business like?
- What roadblocks have they encountered?
- What are their long-term goals?
By opening up personally and showing genuine interest in them, you are building trust and communicating your willingness to help them accomplish their goals.
When they trust you and believe you are in their corner, they will listen to how you can help them.
And they will be more comfortable hiring you.
One way to communicate that you are genuinely interested in their business and in helping them is to truly listen to what they have to say and to ask clarifying questions when you need more information.
Listening closely indicates that you care enough about them and their business to pay attention to what they say and how they say it.
Listen for the details they reveal and notice the details they withhold. They may be communicating just as much with what they don’t say as with what they do say.
Also listen to how they talk about their business.
Are they optimistic and excited? Meet that optimism with your own excitement.
Are they frustrated or discouraged? Offer hope and encouragement that you can help them.
By paying attention and responding to the client’s tone, you are building the relationship through empathy, and that, in turn, builds trust.
Along with listening closely, you need to ask good, clarifying questions.
Asking relevant questions shows the client that you are interested in learning more about their business and understanding how you can support them and deliver something that works for them.
Also, remember that the person asking the questions in a conversation controls where the conversation goes. So, if you are asking the right questions, you can point the conversation where it needs to go.
As you begin to understand your client better and pinpoint the needs of their business, keep your communication focused on results.
They want a clear result. Do you know what it is?
If you don’t, you need to continue the process of listening and asking questions.
You may need to help them clarify or refine the results they want, and one way to do this is to show them examples of previous work you’ve done.
This may help them to broaden the scope of their vision, understand all the possibilities you can offer, and pinpoint the results that will add value to their business.
However, don’t get bogged down in the details.
Talk far more about the results they will have than about how you will do the work.
Focus on explaining how those results will add value to their business.
This will communicate that you have their best interests in mind and are focused on helping them achieve their business goals.
Then, they will feel more comfortable partnering with you, and you’ll have begun to build your client base.
Clients will feel more confident developing a partnership with you if they understand how your business will add value to theirs. Tweet this
This doesn’t necessarily mean they understand the technicalities of your business.
They don’t need to comprehend all the ins-and-outs of how you do what you do.
Often, they don’t care about how something gets done. They just want to know they are working with someone who can solve their problems.
Focus on explaining how you will add value to their business, rather than how you’ll do the technical work.
Begin to think about this potential business relationship from their perspective. What problems are they encountering? What issues are holding them back from true success?
What products and services can you offer to address their problems and issues?
Again, this reinforces the idea of listening closely and asking clarifying questions. Listening closely and asking the right questions can help you get inside their mind and figure out what they need to hear.
Then, you can talk about the products and services you offer in ways that resonate with them and build the idea that you can add value to their business.
You may be tempted to use technical jargon or over-complicate explanations of your work to demonstrate how knowledgeable you are.
Complicated and technical language the client doesn’t understand can make them feel foolish or inferior. It breaks rapport and trust rather than building it.
If they don’t understand you or they feel foolish talking to you, they won’t WANT to talk to you.
Avoid technical language that could confuse the client, and opt to use terminology everyone knows.
If you must use a technical term, explain it in a way that anyone could easily understand.
Above all else, communicate with potential clients in a way that makes them feel smart, confident, and comfortable.
Offering examples of work you have completed with other clients gives potential clients a sense of what you can accomplish and what you may be able to do.
If possible, provide a wide scope of your products and services so that they see a comprehensive picture of your business.
This will help them envision how you can add value to their business that may be beyond what they need right now.
Don’t worry if you do not have examples of exactly what they envision.
Hand them other examples of your work and explain in simple language how and why your skills transfer.
Craft the vision for them.
Some clients have an extremely narrow view of what they think they want for their business. Don’t dismiss their vision, but try to add to it by using examples of your previous work.
If you are confident in your work and vision, they’ll feel and respond to it.
You should also provide recommendations and testimonials from previous clients to set them at ease and build their confidence.
Potential clients want to know that other people are happy with the work you’ve done. They want to see evidence of value-added work.
Clients will feel more convinced to develop a partnership with you if they know that you are committed to their future success. Tweet this
Selling means convincing.
But, let’s face it. Clients face a lot of competing offers for their business.
Your commitment and your ability to maintain a long-term mindset will make all the difference in whether or not your freelance business succeeds.
What does this commitment look like?
Most of the time, the hardest sale is the first one, and sometimes, it takes awhile to clinch that first sale.
It is about forging relationships, building trust, and understanding the client’s true needs and vision, which requires patience and time.
Don’t become discouraged.
Once a client trusts you and believes you can deliver what you promise, they’ll come back again and again.
So, focus on building a strong relationship with the client rather than just focusing on getting them to agree on a single project.
Be clear that you are committed to the long-term success of their business, and in doing so, you will ensure the long-term success of your own.
People will raise objections all the time. They’ll object that your proposals are too expensive or will take too long to complete.
They may be unsure or hesitant about whether you can do what you say you’ll do.
That’s okay. Keep a long-term mindset.
You don’t want this client to hire you for just one project. You want to create a loyal client who will return for your services multiple times.
Their objections usually aren’t personal. Instead, they come from the client’s fears or simply from a lack of experience and short-sighted vision.
It’s not easy to spend money and put your trust in someone.
Remember that these objections are an opportunity to learn more about them and their business needs.
So, don’t take objections personally. Rather, respond with empathy, grace, kindness, and understanding. Give the client the space and time to consider your ideas and business.
In doing so, you’ll be showing them that you are committed to helping them solve their problems, building a long-term plan with them, and adding value to their business.
As with every skill, the more you do it, the better you will get at doing it.
Everything we have talked about so far improves with practice.
There’s no getting around it. Even “the greats” (in sports, comedy, music - you name it) know that practice is essential to improving.
As a rule of thumb, aim to conduct 100 client meetings as quickly as possible. That may sound daunting, but it’s easier than you think.
To get you started, here are some tips for [Where to Find Your First Customer]*(/post/where-to-find-your-first-customer/).
By the time you’ve presented your services to 100 people, you’ve heard just about everything you’ll ever hear, and you’ll be better equipped to handle client objections, anticipate and answer questions, and feel comfortable in almost any situation.
Learning how to get better at sales is a skill that you can develop by focusing on a few key ideas.
First, focus on building relationships with potential clients so that they feel comfortable partnering with you because they trust you to have their best interests in mind.
You can build relationships and trust by opening up personally, listening and asking questions, and focusing on results.
Second, make your business accessible to potential clients so that they are confident that what you have to offer will add value to their business.
Accessibility and confidence are created when you understand the client’s perspective, use language that they understand, and provide examples and recommendations of your work.
Third, keep a long-term mindset that demonstrates your commitment to clients so that they are convinced that partnering with you will bring them long-term success.
A long-term mindset means you acknowledge that selling is a long-term game, you handle clients’ objections graciously, and you keep practicing to get better at sales.
Selling your services doesn’t mean being forceful or aggressive with potential clients.
You are selling a partnership. Set the tone by treating your client with kindness and empathy.
If you lead with your heart, you’ll feel good about selling yourself, come across as genuine and honest, and build trust with potential clients.
As you watch your client base grow, you will become more confident and feel good about selling your services as a freelancer.
Thanks for reading!