The 4-Step Sales Process For Freelancers
When it comes to your craft, you’re thoughtful and detailed.
You take pride in that–just like any true craftsman does.
But are you like that with your selling?
Do you put as much thought into your selling process as you do your work?
Ouch! Feeling guilty yet?
Freelancers around the world are guilty of neglecting their selling process.
It’s even worse with introverts–they not only neglect it, they sometimes hate selling, which means they work against themselves.
Yeah, you might feel awkward selling. Maybe selling drains you. Perhaps selling is your least favorite part of freelancing.
But the fact is your freelance business will die without a healthy selling process.Selling is the lifeline of your business. Stop neglecting it! Click To Tweet
In this article, I’ll walk through the four steps that make up a good sales process for freelancers.
Before we dig into the process itself, let’s talk about why you should learn it.
Why learn a sales process?
Many introverts are super talented, creative, and skillful in their crafts. But talent, creativity, and skill sadly aren’t enough to build a freelance business.
I have friends who are way more talented than I am. Many of them have spent years trying to start their own business without any success. Some have a business but are stuck with low-priced projects–even with all their awesome skills.
On the other hand, I have friends who aren’t as talented but are decent in their crafts. Yet they’re living every freelancer’s dream: They have the freedom to decide when, where, how, and with who they work.
So, what’s the difference between creatives who succeed and the ones who fail in business?
Yup, you guessed it.
Their sales process is the key difference.
Creatives who succeed in freelancing have a solid sales process.
What? Is the key difference really that simple?
Absolutely.A good sales process teaches a creative how to build a business. Click To Tweet
Of course, a person’s confidence, personality, and belief matter. But that’s not what this article is about.
This article is about understanding the sales process, which is made up of four actionable steps:
- Position – Attracting your ideal clients.
- Prospect – Connecting with your ideal clients.
- Convert – Turning ideal clients into real clients.
- Improve – Repeating the process more efficiently.
Okay, now let’s dig in.
Step 1: Position – Attracting your ideal clients
The first step of the sales process for freelancers is positioning your business to attract your ideal clients.
But to do that, you’ll need:
- A solid niche.
- A clear understanding of who your ideal client is.
This information can be difficult to get hold of because a lot of it is inside of your own head.
Only you can pick your niche and ideal client. No one will choose either of them for you.
This is a major struggle for creatives–especially when all kinds of people want to hire them for cheap for all kinds of projects.You must be willing to say no so that every yes has a real impact on your business. Click To Tweet
There’s a lot of power when you’re picky about what you take on.
When I started to say “no” to everything outside of the niche and ideal client I chose, I never sold a project under $15,000–many of them were priced much higher than that.
But you can only do that when you intentionally position yourself for that.
I promise you, once you’ve chosen your niche and ideal client, you’ll gain clarity in your business.
You’ll begin to attract your ideal clients by making all the right decisions. And the best part is that you’ll do it intuitively.
Pretty awesome, huh?
Positioning yourself to be awesome will tax your brain, but it’s so worth it.
Step 2: Prospect – Connecting with your ideal clients
After choosing your niche and ideal client, it’s time to find and connect with them–this is exactly what it prospecting is.Prospecting is finding and connecting with your ideal clients. Click To Tweet
Prospecting can be intimidating for introverts since it involves starting conversations with strangers.
The key for introverts to prospect effectively is to have confidence. And your confidence will dramatically increase when you’ve got a handle on two things:
- You understand your ideal client inside and out.
- You’re methodical in how you find and connect with your ideal client.
Once you’ve got a grasp on those two things, prospecting becomes easy breezy.
You’ll learn how to identify real prospects and stop wasting time with people you’ll never do business with.
A real prospect is a person who:
- Has a need or want for your services.
- Has the power to make the decision to hire you.
Seriously, stop wasting time with fake prospects!
Learn to build rapport and value early on with the right people.
Again, this is all part of studying your ideal client.
(The Freelance Selling for Introverts course teaches how to get a 360 view of who your client is, see the end of this blog post for more info).
I recently met with a friend who struggled with this step in a different aspect.
She hated prospecting.
She didn’t like the pressure she felt when meeting new people. Not only that, but she felt like she spent too much time and effort on people who weren’t serious about doing business with her.
After asking her what her approach was, we came to the conclusion that she was trying to get people to make a decision too soon.
So, we devised a better prospecting plan for her.
After digging into experiences with her past clients, we discovered that the people who hired her typically met with her at least twice before agreeing to an actual sales meeting.
This piece of information changed everything for her.
Now, when she first meets a potential client, her goal is to schedule another meeting with them before mentioning a sales meeting.
As a result, there’s less pressure on her (and her prospect) to make a transaction. It gives enough breathing room for them to get acquainted and comfortable with each other.
(Sounds a lot like dating, huh? It’s true!)
She’s a prospecting rockstar now.
To summarize, your main goal when prospecting is to 1) identify real prospects and 2) schedule a sales meeting with them.
Sometimes, that happens during the first meeting. But it will more likely happen over a series of meetings–it really depends on the type of projects you’re selling.
Understanding the main goal of prospecting relieves some of the pressure you might feel when connecting with strangers. It also helps you become a lot more methodical in this step.
Step 3: Convert – Turning ideal clients into real clients
When people think about selling, they usually think about this step.
I don’t blame them.
Step 3 is the climax of this sales process–it’s where you turn ideal clients into real clients.
You’ll usually convert prospects into clients through one or more sales meetings–these can take place in person or through a video/phone call.
The rhythm and conversation you have in a sales meeting are dictated by how effective you were in prior steps of the sales process.
When you’ve positioned and prospected effectively, sales meetings are the easy part.
Imagine feeling completely confident and in control during a sales meeting.
I once Skyped with a reader to help him figure out why he was failing in sales meetings.
“I get so nervous during sales meetings.”
“Why?” I asked.
“I have a hard time reading people. I have no clue if they’re interested in hiring me or not, which sucks because I’m not the best at selling myself. I practically sweat during the entire meeting. It sucks!” he said with frustration.
“I think we found your problem. You’re going to these meetings with the wrong mindset.” I told him.
I went on to explain what I’m about to share with you:
Freelancers who are great at selling don’t go into sales meetings wondering if their prospects will hire them.
On the contrary, these freelancers are convinced that who they’re meeting with clearly want to hire them. It’s just a matter of figuring out the details.
Do you see how different your sales meetings would be with that kind of mindset?
Your behavior changes completely.
Your questions become more focused. You learn what your clients really value and then can set prices accordingly.
Things like presenting your pricing, writing project contracts, and getting them signed becomes intuitive.
Sales meetings are really about extracting the right details. And by extracting the right details, you and your prospect will feel confident about a transaction between each other.When you’ve positioned and prospected effectively, sales meetings are the easy part. Click To Tweet
If you have a solid sales process, you can be confident that whoever agrees to a sales meeting wants and maybe even needs to hire you.
Step 4: Improve – Repeating the process more efficiently
So you’ve sold a project. Now what? Does it end there?
It’s time for you to squeeze out the last bit of juice of the sales process.
You can do this by repeating the process but with more efficiency.
Don’t confuse being effective with being efficient.
Being effective means you can produce an intended result.
Being efficient means you achieve the intended result in the least amount of time and effort.Don’t confuse being effective with being efficient. Click To Tweet
The difference is subtle but has a major impact!
Efficiency is your goal in this last step.
This means you’ll need to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t working in your selling process.
Are there tools that can help you automate some of the horse work of selling? If so, which tools fit your process best?
Can you change up the implementation of some of the steps? Maybe you can entirely eliminate some tasks (not steps) that aren’t working.
You’ll learn to double down on your strengths and eliminate your weak points in this step.
The great thing about existing clients is that they can help you repeat this process.
Your client already trusts you, so ask for leads and referrals.
Don’t miss out on potential business!
If your client is awesome, then you’ll want to work with more of their types. Chances are that your client hangs out or does business with people just like them.
Once you’ve got the leads and referrals, repeat your selling process but be more efficient in it.
Selling 101 For Introverted Freelancers
The sales process for freelancers: Position, Prospect, Convert, and Improve happens in every successful freelance business.
Imagine being booked for most of the year? Or how about consistently selling 5-digit projects? What about taking a month or two off to travel?
These are the kinds of things that can become a reality for you–but you’ll need a solid sales process.
That’s why I created Selling 101 for Introverted Freelancers. It’s a free crash course that teaches you the sales process from an introvert’s perspective.
Take The Free Crash Course
Learn a proven 4-step sales process that will make your selling efforts count.
Get 4 short videos discussing how to tackle selling as an introvert.