3 Simple Ways For Freelancers To Improve Their Sales Skillse_darrellj | Jul 29, 2015
Here are some thoughts for freelancers, from Al Davidson -- founder of Strategic Sales & Marketing.
Freelancers and solo consultants don’t often think of themselves as “sales people” but the truth is, in addition to having solid skills in your professional craft, you also need to be able to sell your services and keep building relationships with clients to establish a solid base of ongoing business opportunities. Unfortunately, many freelancers never get any formal training in how to sell. Especially if you’ve never worked in sales before – if you’ve always had a corporate job where your work was part of a larger process where you might never have been responsible for managing customer relationships or closing deals – being a successful “freelance sales person” can be a bit of an adjustment.
Here are a few tips for how to improve your sales skills on Upwork and in “real life” outside of the Internet:
1. First engage, then sell.
When you post a bid on an Upwork project or send an email to a new client prospect, are you trying too hard to close the deal right away with the very first contact? This is a common mistake: freelancers often throw in everything but the kitchen sink into their first proposal, resulting in information overload for the client, and often, wasted effort for the freelancer.
Instead of launching into a 1,000 word epic about why you’re the right freelancer for the project, start by introducing yourself and responding to a few key points from the client’s project description to show that you actually read it and are paying attention and are eager to help address the client’s key challenges.
Your goal is not to win the project with that first email – sometimes you will, but mostly you won’t. Instead, your goal is to get a reply from the client – and start building a relationship with them that will eventually lead to a sale.
2. Do something everyday to market and sell your services.
What have you done today to try to get a new project or client? Whether it’s bidding on Upwork job postings, sending emails to existing customers, posting on social media to ask your friends and family for referrals, or even cold-calling companies in your area to see if they need freelance help, there are many things you can do everyday to keep your sales momentum going. Sales never stop! Even for freelancers. You need to take a few small steps every day to keep generating new opportunities that lead to big wins down the road.
3. Relentlessly self-edit.
Take a hard look at your Elance or Upwork profile page. Is it focused enough? Is it coherent? Is it, dare I say, fun to read? Do you have relevant work samples in your portfolio? Can clients immediately look at your profile and portfolio and get a sense of what you’re like to work with and what is your best work? If not, keep working to clarify and enhance the quality of your Upwork profile.
A good way to do this is to look at other profiles from other freelancers that you admire, and emulate their profiles, but with your own unique personality and details that are specific to you. (And of course it should go without saying, but NO PLAGIARISM. If you copy other people’s key selling points and self-descriptions, you will end up damaging your reputation.) Have you seen certain other freelancers showing up (and winning) a lot of the same projects that you’ve been bidding on? If so, take a few minutes to check out their profile and see what they might be doing differently to sell their services. You might get some great ideas for formatting and presenting your own story of why clients should hire you.
Ultimately, freelancing is another form of business-to-business (B2B) sales. You’re selling a professional service that adds value and saves time and money for businesses – and if you learn how to present your key selling points and build relationships in a consistent, generous way, you’ll be more likely to keep winning projects and making sales.
About the Author
Al Davidson is the founder of Strategic Sales & Marketing, one of the industry-founding lead generation companies, helping to deliver B2B lead generation and appointment setting solutions for global clients ranging from local small businesses to the Fortune 100. The company’s appointment setters have generated over 7 million new sales leads, and created millions of dollars in new revenue for clients. You can learn more about Al Davidson by visiting www.manageyourleads.com.
Window photo courtesy of Evan Bench