Winning new clients: A freelancer’s guide to meaningful sales conversations
As a freelancer, winning new clients is key to your success. But it’s not just about how good you are at your job. A big part of the puzzle is how you talk to potential clients. You don’t need to be pushy or flood their inboxes with messages. What really works is making real, meaningful connections with them. This guide is all about helping you talk to potential clients in a way that’s genuine and effective. It’s not just about selling your services; it’s about building trust and understanding with each conversation, setting the foundation for lasting work relationships.
A common challenge
Fortunately, you’re in good company. Numerous consultants realise the need to enhance their sales strategies due to frequent errors that often occur, like:
- Unfocused social media interaction: Avoid generic posts. Tailor your content to add real value to your audience
- Preparation is key: Understand your client’s needs and goals thoroughly
- Discussing fees with confidence: Maintain your pricing structure while being open to negotiation
- The balance of persuasion: Be persuasive, not pushy. Understand your client’s boundaries
- Clarify your intent: Ensure clients know why you’re reaching out and how you can help them
The reality is, there are many ways a sales conversation can go off track, and many consultants slip up while talking to a potential client. It’s important to have the confidence to switch up your strategy during the conversation if you feel things aren’t going as planned.
Give meaning to your approach
When initiating meaningful sales conversations, there are several recognised approaches that most successful consultants use in their sales activities.
The seven steps outlined below can help in this regard:
Before you can even think about asking questions or offering your services you need to build a connection with your prospect. If you are pleasant and focus on connection development, your sales talks will go a lot more smoothly. The best way to engage with a prospect is through common ground. Do your research and find out about your prospect to establish a connection.
Building rapport can be a challenge, but there are a few tips you can use to get ahead of the game:
- Be attentive
- Have a conversation starter
- Understand the needs of your potential client
- Listen before speaking
- Use humour where appropriate
- Ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of your offering and how you help to improve their business.
Discover and learn
If you have ever read any sales advice, you will know that you need to ask questions in order to identify the prospect’s ambitions. What most guidance does not cover is how to harness the power of these ambitions. What are the goals and obstacles that stand in the way of achieving these ambitions? By learning more you will start to crystallise your sales opportunity.
Some questions to ask include:
- What are your goals and objectives?
- What’s your budget?
- What does the competitive landscape look like and how are you unique?
- Why are you hiring a consultant?
- What is your timeline?
- What challenges have you faced to date?
- What is the decision process for approval of work?
Balance active enquiry and listening
Sales conversations necessitate both give and take. You must engage the prospect in order to thoroughly comprehend their challenges.
You must also take what the prospect says and provide ideas to showcase your expertise. Balance how much you say and how much you listen. In this way you can manage the conversation and set the agenda.
Make your pitch
You can do everything else well, but if the prospect does not understand the value of your solution (and you must be extremely explicit about that value) and the impact it will have, you will be unsuccessful. Clarity and simplicity are vital in this regard.
Promote a new vision
This is related to points 2 and 4. Once you understand the prospect’s ambitions, frame a vision of how you can help them in this regard. This is your call to action. Helping them see different possibilities is a powerful part of the sales conversation. It is what many sales professional call the ‘aha’ moment of the sales conversation.
Trust is everything
The basis of sales success is trust. If a prospect does not trust you, they will not open up and reveal their needs.
Trust unavoidably takes time to build – you may therefore need to engage in multiple sales conversation with a prospect.
Building trust and maintaining pre and post-sales trust is critical to building a sustainable business. Client testimonials and examples of work are one way to build pre-sales trust. Once a relationship has been established, meeting deadlines, staying on budget, open communication and a high standard of work go a long way to maintaining that trust.
Bank the learnings
Has your pitch and future vision secured a new client? Congratulations! Enjoy the moment and when you are done take the time to put together notes on the sales strategy you adopted and why it was successful – this can help you keep sales momentum.
Conversely, if it seems like you have lost a prospect for good, not all is necessarily lost! If you are offering good value and solutions, you just need to adjust your approach to get the message across.
Make some notes on the experience and try to pinpoint the instance in the sales conversation where you ‘lost’ the prospect. This is a powerful learning experience you can put to use in the future.
There is no fool proof approach to sales conversations. However, adopting a more structured approach where you plan and give thought to sales conversations will ultimately help you build your client base and increase sales.