Sales is a classic method to grow any business. It’s tried-and-true. A proven process that, when done right, leads to an increase in revenue. It’s not complicated. So why do most freelancers struggle to use sales and cold outreach to land more clients?
We’re going to explore 5 things that hold back most freelancers from using sales and what you can do to overcome them. Let’s go!
If you're new to sales, you might be wondering, "Where do I even start?" Most freelancers don't have a lot of sales experience. That's OK. You don't need to be a sales pro. In the end, sales is just one of the many hats you'll wear as a freelancer (along with accounting, HR, IT, production, and everything else). So, let's keep it simple. Here's the step-by-step basics you'll need to do to start using sales to grow your business:
You don't need sales training or fancy tricks to get started. You just need a product or service to offer, a pool of potential customers, and an email account. With only that, you can start going after the new clients you want.
🔑 Key: You don't have to be a professional salesman to do sales. Focus on keeping it simple.
You have a million things on your plate. Where are you going to find time to source leads and nurture them into new projects?
We get it, you're busy. It’s a struggle to balance all the demands of life, your existing client work, and find time to go get new ones. But, this is where a little technology makes things easy. Here are a couple ways you can save time:
Sales doesn’t have to take up a ton of time. Once things are setup, you only need to spend a few minutes every day or 1-2 hours per week to start seeing the benefits.
🔑 Key: You may have to invest a little time upfront, but once set up right, it will pay off in the long run.
A common mistake is to oversell. We've all received one of those bad cold sales emails. It's all about them and what they are selling. It feels like you were one of thousands of people this email was sent to. Don't worry. You don't have to do sales that way.
First, start by not selling. Remember that your clients have problems and needs that you want to solve. Focus on them, not you. Consider ways that you can add value before offering services. What can you give someone that would help them? What would your potential client benefit from that you can offer up for free? Find a way to be helpful and you'll be sure to win some good will.
Remember that everyone is busy. No one is going to read a long formal sales email. Instead, consider being casual and brief. Since you're not trying to sell something, you can instead focus on building a relationship. Use this guide on cold email templates from SumoMe.
🔑 Key: Remember that you are building a relationship. Be brief, personal, and add value before selling. You are not trying to close the deal. Focus on getting a reply. That's the first step to closing a deal.
No. It’s a word you’re going to hear a lot in sales. And for a lot of freelancers, it’s a tough one to hear. But if you want to grow using sales, you have to accept that you are going to be rejected— a lot. And guess what? That’s OK.
With sales, you are only going to win a small percentage of new projects. You should expect to hear nothing or "no" 9 out of 10 times. But, that means 1 out of 10 could lead to a new project. And, if done well, that project could mean another long-term client, which has the potential to end up as a big WIN.
You may need to toughen up. Don't get your feelings hurt when you get a no. Instead accept it, move on, and go close the next deal.
🔑 Key: Expect to be rejected 9 out of 10 times—and that's OK. That 1 out of ten could become a new client.
You sent a cold email, no response. Now what? Follow up! You don’t have to spam or pester (no used car salesman), but you do have to continue to reach out. Sales is a bit like fishing, you have to keep casting the line out to get a bite. You can't catch a fish if you're line is not in the water. Following up and staying top of mind ensures that when a potential new client needs something they think of you. Sales is a process. It will take time. Don't get discouraged if it takes several weeks or even months to start seeing results.
This is where you can put your automation to work. Consider creating a system that automatically follows up if you don't get a reply. Try using an email campaign. Or schedule reminders to follow up after a certain period of time. The goal is to keep fishing until you get a bite.
🔑 Key: Sales requires consistent follow-through to see results.
If you've always wondered about trying sales, don't let any of the reasons above stop you. Sales is a valuable skill that anyone can learn, use, and benefit from. It is just one of the tools in your growth toolset as a freelancer. If you're looking for a way to grow your freelance business long-term, outside your existing network, I'd strongly suggest giving sales a try.