The theory and practice of sales was the first thing I have learnt on my journey of becoming a full-time freelancer. I can’t stress enough how important that was. First, you learn the skill: videography, graphic design, copywriting, programming, e-commerce and so on but then you need to learn how to sell what you can offer.
Learn from the best but recognize what suits your style
Some people like assertive selling, pushy selling or soft selling or brand building selling. If you don’t feel comfortable with following up your lead every week and you feel like it’s something you don’t want to do, don’t worry! I can tell you exactly how to solve this.
First step you should take is to read the book by Grant Cardone Sell or be sold. Many people don’t like this guy because he’s flexing, showing off and he’s all about the money. But I’m not saying marry him, I’m saying just read his book. There will be things you don’t agree with but there will be a lot of things that will open your eyes. Take whatever you need from that book and align it with your personality and style.
There are many ways you can sell as I mentioned briefly already. Let’s recognize which selling style will suit you the best. Have a look at these examples and pick one that fits with your personality:
Assertive, passionate selling
You are convinced that your lead really needs your products and service because you will make their business blow up. You will help them get new clients and improve their visual presentation (or whatever you offer). That is why you tell them with no sugar coating that they need you and if they tell you they don’t have a budget, you explain to them that they need to find the money because they need to innovate and can’t stand still. You’re not willing to leave until you make a sale. If they still say no, you call them the next day until they either buy or block you. This style is very pushy but it doesn’t mean it’s bad.
Pros: Your sales percentage might be higher because you really do follow up; you can make sales on the spot, getting money right away
Cons: Some clients might block you; some clients might not want to buy from you anymore if they don’t see big results as you promised them
I called this soft selling because it is quite the opposite of the selling style mentioned above. Soft selling is when you talk to your lead and you don’t say directly that they should hire you, but you go around it suggesting that it would help them if they had some videos made for social media. You start saying the advantages of videos in terms of SEO, reach, engagement and you plant the idea in their head that they need your services.
Of course, I’m saying this in a very honest way only if I really believe that the business needs my help but they don’t know about it. This is a very easy and not pushy approach which I believe anyone can do.
Pros: Building a relationship with clients; potential recurring sales for the future; lifelong client
Cons: Not fully following up might lower your sales; longer process of getting money
This approach or the Assertive selling is not about convincing someone who doesn’t need your services that they need it. I’m trying to explain and make you understand that when you see a potential of someone needing your products or services, then you try to sell them. Only if you truly believe in helping your client with your products or services you can comfortably sell even for a higher price without any bad feelings.
Some clients just need a push before they invest. I encouraged many potential clients just to film videos themselves and publish stories on social media. I explained to them the importance of it and all the benefits and they appreciated the value I gave them.
And they also appreciated that I didn’t try to convince them that they need a £500 monthly package in order to publish videos on their social media. But guess what, they will buy from me later on and maybe even a £500 package because I gained their trust and they know I try to help them first and money comes second.
If I jumped right away telling them that they can’t film anything themselves and they just need to buy my services, I might make a sale but they would be definitely under pressure, expecting huge results right away. Some people take steps back when you jump to the price and they can see you just go for the sale and you don’t care about their company. Even if it’s not true, they will most probably think so based on their previous experience with sales people.
I call this brand selling because this method basically doesn’t involve direct selling at all. So if you’re not comfortable in any of the mentioned selling styles, you can apply brand selling. But be aware that you still have to use the method above from time to time. By brand selling I mean building a brand which basically makes people buy your stuff without you looking for clients and trying to sell it to them.
Example: you have a Youtube channel and you make videos about how you cook. You create awesome healthy recipes which you give away for free, giving value to viewers. In the description of your videos there is a link to your website and your new ebook about healthy nutrition. And people like your video, appreciate the free value and information and they decide to buy your book or hire you for a private garden party. This example can apply for any kind of business on any kind of social media.
Pros: you don’t basically need to sell or convince people to buy
Cons: it is a long-term game, it will take a lot of time (months, years) to build a brand which converts
Let’s make one more thing clear. When someone calls you or emails you that they need a video production, you tell them a price and they say yes — that is not selling. That is negotiating. Sometimes it doesn’t happen but selling to me is when you can spark an interest for your products and service in someone when they’re not thinking about hiring you.
This naturally leads me to a big part of the selling process, but not always, which is negotiating. I would say there are these types of clients:
- The ones that don’t want to bother with negotiating at all and they will agree to the first price you give them (the price has to be reasonable of course and they need to trust you, this usually happens when they know you or someone recommends you to them)
- The ones that won’t agree with your first price but they just want 20% off and then they agree
- The ones who will never agree on your first price and they want you to go down by half (sometimes happens when you lower the price and they tell you it’s still too high)
- The ones that want it for free or almost free
The clients who are not negotiating are the best of course. This scenario happens more often when you have made a name for yourself and people start recommending you. Another group which wants one small discount is also not a problem. The way you negotiate with them is simple, you just tell them that you really gave them a very good price and they will say they just want you to go a little lower that’s all. You agree of course and they do appreciate it.
The last two groups are pain in the ass. I would not recommend working with any of them HOWEVER when you start out, you don’t really have a choice, do you? You need to pay your bills and you must go through the worst clients you can imagine. Naturally, if you don’t have any local portfolio and contacts, you need to build it. Meaning, working for free as favours in return for a review and testimonial. If you do something for free, I would definitely ask for a video testimonial as they’re much more effective because there is an actual person saying the things. It is much more trustworthy and helps you get clients that will pay you.
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You can read more stories and advice from my freelance life in my latest e-book: Freelancer’s Diary — Learn from my biggest mistakes