This is the story of one of the worst sales calls I’ve ever been part of. Before you get too concerned, let me explain: I was on a call with a guy trying to sell a solution to me. I think we can all learn from this guy’s mistakes as we consider our own processes when talking to freelance clients on the phone.
First of all, I enjoy taking part in webinars or sales calls so I can find out what new and exciting things are out there. I’m not all-knowing, and there’s always lots to learn (and to pass along to students). That’s why I got on this call. Unfortunately, things started out awkward, and went downhill from there.
Maybe it will help if I backtrack and set the stage.
Steps to Take With Freelance Clients on the Phone
You are probably going to have to spend at least a bit of time with your freelance clients on the phone. And every single call that happens before you secure the work is, essentially, a sales call. The goal of the call is to sell them on you as a service provider.
(I happen to think that every call with a client is a sales call, but that’s another topic.)
There are a few key components that help sales calls go smoothly:
- Build rapport by asking friendly questions.
- Establish the baseline. Find out where the client is right now and what their goals are.
- Get to the deeper need. Figure out what’s missing in their business and provide a solution to bridge that gap.
- Explain your role and how their business will benefit from hiring you.
Each of these steps is important. And this kid who was leading the call (yeah, I’m calling him a kid even though he was the salesperson because he used unprofessional slang like “sweet”) got through each one.
He built rapport with me by talking about Boston (where I live). He asked good questions about my business. And he tried to help me “imagine what life would be like…” While he didn’t give me too many particulars about the program, I had a sense of what he was offering as a solution.
Unfortunately, this is where he abruptly stopped.
Him: “So, how are you feeling?”
Me: “Uhhh..what do you mean?”
Him: “You know. How are you feeling about…all of this?”
What, exactly, was he asking me? How was he expecting me to respond?
The Most Important Part of the Call
I couldn’t help but laugh at this point. This salesperson had somehow decided to skip over the single most important aspect of the call.
We’d been on the phone for 30 minutes, and he’d taken me through the journey. But he wasn’t actually going to ask for the sale.
Do you know the absolute easiest way to lose a sale? To not ask for it in the first place.
Many people—probably this guy included—are too afraid to ask the most important question of all. Yes, it might be scary to talk to freelance clients on the phone in the first place, and perhaps it’s intimidating to make that ask.
But your would-be client is not going to hire you unless you ask for the work. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Discuss the project(s) you pitched. It can be as simple as: “I will take a look at all my notes and put together a detailed quote and get that to you by the end of day. I’ve also got time in my schedule to get started next week. Do you want to move forward with that?”
If your service to the company is worth being paid for, it’s worth asking for the job.
Learn from the unfortunate mistakes of this salesperson:
- Don’t leave the person on the other end of the line wondering what you’re selling.
- Don’t make them ask you what they can buy from you.
- And don’t expect them to dig deeper about the details and cost. You need to cover that.
If they get irritated that you’re beating around the bush, then it’s very unlikely you’ll make the sale.
When you’re talking to freelance clients on the phone, focus on the benefits of working with you. Be confident in your offer. Because if they’re not confident in your offer and you’re not confident in yourself, then very few people are going to hire you.
Your turn! Have you ever been on a bad sales call? What happened? Let us know in the comments below!