Advanced Freelancing

Learn more about freelancing and owning your business and your time from six-figure freelancer Laura Pennington.
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Sep 28, 2020

Are potential clients excited to work with you after presenting them your offer?  In this episode you’ll learn how to create an offer that your client cannot refuse, make it a win for you and a win for the client, and increase your ability to charge a little bit more for your package.

You’ll hear examples of irresistible offers and learn how to use them to keep existing clients happy and continuing to renew their contract.

Here are some things we covered in this episode:

  • How irresistible offers tip the scales in your favor and make clients want to work with you
  • Eliminate the psychological barriers clients have to overcome to work with you that very first time
  • Creating an upsell product in your offer
  • Why you should think strategically during the sales call and when packaging your offer
  • How to map out your irresistible offer
  • Ways to thank ongoing clients for their long service together
  • Why you should talk over your offer with another freelancer or your business coach

After listening to this episode, share your action steps and take-aways with our group:

Mastering Your Freelance Life With Laura

Connect With Laura:

Follow Laura on Facebook

Join Laura’s Community

Subscribe to the Podcast

Subscribe to Laura’s YouTube Channel

Read the Transcript:

Hey, it's that time for another episode of the advanced freelancing podcast, today's topic is creating an irresistible offer. Now an irresistible offer is exactly what it sounds like. It's something that is so enticing for your client to want to work with you. That they're going to have a really hard time passing it up. Now you can use an irresistible offer really at any point during the freelance sales cycle with your client. But there are some times when it performs a little better than in other cases. So an irresistible offer is one of the most meaningful things that you can use when you're early on in the sales process with a client who doesn't know, like, or trust you already, there are a lot of psychological barriers they have to overcome to work with you that very first time. And so to tip the scales in your favor, one of the things you can do is present them with an irresistible offer where they have a lot to gain and very little to lose.

This makes them excited about working with you, and it doesn't lock them into a long term relationship when they're not yet sure if this is going to be a good fit. Now using this like a sample job or a test job showcases your ability and your communication skills with the client, where it's a total no brainer for all of your other packages to continue working with you. So one irresistible offer can create another, and that is why these irresistible offers work so well with a client that is maybe on the fence about signing a bigger retainer or signing a huge project. Let me give you an example of an irresistible offer for a content writer. I have used this many times as the sample project or test job with my freelance writing clients, I offer to create a set number of blogs. So there is a clear output or deliverable that they're going to use, which is something we've talked about in our sales process together, me and the client, but then I'm also going to create something like titles for their next two blog posts or a one-month editorial calendar.


Now this works on a couple of different levels. First of all, it's essentially an upsell product. If I'm just giving them the initial blogs as the key deliverable, that's something they can take and run with, but I'm including additional material that makes it a big value add for them to sign on with me, but it also gives them the sense of, Hey, if she's creating an editorial calendar and these other blog materials, we're going to get what we need. And even if we decide this isn't the right fit, we have our next couple of weeks of blogging material planned out. So this is a win, win for the client because they know that they, even if they don't have the best experience with me, for whatever reason, they're still going to have something, a piece of the project that is valuable for them to use when this is priced the right way and takes a lot of work off of their plate.


It becomes an irresistible offer. They stand to gain a lot and lose very little if they lose because they don't like my writing style or something like that. They're still leaving with an editorial calendar or keyword research or photos that they can use in the blogs that they rewrite or some other suggestion, right? You can do a content audit would be another example of something that you could include along with your initial package. This also pushes the price up that you're charging the client because you're doing more than just giving them that key set of deliverable product at the end. So you stand to gain a lot here and risk very little on your end because you're not locked into a long contract with the client. Now, normally I'd recommend once you find a great client to work with, you want to stick with them.


You want to get them on retainer. You want to work with them as frequently as possible, but in these early stages, sometimes clients who've presented themselves as great fits really aren't that great of a fit. Once you have the chance to work together, I've seen this with a lot of my six figure coaching clients. They will work with a client that they're very excited to bring on at the beginning, but then it turns out that that team is really dysfunctional or the client never reviews the work product. And it really slows the freelancer's workflow down, or there's a lot of turnover at the company. And so the freelancer never knows who they're reporting to. Those type of systemic issues can be really frustrating for freelancers. And even if the client is giving you projects that you love and you enjoy creating the deliverables, if those issues are bad enough on the system side, it can make you wish you'd never taken on the project at all.


So the irresistible offer is designed to be a win for you, but also a win for the client because you can walk away and the client can walk away after completing the irresistible offer. And there's no harm, no foul, right? But having that upsell built into it is going to increase your ability to charge a little bit more and know that even if this doesn't pan out for the long run, you have been compensated fairly for a valuable project that the client can use at the end, if they decide not to work with you again. So as you can imagine, pricing of your irresistible offer is really important coming in out of the gate and saying, here's what I can do for $6,000. When the client just talked about a handful of things that wouldn't really cost that much, that's not going to go over that well.


So we want to also have this product competitively priced. Now I don't mean cheaply priced. I don't mean knock $200 or 15% off of your rate. The real purpose here is to have it competitively priced so that the client sees all of these sort of stacked value things that you're offering in the product and finds it even harder to back out of working with you because they see the potential of getting a lot out of that process. So this works really well when you're thinking about how do I get a client who's on the fence, or who seems really nervous about working with freelancers to tip over the edge and decide to work with me. So when you're mapping out your irresistible offer, think about complimentary services or deliverables that work really well with what you were going to propose anyways.  Don't add throw ways to this offer because that's not going to tip the scales in your favor.


The client has to like, even if the project falls apart, they're still going to walk away with something valuable that they can use. And so that's why things that are unrelated to your core service, but complimentary to the core service work really well. So for example, I wouldn't throw in one free blog post for my client as something that's part of an irresistible offer. It might convert a handful of people who could be interested in the feeling like they're getting something for free. That's a really difficult way to kick off your relationship because you're leading on price and they'll always be looking for a discount or getting something for free. Instead, I might include some other elements, like perhaps the copy to share it on social media, how this piece could be repurposed into a Facebook ad and a mini funnel for them that way they feel like they're getting dual purpose out of the material and I'm not throwing in something for free, right?


I'm charging accordingly, but I'm making sure they're going to get as much traction as possible out of the one thing that I am creating for them, I've seen a lot of website designers do this by adding on something really simple to their initial package. Their initial package includes the timeline and the pricing for them to build one website. But rather than just leaving it at that smart web designers add things like two weeks of email access to me after launch or a wrap up call 10 days after the website is pushed live to ask any remaining questions. And to have me train you on how to update things on your website, that's a super huge value add because it's not just about the deliverable. It amplifies the success of the deliverable, but it makes the client feel like they're getting a whole lot more. Now you're not going to come out and tell them, Oh, well, I would just do the website for 1500.


And if you add this other package, it's 1800, we're going to present the whole package together as one price for them to work with you on this initial project, it really puts their mind at ease and gives them confidence about your ability to complete the project. Ideally, the thing you're rolling into your irresistible offer as the value add is something that doesn't cost a lot of money or time for you to implement. So you don't want to pick, you don't want to say, well, I'm going to charge a hundred dollars more than I would for my base package. And I'm going to do a full content audit of their website and write up a four page report that isn't a good use of an upsell because it's not priced appropriately. So instead you want to think about how can adding this for adjustments to the price in the initial package, be a win for me and be a win for the client.


They're going to walk away with more tools or ability to interpret it or greater support access, or the ability to communicate with me and ask questions. And those are huge value adds that make it easier for them to use the end deliverable that they want. Now you can get a lot of information about what would be good to include in your irresistible offer by listening to the client on the phone, if there's concerns that they have, that the last freelancer was really hard to communicate with offer them 24 hour email turnaround service or something like that. That can be part of your initial project for as long as you're working together on this project. If that, that is their primary concern of how do I communicate with you? Are you going to answer me in a timely manner? That is an upsell that doesn't cost too much of your time.


So long as you've already identified, they're not going to push your communication boundaries, but it can be very valuable to the client. And it's super valuable to you because it doesn't involve too much extra work on your part to set up the parameters and boundaries of what that's going to look like. And ultimately for a client who is concerned about communication, that's going to be the perfect value add, which is what makes this offer so irresistible anyways. So here's the thing about irresistible offers. It's not that easy to create a templated one, unless you've sold tons and tons of them and you know what converts for your clients. So this isn't going to be as simple as saying, well, here's this irresistible offer that got one client to sign in five minutes. And so I'm just going to copy and paste and swap out the company's name in order to do it for a different client.


No, we're going to think strategically, what was the original project? What would make this be a bigger value add for the client? What would make them excited about signing on the dotted line? What did they say on the sales call that made me go, Hmm, that's an additional upsell. This client is going to see as a big value add and something that I should include in the proposal now, just because I've talked a lot about how this can be used with a brand new client doesn't mean that you can't use this. In other stages of the sales process, irresistible offers also work really well to thank ongoing clients for their long service together. I recently had the opportunity when working with a partner to put together a pretty substantial premium package for them to sign for all of the fourth quarter of the year. Now, the package in and of itself was really compelling, but one of the things they'd mentioned on the call was wanting to send one additional email.


And at the time that wouldn't have really fit in the schedule for the particular product that I was offering. But as I stepped back and realized that this has been a long term client who had recently done me a big favor, it gave me the opportunity to turn an original package that was compelling on its own into an irresistible offer. So after presenting the original package and thinking about this, I came back to the client when it had been a few days that I hadn't heard from them and said, Hey, I really want to thank you for your continued service and the opportunity to work together. I also named the favor they had recently done for me and said how much I appreciated it, that they had stepped in and helped me with this particular thing. And then I said to thank you for that. I'd like to offer you one email, that's going to fit in this particular slot.


And I just left it at that. And the client was so excited that I had gone kind of out of my way, a little bit, to provide them with a VIP service. They felt really special. Of course, that's going to be something they can use because they directly brought it up on the call. And for logistical reasons at the time, I couldn't include that in the original package, but it really them decide to resign and work with me again. So if you've got a client who is kind of on the fence about renewing their contract, or maybe hasn't always understood the service that you're offering and needs a little bit of re-education and restrategy, this is a good opportunity to retool the existing packages you presented to them. You're in a great spot to do this at this point in the relationship with the client, because you know them a lot better.


You've heard some of their concerns. You've given them reports about performance, or you've wrapped up other projects for them where you've gotten direct feedback. And that makes it really compelling and easy to turn what was a good package into an irresistible offer because you are personalizing it to the client, perhaps, you know, you threw in as a bonus last quarter, that you were also going to create a lead magnet or a mini funnel for your client. And it ended up performing really well. And they kept saying, wow, I wish we were doing more than one of these a quarter. Your irresistible offer might include two because, you know, from the client that it gets them results that shows the client that you're listening to them. And you're concerned about their business, having the best possible success that it can. And being the freelancer who helps take their business to the next level.


So irresistible offers, don't just have to work in that beginning of the sales process. You can bring them up with clients you haven't heard from in awhile, right? Maybe someone who looked at a proposal that was a little pricier and they couldn't imagine fitting that into their schedule or paying for the whole thing. Maybe you pair it down a little bit and position that as a holiday special or a new year special or something you're doing specifically for clients that you've had conversations with before, if it's a good fit for them, it makes it really irresistible to them. And they're very tempted to move forward on that project that maybe they tabled the core part of because your original quote was really expensive. So it can't just be irresistible to you. It has to be important for the client. It has to feel like a big win for them, the pricing on it has to be right.


So when you're beginning to just test this and think about it, it's a good idea to think of talking over your offer with another freelancer or your business coach, or even pulling in one of those clients that you've been with for a long time, who you know, is going to renew their contract. And you can say, Hey, I'm thinking about testing out an offer. That's something new. Can I run something quickly by you? Here's the current package I've put together. Does this seem compelling? Does anything seem off about it? This gives you the insight from someone who might be very much like your ideal client that you'd be pitching the irresistible offer to, and you get the chance to hear their input and make tweaks as necessary before it goes out to the intended audience. Now, I would only do this with a trusted partner.


Someone who's worked with you for a long time, a client that's maybe an ideal client that has had you on retainer for years and years, that will really make it that much more compelling and much more likely that you'll get a yes from someone who's essentially doing you a favor and to thank the client for giving their input, you might create your own irresistible offer for them the next time that they have an opportunity to renew their contract. So what's your irresistible offer? How are you going to price it? And how are you going to think about it with every new client that you interact with?


Meet Laura:


Laura Briggs is empowering the freelance generation. Through her public speaking, coaching, and writing, she helps freelancers build the business of their dreams without sacrificing all their time, family, or sanity. Laura burned out as an inner-city middle school teacher before becoming an accidental freelancer with a Google search for “how to become a freelance writer.” Since then, she’s become a contributor to Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and Writer’s Weekly. She worked for more than 300 clients around the world including Microsoft, Truecar, and the Mobile Marketing Association. She’s delivered two TEDx talks on the power of the freelance economy for enabling freedom and flexibility and how it’s being used to address the technical skills gap in the U.S. Laura is the host of the Advanced Freelancing podcast, a sought-after public speaker on the gig and digital freelance economy, and a freelance coach focused on aspiring six-figure freelancers. Laura’s books, courses, and coaching have reached over 10,000 people.

As a military spouse, Laura is passionate about serving her community and founded Operation Freelance, a nonprofit organization that teaches veterans and military spouses how to become freelancers and start their own business.

Sep 14, 2020

Are you a solopreneur ready to grow your team?  Outsourcing some of the backend tasks of your business to an assistant or strategic partner will allow you to flow in your zone of genius and take your business to the next level.

But who should you hire first?  In this episode of the Advanced Freelancing Podcast, my guest Katelyn Hamilton shares the difference between an online business manager, virtual assistant, and project manager.  We discuss which you should hire first and at what stage of your business you should bring them onboard.

Here are some things we covered in this episode:

  • What is the difference between an OBM, a virtual assistant, and a project manager?
  • What does an OBM or VA actually do?
  • Should you hire an OBM or VA first?
  • At what stage of your business should you hire an OBM?
  • What you should expect from each type of service provider
  • An example of a typical contract and monthly retainer
  • The value of long term contracts

After listening to this episode, share your action steps and take-aways with our group:

Mastering Your Freelance Life With Laura

Connect With Laura:

Follow Laura on Facebook

Join Laura’s Community

Subscribe to the Podcast

Subscribe to Laura’s YouTube Channel

Connect With Katelyn:


Katelyn began her career in marketing and public relations in Nashville, Tennessee. After working in the agency world for six years, she decided to pursue the entrepreneurship route to create more freedom and flexibility in her life. Now, Katelyn works as an Online Business Manager where she helps entrepreneurs organize, strategize and prioritize the backend of their business to go from overwhelmed to out-in-front. A Georgia grad, she bleeds red and black and is a diehard Georgia football fan, dog mom and outdoor enthusiast.


Instagram: @katelynehamilton


Read the Transcript:


Welcome to the advanced freelancing podcast. I'm so happy to have you here today. Would you like to go ahead and tell us a little bit more about you and how you got started owning your own business?


Yeah, absolutely. So, uh, thank you for having me on the show. My name is Katelyn Hamilton and I started in the corporate marketing and PR world. Uh, when I graduated from college, my goal was really to climb that corporate PR ladder. And I had, you know, the vision that you're exposed to from an early age of, you know, you go to college, you get a job, you climb the corporate ladder, you retire. So that was really my focus and my goal. And it wasn't until I got into that sort of world that, I kinda saw the corporate politics side of things. And, uh, I realized, you know, it just wasn't as black and white as what I had thought it was going to be. So the long and short story is I did continue to advance through my career. Switched companies, worked myself up the ladder a bit, and then I ended up having an unfortunate sort of, encounter, I guess, with a previous boss.

And we just didn't mesh very well. Eventually, I got laid off and that was something that really shook me to my core. I was never expecting that I had, Oh, I've always been a high achiever, go get her. So being like go was not in the plans. And during that time of looking for a new job, trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I started dabbling in freelancing and that's where I realized, wow, this is an entirely new world. And it gives me that flexibility, that freedom that I really was looking for, and being a millennial, I love to travel. I love to do things on my own terms. I love to really just create and cultivate like that working environment that gave me the ability to travel and see friends work the hours I wanted to work and just live the life I wanted to live.

So as I was looking for a new job, I was trying to essentially fit a square peg in a round hole because I wanted all of these things, but that's not what the traditional corporate structure gives you. So I ended up taking a new job and realizing that I hated that. So I launched my first business, which was really a full-service marketing agency. I'm on the side of working with my full-time job. My plan was to work that for a year or so, and then do that full time. Well, nothing ever happens according to plan. And about six weeks in, once I launched my website to that new job, my boss told me I had to take the website down or I couldn't work there anymore. So I made the decision to leave, to walk out. I was like, you know what, this is exactly what I need to kind of go full time.

And that's where that business was born. So, you know, you do what, you know, I worked with, uh, clients and found clients through the power of networking and past relationships and connections, and started building that business and worked in that sort of agency model, in the marketing space. And that led me to building the relationships in the online space as well because I again was kind of welcomed into this entrepreneurship world. And I saw the need for meshing my services of like marketing project management strategy in the online space with all these creative entrepreneurs. So you have all these people that have really amazing, brilliant ideas, and they're so smart and they want to help so many people, but there's a lack of organization, lack of strategy. There's a lack of really just kind of having structure to that. They're part of the bit their, their business, you know, in a way. So that's what actually led me to transition into, uh, working as an online business manager and OBM. And so now I work with multiple six and seven-figure business owners in helping them to manage the backend of their businesses, to allow them to be really efficient, uh, organized and have a structure that will allow their business to thrive and give them the ability to focus on the stuff that they're good at, which is coaching or serving their clients in the best capacity possible.


That makes a lot of sense. And I think it's a really common story for how a lot of people get into freelancing. One of the questions that I think we should kind of kick-off with is can you describe what makes an online business manager, the right fit for your business? Because a lot of people throw out these terms. They think maybe their first hire needs to be an OBM. A lot of times I find it needs to be a virtual assistant or some other type of contractor instead, is there a certain stage you need to be at to be ready to hire an OBM?

And this is definitely, this is a great question, and it's definitely a complex question because to be honest with you, I could tell you, either way, it really depends on the goals ultimately of your business, how fast you want to speed up your business, how much support you feel like you want need and how much money you want to invest. So you're either given the ability to have more time or more money. So if you feel like you want to invest and use that money to invest in hiring support, hiring a team, and you're earlier in your business, you may hire an OBM, but if you are just getting started out for additionally, what I see and what I typically recommend to somebody is to hire a virtual assistant. So let me kind of break down what that difference in those roles looks like because I think there's some confusion in that, in the space of like, what's the difference between an OBM and a virtual assistant.


And the, I look at it is a virtual assistant is very task-oriented. So when you are working in your business and you need support with, scheduling your social content, uh, sending out an email newsletter, managing your calendar, or your inbox, they're very specific tasks that are often repeatable that your virtual assistants can do it. Doesn't take a ton of strategic thinking. Um, it doesn't take a ton of strategy. You're really just offloading those, those tasks and those things that, um, take extra time in your day or are monotonous, or, aren't serving you in the capacity that you, you know, that you want to be doing, bookkeeping, invoices, things like that, the difference between that and what an online business manager does and think of an online business manager as your right hand, man, your strategic partner in the corporate world, you could think of it as like your operations officer.


So the person that will strategically sit there and think about your business and how you're driving it forward. So, if you're doing, if you're, if you're somebody that does launches maybe for courses or programs or anything like that, your OBM is going to be the one that's kind of working on the timeline for that launch with you and figuring out the parts that need to go into that launch. So what needs to be included, you know, do we need to build a sales page? You know, we need to have emails, we need to have social content. We need to open up your calendar for sales calls. We need to have, you know, an education phase and excite phase of launch base. Like we're kind of breaking that down with the business owner to make sure that they have all their bases covered. They're not missing anything and allows them to, for example, uh, really be present energetically in their launch.


So they're not worrying about any of those backend things. So the OBM really takes a little bit more of a strategy, side of things, as well as can be responsible for managing the VA's or the team members. Cause sometimes some of my clients have like a team of 20 to 30 people and they don't have time to manage all of those moving parts. So you could be managing as an OBM, like your graphic designer, your website person who runs your website, um, your tech team, your social team, etc. So it's really the person that kind of is the glue that holds the business together on the back end. And, you know, does that more strategic business side of things. So again, that's kind of why I go back to like being a right-hand woman or right-hand man, versus just somebody that you can outsource singular tasks to.


I liked that a lot. I think a lot of entrepreneurs are at the point where the very first person you hire is probably going to be that virtual assistant because you need to still outline the strategy and give them the tasks to complete it. So it's very possible that you could end up with a virtual assistant who has more ability than just completing tasks, but a lot of times that's how they start out. And so you shouldn't expect someone that you're paying entry-level virtual assistant rates to be helping you with strategy and project management and lots of more detailed things that would really call for an online business manager. We moved my executive assistant Melissa into the role of OBM pretty quickly, because it was clear to me that she was just doing a lot of those things already. She was already acting like an OBM without calling herself that, and it just felt like it was a better title to suit that.


So you need to think about where you're at in your business and what kind of person you want onboard. Virtual assistants tend to have potentially more clients than OBMs do a lot of OBMs will only work with maybe a handful of clients at a time because they are providing such high-level support. Now, a question that I see come up a lot, especially in Facebook groups of OBMs/OBM versus project manager, I feel like OBMs do a lot of project management type work, which is why it gets confusing for people. Would you make a distinction between project manager and OBM and if so, what, what is that difference?


That's actually so funny that you bring that up. So yeah, I do think there's a difference there because I work with one client in a project manager capacity because it's just a unique situation, but she also has an OBM and, uh, she has both. So I think that there is a distinction, the project manager really is the person that's keeping your projects, your tasks, your things, your can be your team to on track. So managing, you know, hours managing, um, specific clients and things like that, but doesn't have the full necessarily overview of everything in the business. So to me, the OBM is like that overarching, um, support and yes, they do and can do project management. I do that for other clients as well. Um, but they, they may, they're a little bit more big picture and your project manager is just over that one specific, you know, responsibility, I would say, you know, like they're responsible for managing the team, making sure the projects are staying on track, making sure things aren't getting lost in the shuffle and things are still moving.


And then you could have your OBM. That's still responsible for that project manager and making sure those things are getting done. But again, it's, it's kind of taking your OBM out of the weeds a bit. So there is a difference. Could your OBM support both roles? Absolutely. Um, it really just, again, depends on kind of how your business is set up and where you feel like you need support. I mean, I feel like if you have a lot of projects and you, a lot of clients, it may make sense to have a project manager that can kind of be in the weeds every single day, managing those details and those people and those things versus if you just run a handful of different group programs or you have, you know, fewer clients, um, your, your OBM can kind of manage both of those things. Does that make sense?


Yeah, no, it does make sense. And I think a lot of times we hear project manager in the context of more traditional companies where they're developing software or something like that. And it's the project manager's job to keep every single person in the company on track and report problems and identify, you know, breakdowns and workflow and things like that. So I think that's a really important and helpful distinction to make. So as far as, is there a point, like in terms of the revenue that you generate in your business where you think business owners should be starting to think about hiring an OBM? I know it might depend on the industry, but I think that it's really hard for people to tell when they've kind of maxed out their VA's capability or when they're asking more of their virtual assistant than they should. I mean, is there, do you see any common points that entrepreneurs hit where their business has grown past a certain point? And it's like, it's going to be a mess if they don't have an OBM to help sort that out.


Yeah, that's, that's such a good question, but also hard to necessarily pinpoint. I think a lot of people bring me on board when they're either close to or at the six-figure mark. Um, and again, I think it goes back to realizing, you know if you can maximize your time with your virtual assistant, your bringing in more of that income, right? If you have just a smaller team and then you get to a point where, you know, you feel like I can't take on any more clients or I can't do any additional work, um, it would really help me to have more of a strategic, you know, person in my business that, or a project manager or somebody that can kind of manage the team outside of just managing, you know, these one-off tasks that I'm asking somebody to do. Um, and then you can hire additional support.


I mean, I think I look at the business models differently too, because you can have a team of three VA's before you even hire an OPM. Uh, you could have a generalist. So somebody that sort of works across your business and does a variety of things for you. And that's usually what I recommend people start out with is hiring somebody that can just do a little bit of everything. And then as you grow, you may see a need to hire specific VA's for individuals, specialties, or niches. So maybe you want to hire a graphic designer, somebody that specializes in just graphics and maybe you need to hire, um, something that really focuses more on text. So email marketing, website updates, um, things like that. And I think you can get sort of specialized in those roles, um, before you bring on the OBM to one, manage those roles and also help you manage other things in your, in your business, um, to help you to help you grow.


I also find that it really depends on the personality of the business owner. So for me, I'm very type A, a very organized, very masculine sort of energy because I'm very structured. Um, but a lot of the clients I work with are the total opposite of me, very free-flowing, very creative, have no organization or structure, and they don't always work well necessarily in that. So that's what they need an OBM for is to bring them in and keep them organized, keep them on track, give them sort of that structure of the plan so that then they can flow, you know, in their launch or in their business. Um, but they have that structure. So to me, it's partially personality and how you work, if you need additional support and structure and somebody to give you that, you're not always going to get that from the VA. Cause again, they're very task-oriented and they're doing what you tell them to do. Whereas an OBM can kind of see those blocks, see what you're missing, fill those holes, bring certain things to your attention that you don't always think about because you think about them in a different way. So I think more importantly than income, it's how you function and as a business owner and how you run your business.


I liked that a lot. I think that it's so easy to get hung up on, you know, knowing that you need to outsource, but not being sure exactly which person that you need to outsource it to. And so it's, it's very customed to you, right. And as you were saying that, I was just thinking about how often people ask me, well, who are the team members that you have on your team? And the answer is, well, one, it changes a little bit from time to time, you know, we're heading into a book launch. So I have extra people and extra expenses as a result of that, that not all of those people will stay on and consistently work with me after the fact. But there's also people that have been on my team for five and six years that just work with me on retainer on a regular basis. And so I think the answer is you have to figure out where the holes are in your business.


If there's things that you shouldn't be doing, things you don't like doing things that take you a lot of time to do, you definitely need help, but that doesn't always mean you need to go directly to an OBM because I think you can also frustrate an OBM by saying, oh yeah, this is an OBM position, but I'm also going to need you to be scheduling social media posts and reviewing my calendar. Like if the bulk of the activities are really something that a virtual assistant can do, it doesn't make sense for you or the OBM to be paying that person more. Now, can you talk a little bit about the way that you structure your contracts and packages with your clients? Do you have them sign a minimum monthly package? Is it on retainer? I'm just sort of curious because it's all over the board with VA's for sure. So I'm curious about OBMs.


Yeah. It really, and it really is, I think, in this world as well, I think, um, so, so I personally structure my business on an hourly early rate with a minimum set of hours every month. So my minimum is 15 hours a month. Um, it used to be 10. And you know, when I was first starting out that, you know, I had more clients, what I've realized over, you know, of course, if my business is kind of like what you said earlier, having less clients with more hours is going to not only serve me but serve my clients better as well. Um, because I'm able to give them more attention versus switching from client to client so frequently. So that's why I have a minimum of 15 hours a month. Um, could that increase again in the new year? It could, um, it could be 20.


It really just depends, um, on kind of the business and where I want to take my business at that time. But right now it's 15 hours a month of a minimum and I require a three-month minimum commitment. And the reason that I do that is what I used to do was just require, um, one month and then we would reevaluate and see how that month, you know, make sure we were in an energetic match and then the contract would roll month to month. But really when you're hiring an OBM, you're hiring somebody for, to me the longterm of your business. It's not just a short, um, support decision and onboarding a new client takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of investment on my end because I want to know the ins and outs of their entire business. And it takes a full month in my opinion, to really dive in and do that, to understand how they work, how their programs work, what systems they have set up, where their lack is and where we need to create efficiencies in their business.


Um, what team members they have are they serving them in the best capacity? Is there a better way to structure and organize their business? Um, so again, doing that deep dive can truly take time to integrate. And if you know, a month or two months in, they decide they don't want to work with you anymore. That's so much that you've now invested that you have to go and do again in terms of not only from a business development standpoint, finding a new client, but reinvesting that time and energy into somebody new because how I run my business is I'm, you know, the OBM, but then I have a team of five actually under me and that team supports me. So I, I do outsource some of those VA tasks that my clients give me that can be repeated, you know, repeated, such as social engagement, scheduling content, um, doing even just some research on podcast to pitch or things like that.


And so it gives me the ability to outsource, you know, some of that's my team too, but I don't do that when I first started working with my clients, make that investment in them and their business. And it's just me in our business until I can get my head wrapped around what it is that they strategically need and what we need to do and implement to help them be successful and continue to be even more successful than they already are. So again, that's why I required that three-month minimum commitment because usually what I see is my clients stay with me for the long haul and for the longterm, but I was attracting in the wrong clients with just requiring, you know, that month to month retainer because I don't think people were necessarily taking it as seriously. They liked the idea of having an OBM, but they didn't totally understand.


I think the role in detail to know that it's really your strategic partner, you know, so that's, that's how I set up my business currently. Um, and I think that it's, it's worked, it's worked so far and I don't have a ton of, capacity to take on new clients in the continuous OBM role. I'm actually, uh, looking to bring onboard a new one to two new clients over this next month that I've already had calls with people and I have a waitlist. So that's how I run my business now. But what I do is I offer other services. So, you know, I have intensives that people can book with me to just get their business sort of straightened out on the backend. And then it gives them the ability to continue to run with their business. That's a little bit more, um, efficient or organized, so to speak, uh, working on creating, you know, courses for the future.


So again, I think that you really have to find what works for you and the types of clients that you want to work with. Um, versus just there's, you know, there's not a one way to necessarily do it. Um, I know other people take less hours and then I know other people that have a flat fee and they only take on say three clients at a time, but it's at a premium price point, um, to manage, you know, just those three clients and that way, you know, their time, they don't track their hours necessarily. So again, I don't think that there's a one size fits all model. It's just what you want your business to look like. And a little bit, so, you know, some trial and error too.


Those are all really good points. And I like the idea of doing an intensive too, because not everyone is going to be ready necessarily to hire an OBM on an ongoing basis in their business, or they really don't understand what it looks like. And so this is a good guy trial situation to see, you know, does this work for me? And Oh, now that things are organized, wouldn't it just be easier if I hired this person to implement on all the things we strategize. So I think that's an important note that if you're hiring an OBM or thinking about becoming an OBM, there's all types of different things out there, and you can determine the policies that you want to have in your own business-specific to you. Well, this has been super helpful just for me to learn information about it, and I'm sure my audience as well. Where can people go to learn a little bit more about you and the kinds of services you offer?


Yeah. So I think my website's probably the best place and that's Or you can find me on Instagram, I'm always sharing, just tip little tips and tricks that I'm seeing in my client's businesses or my own business to help increase efficiencies. Um, so my Instagram handle is @katelynehamilton. Um, and then I am going to offer just your audience a discount of my course. So I have a course called automate everything and it focuses on Dubsado. Dubsado is one of the platforms that I use in all of my client's businesses that has been the number one tool and just creating overall efficiencies. It's, you know, you can use it as a CRM to manage contracts, invoices, onboarding clients, and it's sort of smoothing out in automating that process as a whole. Um, and it's just an amazing thing tool. So I'm going to get 50% off that course as well. And that is on my website, that all that information for automate everything and just use the code FREELANCE to get 50% off.


Awesome. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show.


Of course, thanks for having me.

Meet Laura:

Laura Briggs is empowering the freelance generation. Through her public speaking, coaching, and writing, she helps freelancers build the business of their dreams without sacrificing all their time, family, or sanity. Laura burned out as an inner-city middle school teacher before becoming an accidental freelancer with a Google search for “how to become a freelance writer.” Since then, she’s become a contributor to Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and Writer’s Weekly. She worked for more than 300 clients around the world including Microsoft, Truecar, and the Mobile Marketing Association. She’s delivered two TEDx talks on the power of the freelance economy for enabling freedom and flexibility and how it’s being used to address the technical skills gap in the U.S. Laura is the host of the Advanced Freelancing podcast, a sought-after public speaker on the gig and digital freelance economy, and a freelance coach focused on aspiring six-figure freelancers. Laura’s books, courses, and coaching have reached over 10,000 people.

As a military spouse, Laura is passionate about serving her community and founded Operation Freelance, a nonprofit organization that teaches veterans and military spouses how to become freelancers and start their own business.

Sep 7, 2020

Do you get nervous about sales calls? I did too as a new freelancer, but now I love them! In this episode, you will learn how to show up to these confidently and effectively.

The more you can master sales calls and look forward to them, the better you're going to be in your business overall, because this is where deals are closed. 

Here are my top five tips for sales calls:

  1. Make it easy for clients to book sales calls with you
  2. Don’t get nervous if a client has to cancel or reschedule a call
  3. Do your research before the call
  4. Do the call standing up
  5. Take notes as you go

Here are some things we covered in this episode:

  • Learn how to show up confidently
  • How experimenting with mock sales calls can help you show up confidently
  • Why you should put energy into learning the sales call process
  • Why you should think of sales calls as opportunity calls
  • The importance of using a calendar tool
  • The benefits of a CRM tool, such as Dubsado
  • The value of the cold pitching method
  • What to research before the sales call
  • How to listen for clues to put into your proposal

After listening to this episode, share your action steps and take-aways with our group:

Mastering Your Freelance Life With Laura

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Read the Transcript:


It's time for another episode of the advanced freelancing podcast. And what's so exciting about this one today is that it's a discussion about sales calls. This is something that so many freelancers get extremely nervous about and are concerned about how they can show up to these confidently and effectively. And I'll share with you at the outset. And then we'll also mention this at the end that I have a new masterclass all about mastering your sales calls, showing up confidently, how to lead the discussion, how to tell what type of client you have on the call and how much leading you should do versus listening. These are all of my best practices from years of doing sales calls. Now I'll tell you the truth. I actually love sales calls, but I didn't start out that way. I hated them for a long time because I really felt like they were an opportunity for me to screw up.


Right? So I felt that if I didn't show up confidently if I wasn't clear on the call, I could take a business deal that was already on track to happening and totally derail it during the sales call. And I've heard this from other freelancers as well. Sometimes a client will cancel a sales call with them and they're like, Oh, thank God. Right? Like, or they're just, they get off the call and they don't feel very confident. It's a skill that I work on a lot with my one on one coaching clients. We actually do mock sales calls. I give them feedback at the end of the sales call, we record it. And then they can also go back and listen to the recording. And this has been a really helpful exercise for coaching clients because there are small things that you can do during your sales call that will really impact the outcome of the call and how the client feels as you're speaking as well. And so sometimes it's just making these minor tweaks that you didn't realize you were doing, or you didn't realize were as effective as they could be.


And those could a


Big impact on your conversions, right? It can really lead the client to that next step of the process where you are creating a custom proposal and where they are really excited about working with you. So I tell freelancers this all the time, and it is still true. The more you can master your sales calls and look forward to them, the better you're going to be in your business overall, because this is where deals are closed. It is always awesome when we're able to close a freelance deal without having to get on the phone. But I promise you, your numbers will increase significantly because many freelancers are not comfortable on the phone. So if you put that energy into learning more about the sales call process, you can really do yourself a favor and stand out from the competition. I hope you get to the point where you're looking forward to these sales calls rather than dreading them and feeling like, Oh no, you know, this is something I'm going to have to show up for that I could potentially bomb that won't really go very well.


Now, one reframe I often use with my coaching clients is to think of these as opportunity calls for some people, the word sales feels really slimy to them. Even though as a freelancer, you are definitely selling yourself. If you can view each call as an opportunity and as a two conversation, you'll feel much more comfortable when you're on the line or on the zoom call with your client. Because sales calls do go by both directions. This is certainly the opportunity for the client to ask you questions and to qualify you for the role. But it is also your chance to decide if you like their work style, their industry, the project at hand, and the team you could potentially be joining up with. And so this is a two-way street. And when you think of it that way, like, Hey, we're qualifying each other.


You can automatically erode some of the anxiety that most freelancers have around doing these calls because you're like, Hey, I'm showing up. This could be a good opportunity for me. It could be a great fit for the client, but I'm not going to stress myself out, forcing myself into that and thinking about this as a call where I have to convert someone. It's one of those things like where you show up and the less desperate you are, and the more confident you are that you're truly just having a conversation. It's almost like the client gets more interested because they feel that confidence radiating from you on the call. And that makes it really exciting for them and for you because you don't feel that pressure and those stakes on you. So in this podcast episode, I'm going to be talking about five tips that are going to make your sales calls as a freelancer better.


Now I go into great detail of all of these in my sales call masterclass, including questions. You should ask how you should kick off the call if there's an awkward silence at the beginning. So this is really a little bit of a taste test of some of the things that will help you be effective when you're scheduling sales calls, let's dive right in on that subject, make it easy for clients to book sales calls with you. There are so many tools out there that can help you do this. Acuity Calendly, the woven calendar app, which is free. Don't go back and forth with clients. If you don't have to, the only time you should be going back and forth with clients is if there are multiple people who need to be on the call. Now, if that's the case, you're going to throw out several times in the next five days from when they’re interested, said, they're interested in a call, right?


And that way you can have team members respond and say, okay, that one works for me. Now you can still do this with tools like Calendly. You can also use tools, like the doodle app that will allow people to check when they are available, but that one's usually more complex than what you really need for a freelance sales call. So I encourage you to throw out a couple of options, make it simple for them to be able to well, to view your calendar and the times that you have available, pretty much every software and CRM will enable you to do this. Even Dubsado will help you. And if you haven't used Dubsado, it is my new favorite tool. We will put a link in the show notes to check it out is amazing onboarding invoicing payment program. And they can do scheduling directly through Dubsado, or you can integrate it with something like Calendly, which is what I've done because all my appointments are managed through Calendly.


So make it easy for clients to book with you. It's far too easy for them to say, Hey, you know what? This is just too difficult to schedule. We're going back and forth. I'm spending a lot of time in my email and I don't want to be, so provide them with a link, provide them with a snapshot to your calendar that makes it that much easier for them to go ahead and book the call and you want it to be, be a program. That's going to send an automatic calendar reminder to them as well. Now, if you are going back and forth over email and are not using a calendar tool, let's say they looked at your calendar and there were no times available. You might kind of revert back to discussing things over email. Please still send them a calendar invitation. It blocks them their schedule from being double booked and it greatly increases the chances that they will show up to the call.


And that's really important. So we want to make it easy. We want to show them that we're organized, that we have all the tools in place to run an effective freelance business, where it's easy for them to interact with you. Now that gets into the second tip. Know, that people are busy and might have to reschedule. Don't sweat. It. I've worked with a lot of freelancers who get really nervous when someone has to cancel or reschedule a call. Odds are that you're reaching out to people through your pitching process that are very busy. In fact, if they are even open to hiring a freelancer, it's because they recognize they have too many projects going on and might need to outsource something them. So recognize, you know, that you want to show up prepared for the call. You want to plan on the call going ahead as it's scheduled, but if somebody needs, needs to reschedule within reason, you're going to be available and help them do that.


So again, that goes back to that calendar tool, right? We want to make it easy for them to rebook. So a tool like Calendly has reschedule and cancel options, right? In the email. They can easily, they rebook and set it up for another time. And that takes the pressure off of them of having to say, oh, no, something came up. I need to reschedule. We want to reduce that friction of the back and forth and the difficulty in finding a time. So always make it simple for them to be able to book a time with you. You can connect your Google calendar to tools like Calendly acuity, schedule one, it's those types of things so that it automatically blocks out the times on your calendar that are already booked for other things. So it's very important that when you integrate these things, you make sure that your calendar is up to date.


What I like to do is if I'm going to take off a Friday, for example, I put that on my calendar as unavailable the whole day, not because I'll forget, but mostly to trigger, Calendly, to not show any appointments during that day. So know that people might not show up for that initial call and you might have to reschedule. Now if they've rescheduled two or more times, there's probably a good chance that they're just too busy. I wouldn't up give up yet unless you're getting a lot of unprofessionalism from them. What I mean by that is maybe they're waiting until five minutes before the meeting to tell you that they can't show up. That would be a red flag, but if you have to keep rescheduling and it keeps getting pushed out, this really isn't a priority for them. It's sort of a subtle way of them saying, you know what?


This is like the least important thing on my calendar. So I'm going to keep punting the meeting farther into the future because I don't feel like it's that important. And that's something we should definitely listen to. So if you've gone through this multiple times, or if worse, if you showed up on the call and then they're just not there and they forgot about it completely, even with a calendar reminder, that's probably a sign that this isn't the right client to work with. So I always err on the side of giving the client some grace when you can. So give them an opportunity to correct it, to reschedule, to show up the next time. But if it happens multiple times, you should also feel free to walk away from rescheduling. This call yet again, the third tip for your freelance sales calls is do your research before the call.


Ideally, you've already done some research as you were pitching them, especially if you did the cold pitching method, but you want to do an even deeper dive before you have the phone call, because we want that conversation to flow organically. And you might be able to find extra information in your research process that helps you feel confident on that call. So do some more research about the company about if you can see whether they're already doing things about the type of service that you're offering, if you offer social media management or Facebook ads, go see what ads they're already running, go see what ads their competitors are running. What tweaks would you make to their organic social strategy? For example, I think that's a really good place for you to start and show up. Being able to say more than you've already said in the initial pitch.


Now the fourth tip for sales calls. I love this one. It's do the call standing up, standing up, completely changes your energy. When you do phone calls and can make you a little bit more comfortable. There's something about sitting in a chair as you're doing a freelance sales call that can make it feel a little stiff. It can really up your nerves. So what I like to do is I use my AirPods to stand up and I go to a place where I have my standing desk so that I can take notes and it's a hands-free call, but I'm really focused on listening and standing up changes your physical energy and can make it seem a little bit more like a less pressurized phone call. So go ahead and try this on one of your sales calls, it really can help you feel a little bit better.


If you're doing a video call, of course, just make sure you've got, you know, a good solid background. And most of the time, clients don't even need to see that your standings, cause you're not doing video sales calls, but if they are on video, I still encourage you to try this at least once, because as long as you still have that professional background, when you stand up and you can easily move, you know, your camera as well with your laptop, you should be able to do this effectively without a problem. And I just really love how it changes the whole landscape of the conversation. It puts me at ease if I'm on the phone and they're not seeing me at all, I can pace a little bit, you know, I can shift the weight on my feet and it just makes it feel a little bit more comfortable to be talking to them.


So tip number five is to take notes as you go, do not make this be in a way that is distracting from the phone call. So you don't need to write down every single thing the client says, but I like to have an open Google doc in front of me when I'm doing the call to type things up that I feel are important. So I am listening for specific tidbits from the client. I am listening for clues about things they've done in the past that are a problem for them. I'm listening to those buzzwords or keywords that I can weave back into the proposal. I send them after the fact. So there's a really nice, There's a really nice middle ground to strike here where you can take enough notes so that it is helpful for you to remember this information and write it up after the fact. But you also want to have the ability to speak freely and to listen very clearly to the client. So it might take a little bit of practice to get to this comfortable middle ground, but you'll definitely be glad that you did once you have got there. Those notes, I like to let them sit there. I like to record as much as possible in the client's own words. And then I'm going to come back later to write up the proposal. Once I've had a chance to let everything gel in my mind as well, that is a really great way to, um, stay confident, stay excited about the call, make it clear that I'm still listening and I'm not just typing everything they say and not really hearing it and absorbing it.


But I'm taking that time. After the fact to write a proposal based on the experience we had on the call, the notes are super helpful for revealing things that maybe they don't want in a proposal or things that they don't necessarily need or something additional that they've requested from me on the call. Um, so I leave that as its own document. I don't like rewrite it to turn it into the proposal. I leave it in the Google drive folder that I've created for that prospective client. And then I go back and revisit it as I am writing the proposal up for them. So these are just a handful of tips to help you feel a little bit more comfortable and excited for your sales calls. We'll put a link in the show notes to the sales call masterclass. It is very affordable. It has some templates and cheat sheets to help you prepare for sales calls and to feel more confident when you show up to them yourself, this is a great course that is less than $50 and it can have a payoff in such a big way in your freelance business. Once you implement the tools.

Meet Laura:

Laura Briggs is empowering the freelance generation. Through her public speaking, coaching, and writing, she helps freelancers build the business of their dreams without sacrificing all their time, family, or sanity. Laura burned out as an inner-city middle school teacher before becoming an accidental freelancer with a Google search for “how to become a freelance writer.” Since then, she’s become a contributor to Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and Writer’s Weekly. She worked for more than 300 clients around the world including Microsoft, Truecar, and the Mobile Marketing Association. She’s delivered two TEDx talks on the power of the freelance economy for enabling freedom and flexibility and how it’s being used to address the technical skills gap in the U.S. Laura is the host of the Advanced Freelancing podcast, a sought-after public speaker on the gig and digital freelance economy, and a freelance coach focused on aspiring six-figure freelancers. Laura’s books, courses, and coaching have reached over 10,000 people.

As a military spouse, Laura is passionate about serving her community and founded Operation Freelance, a nonprofit organization that teaches veterans and military spouses how to become freelancers and start their own business.