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.
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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.
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.