Most freelancers approach their sales pitch process haphazardly. Typically, you jump on a call or video conference and just kind of see what happens. Cross your fingers that it goes well, right?
And, sometimes it DOES go great. Other times, it straight up bombs.
So, the question is, does it have to be that unpredictable?
Are there things that you can do every single time that will ensure a specific type of outcome?
A Repeatble Sales Pitch Proces That Wins
Thankfully, there are some things that you can start implementing in your sales pitch process right away that are easy to do and are testable.
“Why does it matter if their testable?” you may ask.
Well, you can go back after every pitch and see what worked and what didn’t if you have a repeatable process that can be tested.
If something works really well with one client use it with the next. If something doesn’t work at all scrap it entirely.
This is how you get to the point as a freelancer that you can be fairly confident when you jump on a call with a potential client they will likely say yes.
You keep refining your process over time and eventually, you have something that just works almost like magic.
There are times when I get on a call with a client that it feels like cheating. I’ve done it so often that I already know what kinds of questions they will likely have and I know what they’re really wanting me to say.
How do I know? I’m not a mind reader. I’ve just got a lot of experience.
The Sales Pitch Process is 1 Part Art and 1 Part Science
Before we dive in too deep, I’m not here to try and sell you some formulaic outline with the exact words to say and questions to ask.
Have you ever been sold to by someone reading a script? How did that go?
During the sales pitch, you’ll have to think on your feet a little bit and make some adjustments based on the needs of the client AND their personalities even.
BUT, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some core fundamentals that are applicable to pretty much everyone that you can have ready.
That’s why I say the sales pitch process is 1 part art and 1 part science. There’s a creative component to it BUT there are also some things that you’re almost always guaranteed to encounter.
With that in mind, here are 5 key things that I have found are important to have at the top of your mind when you’re on a sales call with a potential client.
1. Always Start with Questions, Lots of Them, In Fact
You need to approach every sales call you take with a potential freelance client with TONS of curiosity.
Most freelancers get this wrong. They focus on themselves rather than making it all about the client. And, the conversation typically starts like a rocket with them listing off all the things they can do or have done before the client is able to get a word in edgewise.
So, rather than kicking off the call with a laundry list of how awesome you are, dig deep into who the client is.
- Ask them about their business.
- Ask them what their goals are with the project.
- Ask them if they’ve had any other experiences working with freelancers. How did that experience go?
- Ask them what they’re nervous about with this project
There are literally enough questions to ask a client on a sales call that it could take up the entire conversation. And, it all starts with being curious.
Keep a list of questions readily available if you get nervous on phone calls. Keep an editable note in your phone of questions that really sparked the conversation OR ones that you wished you would have asked in a certain situation.
But, whatever you do, don’t assume you know what the client needs before they even say a word.
After all, you might not be the right person for the job. Maybe you are! But, how would you know that unless you ask a lot of questions?
The Role of Research in Your Questions
Does this mean you shouldn’t do any research before you have the conversation? Absolutely not.
You can ask EVEN BETTER QUESTIONS when you do JUST A LITTLE BIT OF RESEARCH on who the client is and what their business looks like.
The research should make you even more curious!
Whatever you do make sure you start your sales pitch process with plenty of questions.
The client will walk away thinking you were such an awesome interesting person. AND, you’ll walk away with a new project.
2. Focus On Motivations Not Features
I love the book “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely.
Dan is a behavioral economics professor at MIT and he’s made some stunning discoveries about why we choose to buy certain things.
One of those things, and the main thesis in the book, is that we’re pretty irrational when it comes to our purchase decisions. We don’t make logical choices when we choose to buy one thing over another.
BUT, our irrationality is somewhat predictable.
For instance, the rational thing to do when choosing to buy something would be to weigh out the features of a product vs price in comparison to all the other options out there.
BUT, that’s not the main driver for why people choose to buy something over something else.
That’s the reason the luxury vehicle industry exists at all!
People are much more driven to choose a product based on their underlying motivations and less driven by features.
So, what are the features in a service-based scenario like a web design freelancer?
They’re things like how many years you’ve been doing web design. Or they could be the type of platform you build your website on or even the development languages you know how to code in.
It’s not that those AREN’T important. It’s just that those don’t have as much impact on a client during the sales pitch process.
What does have a lot of impact is the clients underlying motivations for doing the project at all. AND, THANKFULLY, everyone seems to have pretty much the same mix of motivations.
Motivations for Web Design Clients
- Profit or Gain: this is a pretty universal one. Every client wants a website because they know they need it to grow their business. You can almost guarantee that every person you talk to on a sales call will be motivated by this one.
- Fear of Loss: people are actually much more motivated to NOT LOSE something than they are to potentially gain something. That has been tested over and over again and the results are always the same. The way you reach this motivation with a client is by talking about their competition and their potential risk of losing business to a competitor.
- Avoidance of Pain: this is where a customer wants to make their lives easier. So, talk to them about how you do all the heavy lifting so they can do what they do best in their business. This is the biggest motivation for folks who have tried to DIY a project but realized it was going to be way harder than they thought.
- Pride: some people are motivated by being admired. To be honest, we probably all are. To hit on this motivation you talk about how you’re going to build them a website that makes their competition jealous or puts them in the “industry leader” position.
So, how do you know what the motivations of a client actually are? Good question!
You found out from all the questions you asked them at the beginning of the conversation.
I’ve found that you very rarely have to come up with any of this on your own. The client will tell you exactly what they want to hear IF you just listen closely enough and ask the right questions.
So, pay attention when the client is answering all those wonderful questions you’re asking them and when it’s your time to talk just parrot back the motivations they mentioned.
3. Address Their Anxieties
Another key component in your sales pitch process is addressing the elephant in the room: the client’s anxieties about the project.
Everyone comes to every purchase with a few anxieties in the back of their minds. Sometimes the client can’t even really articulate them off the top of their head, BUT you better believe they’re there.
If you really want the client to feel confident about moving forward with you on their project YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE you’re talking about their anxieties.
Again, we get the answers to what the client’s anxieties actually are by asking them.
You could do that by saying, “What anxieties do you have about this project.” BUT, again, they might not be able to tell you off the top of their head.
Instead, I ask “What would a home run look like for me on this project with you?”
Then I follow that up with “What would a strikeout look like?”
If they’re not familiar with baseball terms feel free to use some other analogy.
Those two questions will give me a lot of hints about what they’re worried about.
Addressing a Clients Anxieties in the Sales Pitch Process
Now, once you’ve figured out their anxieties you shouldn’t do that by just outright saying, “I’d like to take a moment to address your anxieties.” I mean, guess that’s better than nothing.
But, it’s always better to mix in the questions to their anxieties when it’s your turn to talk. This is where the art part of the “1 part art and 1 part science” comes into play.
When you’re describing past work with another client talk about how you overcame some of the hurdles the client feels like they might have on this project with you.
When you mention your background, highlight the areas of strength that really address their concerns.
This will make the conversation much more natural AND will work to calm their nerves when it comes to hiring you.
AND, guaranteed, the safer they feel with you, the more likely they are to hire you.
4. Be Honest About Your Limitations
You should never feel the need to cover up your limitations in your sales pitch process.
The truth is the client will automatically think you’re trying to hide something. We all do it when someone’s trying to sell us something.
Internally, we have this B.S. meter that is going off. And, we’re all asking the question “What’s the catch?”
This goes back to that “Fear of Loss” motivation. When we feel like we’ve been fooled theirs a deep sense of loss.
I just recently bought a pair of shelves from an Instagram ad that looked amazing in the photos. They were kind of expensive for shelves. BUT, I thought they’d be worth it because of how they looked.
Unfortunately, when they arrived, they looked nothing like what they did in the images.
When I went to make a return the site had been shut down. We had been had.
My wife and I are still kind of kicking ourselves about that stupid purchase. NEVER AGAIN!
Now, I’m a lot less trusting of any ads I see on Instagram because I was once fooled.
We probably all have stories like that. And, that’s what makes clients untrusting on sales calls.
BUT, one way to help them trust you and put their fears at ease is to tell them what you’re not good at.
Even acknowledging, “I’m not good at everything and I want to make sure that I’m the right person for your project,” can go a longgggg way.
So, don’t hold your cards close to your chest.
The truth is the reality of your limitations is probably much less drastic than the stories the client might make up in their heads about you.
So, spill the tea and gain their trust.
If you’ve got time constraints. Tell them.
If you’ve never worked with a specific type of platform or plugin. Tell them.
Then follow that up with a “BUT, I’m positive that if we decide I’m a good fit for your project that I will deliver a quality product that is perfect for you when it’s all said and done.”
5. Pitch With Your Process
One way to stand out from 90% of all the other freelancers out there is to go over your own workflow process in your sales pitch.
Having a process that you can communicate will help calm the fears of a potential client AND it will help you look like the professional that you are.
Honestly, we just feel safer if we know there’s a process involved in what we’re saying yes to. After all, we’ve been conditioned to look at life in a series of processes.
So, you’re creating a lot of psychological safety if you can clearly communicate each step of your process with a potential client. And, remember, the safer a client feels, the more likely they are to hire you.
You get bonus points if you have a graphic presentation that you can walk your client through with slides during your sales pitch process.
Is that necessary? No, but without a doubt, you need to be able to walk your client through every step of the journey on the way to a finished project.
You’ll gain their trust and look like a rock star.
Be Patient and Switch Things Up Until It Works
Will you be a sales pitch rockstar overnight if you do all these things? No.
It takes practice. And, it takes you finding your specific voice.
If you took the exact words I said to my last clients and repeated them verbatim on a sales call you would still likely not land the project.
You need to be YOU. You have a unique perspective, a unique skill set and a unique personality.
All of those things will come together to form a sales pitch process that is unique to you and will set you up for more “yeses” than “no’s” from clients.
So, take these principles and figure out how to make them your own.
Discover questions that work for you.
Learn how to address a client’s motivations in a way that only you can.
Speak to their anxieties in your voice.
Be open about your own limitations.
AND, tell them about a process that you’ve dialed in personally.
Doing that will make your sales pitch process genuine, natural and much more likely to end in success.