If there’s anything that holds us back as freelancers, it’s sales. Sales issues are out here RUINING freelance careers.
Sure, doing great work is great and choosing your best niche can change your business, but sales? Sales is what keeps your business moving. It’s what keeps cash flowing. It’s what makes freelancing stable or…not. It’s also an incredibly useful life skill…something I wish I would have learned earlier.
That’s because I’m bad at it. At least naturally. I don’t have a natural gift for it AND I’ve always been put off by the general image of sales people. What I didn’t know is that it’s totally possible to become better at a kind of sales that works for you.
But that’s a journey, and for a lot of us, it’s a long one that takes trial, error, and…time. That’s why we do monthly challenges in the community. This kind of thing is best done in the company of people on the same path as you. (Swing by if you want to join). In the meantime, here’s a few tips.
Examine What’s Holding You Back
For me, it was feeling like I was pushing people into things they didn’t want or need. I took care of that by going into a niche where I help match complex software solutions with people who have real, existing problems.
Some people have sales issues because they’re uncomfortable tracking results, or don’t think they can hit targets.
The solution will look different for everybody, but be honest about what puts you off or what’s slowing you down. Is it silly stereotypes, feeling like you’re being manipulative, an aversion to setting goals, a lack of confidence, or something else? Whatever it is, there’s likely a way around it.
Get Comfortable With Numbers
This is in goal-setting and tracking.
It’s nice to just aim for “more”, or “doing better next month”, but loose approaches seldom get results. You might not be ready to jump into hard goals and tracking on a spreadsheet on the first day, but start thinking of what kind of tracking you could be comfortable with. (If you are interested in a basic spreadsheet, I use one like this.)
Brush Up On Goal Setting
This is a big one. That’s because a lot of us either:
- Aim low and miss out on MASSIVE potential growth
- Set standards not based in our realities and beat up our confidence unnecessarily
Between SMART goals or PACT, look for a method that works for you and that you can keep up in the long term. Most importantly, just make sure you’re setting reasonable numeric goals, measuring them, and doing it all over next month.
Set Up a Habit
Sales (treated as an extension of marketing here at BF), takes dedication…kind of like doing laundry, dental hygiene or anything else. It’s what’s keeps your freelance business running well and contributing to your life.
I have set weekly and daily times for prospecting and other sales activities. It’s just not a good idea to wait until you see business slowing down to try to get your funnels moving.
There’s a reason why “always be selling” and “always be marketing” are things you hear…they’re true. These days, we have the help of automation to make it easier, but however it happens, it needs to happen, and it needs to be ongoing.
Freelance Sales Goal Best Practices
- Start small: If you just want to increase by 25% each month or start at just $500, that’s fine. Start where you’re comfortable.
- Make it personal: Are you trying to cover your phone bill? Replace employed income? Start a retirement fund? Work with numbers that reflect your needs.
- Use ranges: This is a different game than employment. We don’t work in set numbers. Try a range that floats just below your minimum (covering expenses, a bill, etc.) and up to around 150% of that.
- Increase slowly: Set a goal and see if you can keep it going for 3-6 months. Once you’ve done it for a year, you know you’re onto something that works.
- Don’t change too many variables at the same time: Try a new platform, or a new prospecting email, or a new niche. If you mix too many, you’ll never nail down what’s effective.
- Big jumps are ok but…: Just make sure you’re ready and have the room to both push AND sustain…and don’t get caught up in the trap of doing more to bring in more cash. Look into raising your rates and working with higher-paying clients before making sales that leave you cranking out more production hours.
So how do you improve?
Well, like I said, it’s a journey. I’ll be posting some of my favorite resources here, and if you have any you’d like to add, drop them off!