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Are you sending tons and tons of pitches, but converting no clients? I see this so often, and today I am sharing the things that you need to keep in mind when you are talking to clients.

You’ll learn why the phone call with a client is a crucial pinch point in your ability to be successful, and when to listen or lead the call.  I will teach you how to address what the client needs to hear, deal with potential objections, and create a sense of urgency that will get them to take immediate action.

You will discover the value of nonbillable time, calculate your return on investment, and how to collect your data and make data-driven decisions to improve your conversions.

Here are some things we covered in this episode:

  • Things that you need to keep in mind when you are talking to clients
  • Why the phone call with a client is a crucial pinch point in your ability to be successful
  • When to listen or lead the sales call
  • How to turn a potential client’s language around, into a persuasive and conversion based conversation
  • How to show up as the authority and credible freelancer that you are
  • How conversion is really about being as efficient and effective as possible
  • Why you should be earning more by doing less
  • Why you need to balance your optimal client and project load with a related amount of pitching and sales time
  • How to assign a value to your time and calculate your return on investment
  • The importance of having a streamlined system for doing the research, writing the pitch and sending it
  • How to collect your data and make data-driven decisions to improve your conversions
  • How to learn their pain points, you can improve your conversions by aligning your solution to their biggest priority or their biggest pain point.
  • Pro-tip: Give them a clear line of sight between the challenges they’re facing right now and the services or products you offer
  • How to deal with potential objections, by leveraging all of the experience that you have
  • Why you should give them a reason to take action now
  • Why you should send proposals that have deadlines in them

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

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Read the Transcript:

(00:01):

Hey, advanced freelancing listeners. I’m so glad to have you with me and thanks so much whether you’re tuning in for the very first time, or you’ve been a long time listener today, we’re talking about one of my absolute favorite subjects, something that I love to geek out about, and that is conversions. But first, if you haven’t yet checked out my upcoming second book, the six-figure freelancer I encourage you to do. So I’m so excited about this book. I put a ton of work into it. If you’ve listened to some of my past episodes, you know, this is the book that I wanted to sell. First, the book I’ve been brainstorming for over four years, and I’m so excited that it’s finally coming to reality. Um, one of the things that I love the most about the book is that I interviewed 19 other six-figure freelancers about their best tips and tricks.

(00:46):

So you’re really getting a book that has experience and insight and knowledge from over 20 freelancers who have done the thing. And aren’t just saying it from, you know, one month of experience or something crazy like that. Um, sometimes I see people in the freelance space that are like, Hey, I’m selling a course because I’ve been freelancing for two months. So I know everything, right. I knew going into writing the book that it did not all need to come from me. And it probably shouldn’t right. It’s important to think about the diversity in the freelance space and the different ways that people approach their freelance business. And I worked really hard to make sure that that was included in this book. So check out sixfigurefreelancebook.com by pre-ordering the book which drops on October 20th, you will get four exclusive bonuses delivered to your email inbox.

(01:30):

On October 1st, you can check out the website to learn more about how that process works. I’m pumped for you to read it. So I hope you’re just as excited to. Now, today. I want to talk a little bit about conversions and things that you need to keep in mind when you are talking to clients. So I think one of the things that really boils down to sort of a failure point with conversions is a failure to do two of the most important things. When you get on the phone call with a client, the phone call with a client is a crucial pinch point in your ability to be successful. And it’s so important. In fact, that it’s one of the things I regularly do with my six-figure coaching clients. We do mock sales calls where I act like the most difficult freelance client. I ask them all the hard questions we record it, I give them feedback and then they go back and listen to it later and use the strategies that they’ve picked up to improve their process.

(02:24):

And I’ve also created the Sales Call Masterclass with this in mind because there are so many freelancers who struggle with this particular problem. So if you’re interested specifically in improving your sales call techniques, what questions you should be asking the full end to end process, and why sales calls can really turn your conversions around, check out laurateachesyou.com and look for the sales call masterclass. It’s one of my favorite things that I’ve created recently because honestly, I love doing sales calls. I think that’s where I close most of my business. So I look forward to doing them when they’re with the right clients. So of the most important things that you have to hang back and wait to see which one of them you need to lean into for better conversions is listen or lead. And this will depend on the type of client that you get on the phone.

(03:10):

If you’ve cold pitched a client and you caught their attention with a great subject line and a great concept, that’s awesome, but they might not necessarily know why they really need the service that you offer. Furthermore, your email might have been forwarded around to different people. And so the person who’s ending up on the call with you might not understand the value proposition fully. That’s a great example of a time when you would show up to the call and you would lead the conversation, right? Because it’s very unlikely that they’re going to kick off the call in any way that’s going to be meaningful. They’re probably going to be like, so tell me more about you, right? And they don’t want your personal history or backstory when they ask that they’re unsure of why they’re on the call. And so this early point of the call is your chance to step into the leadership role and drive the conversation by asking important questions and talking about what you do.

(04:01):

Now, if you’re on the phone with the other type of client who knows what they want and is potentially comparing you to other solutions, then you want to listen. We listen in this case because clients often give us excellent information about what we need to know in that immediate conversation and in the proposal that follows up the phone call or in the suggestions that we make after the fact. So if they’re ready to drive the call and you’re going to step into that listener seat, do it consciously and take notes, listen to how they describe the problems and challenges they’re having listen to how they describe where they want to go. And the goals that they have for the business. You can turn a lot of that language around, into a persuasive and conversion based conversation after the fact. So for example, imagine they kick off the call by saying, we’re looking for somebody who’s going to help us with our Google ad pay-per-click campaign.

(04:57):

It’s really not performing as well as we expected. It seems like some things are broken in there. That information is golden to you when you are in the listener seat because you know exactly what pain points you need to hit on as you steer that conversation, when it does get to your turn. So knowing when to listen and when to lead is not something that you can always predict before the call, sometimes your early conversations and communication with the client will indicate which way the call is going to go, but you need to be prepared for it to go either direction. So you need to be prepared when you get on that call to see if there’s anyone else who’s stepping up to lead the flow of that conversation. And if there isn’t, then you need to be prepared with the questions like the ones I’ve outlined in the sales call masterclass to drive that conversation and really show up as the authority and credible freelancer that you are so listening, uh, failing to listen or failing to lead can throw off the entire conversation, right?

(05:58):

And it’s not a perfect science. You’ve kind of got to hop on that call and see which direction it’s going so that you can know which of those roles you’re going to step into. So let’s talk a little bit about conversion. Conversion is really about being as efficient and effective as possible. Earning more by doing less. It’s also about balancing your optimal client and project load with a related amount of pitching and sales time. That makes sense. One mistake that I see lots of scaling and even new freelancers make is they recognize that they need to put a lot of time into their marketing and pitching, but they’re not really tracking how well that is performing. So one exercise I like to take people through is asking them if you were to assign a value to your time and consider the time that you put into crafting a pitch as an expense, how much are you spending on the pitching process each week or month?

(06:56):

And what percentage of that translates to a landed client? So this is really a question of return on investment. Sometimes cold pitching is kind of viewed as like the Holy grail of landing new clients. And by that I simply mean you’re not responding to an Upwork job post you’re reaching out to a company and pitching your services directly to them for the purpose of opening a conversation with a decision-maker. However, you can really go down the wrong direction by spending seven hours to write a pitch that doesn’t land in any business. And I see this all the time in other freelance Facebook groups where people are like, I’m sending tons and tons of pitches, but I’m converting no clients. And it’s like, you can’t afford to be spending seven hours per pitch. You’ve got to have a streamlined system for doing the research, writing the pitch and sending it because if you’re spending a ton of your time and none of it is converting, that’s not a good situation.

(07:52):

Every freelancer is going to have billable and nonbillable time. So your billable time is when you’re working on client projects and you’re going to get paid for that work. Your nonbillable time is you’re pitching your admin, you’re giving instructions to your team members. So think of it this way. If you typically charge $50 an hour and you spend five hours on a pitch and a related phone call but didn’t land the gig. That process essentially costs you $250 as a one-off experience. That’s not so bad, right? Because nobody has perfect conversions and you’re not going to win every potential job that you bid on. However, if that’s happening all the time, you’re essentially spending lots of money in terms of the time and prep that you’re doing for those potential projects. And you’re not getting the payoff. So there are two primary variables that can help improve that situation, reduce the time that is spent per pitch or land more gigs.

(08:51):

And the second one is really the sweet spot and the heart of the, of conversions. So one thing that I think many freelancers skip over, right, and something that I did from day one and I still do today because I find it to be helpful is to keep a spreadsheet of how you’re pitching, who you’re pitching and whether or not it’s working out. You do not need to pay for expensive software to do this. You can use an Excel or Google sheet, and you can use columns like potential client’s name, useful information about the prospect, the date you pitched them, the date, you scheduled a call, a key takeaways from that call a followup date, or even an outcome. This is where you collect your data and make data-driven decisions to improve your conversions. So look for ways to make your process so much more efficient as well.

(09:44):

You can pull a lot from the effectiveness data, but look for opportunities to make things more efficient. Overall one great example of this is template pitches and sending samples that are aligned with each of your core service offerings. You go back and listen to the last episode for more information about creating work samples, automating your calendar template emails. These are some other ways to improve the efficiency of your process by reducing the amount of time that you spend per pitch. It is not useful to have an email going back and forth with the CEO. Hey, are you free on Tuesday? Yeah, let’s do Tuesday at 9:00 AM. Well, is that mountain time, or is that central time? Not a good use of anybody’s time. So have a calendar link where the call can be booked quickly and easily with the client so that we can minimize your time spent as well as theirs because it really matters.

(10:40):

So conversions depend a lot on a couple of different things. First of all, you’ve got to have a rock-solid pitch and your pitch should be aligned with the services you’re going to discuss on the call. If there’s a disconnect, the client will feel it and won’t be bought in. As I mentioned earlier, you want to understand the pain points and the priorities of the client by doing things like putting out a pre-call survey, asking them at the kickoff of the call or analyzing the words they used in their job post, it’s a really powerful sales strategy to rephrase their words, to avoid misunderstandings. And it also gives them a great chance to elaborate so that you can further clarify what’s most relevant for them. Once you know their pain points, you can improve your conversions by aligning your solution to their biggest priority or their biggest pain point.

(11:31):

And here’s a pro tip. Give them a clear line of sight between the challenges they’re facing right now and the services or products you offer. That’s true even if there is a long road to the finish line, the client already probably knows that, and doesn’t need to know every detail about how you’d approach the project. So if you break it down for them in a 17 step process, and you do that on a phone call, the client only feels overwhelmed. So give them the even right more limited version of what that looks like for you, so that they feel confident that you can handle it. But also that it’s not going to be a big beast of a project that has the potential to go off course. Another key area to improve conversions is by dealing with potential objections, by leveraging all of the experience that you have.

(12:21):

This is a core thing. I go over in the sales call, master class, talking about most common objections that come up and how you can pivot around them or how you can clear up client misunderstandings around the idea of the objection that they brought up, right? Like sometimes they’re just not clear about a certain thing and it’s all in how you handle the response to the question. You can even have a client that seems like an absolute, no go based on the objections that they’re raising. And you have ways to maneuver around that, where you can completely salvage the relationship. And sometimes those end up being really, really great clients. So another thing, that’s important for the sake of conversions is introducing a sense of urgency where it is applicable. So giving them a reason to take action now, if that applies to them is really helpful.

(13:12):

Um, if you’ve ever been offered something and there wasn’t urgency attached to it. So maybe you saw an ad on Facebook for something that was 27 bucks and you open that tab or you made a bookmark to buy it later. You didn’t buy it that time because something was preventing you from moving forward with the sale. Or you didn’t think that it was important enough. You could always buy it later, right? So that sense of urgency gives clients a reason to ask now. That’s leaning into their pain points and convincing them that this is the right time to do it. Or it’s putting some actual parameters on their eligibility to work with you, right? So this is why you send proposals that have deadlines in them. This is why you tell them, you know, I have the bandwidth. Now I can guarantee my availability for the next two weeks.

(13:56):

But after that, we need to reconnect. Now, obviously don’t say those things. If they’re complete lies, if you have no clients, don’t tell somebody that you’re fully booked, but you can still use that sense of urgency. In other ways, it helps clients feel like there’s an immediate reason for them to decide to act now. So urgency is huge, and you can do that by closing out the call with a couple of different questions. And I’ll give you two examples here, do this confidently, but ask, what would you like to have happened next? That’s going to tell you when you’ve got a dud or a tire kicker on the call, don’t send proposals to people that don’t ask for them. So if you’re on the call with the client and they seem super excited, this is your chance to confirm that by asking that question. The other question you can answer is, are you ready to move forward? This is a great question because it seems like it’s a yes or no, but it’s really an open-ended question because the client might give us more information about why they haven’t made the decision to move forward yet. And that’s good for us to know because we can use that in our favor to again, address those objections as they have come up.

(15:09):

So these are just a couple of tips to keep your conversions high, but it’s important to remember that you’re not always going to get a yes, even if you are a master at sales and you rock it with client qualification, you will not always get a yes. So my recommendation here is always responding to a no professionally. First of all, no doesn’t mean never the client might not be ready now. They might not be ready for you, or they have to go back and talk about it within their teams. So there’s no reason to burn a bridge with a potential client when they say no, but please respect their wishes.

(15:51):

If they say no at the end of a call that they don’t need a proposal or that your price is way too far off, what could work for them, just honor that and then choose to move on. No to the bigger project is also not necessarily a no to a smaller gig. Sometimes you need to get your foot in the door. So maybe what you proposed on the call was too big of a project for them. And maybe there’s a really great way for them to get started and build up that confidence and trust in working with you. So if you sense that in their responses, you can still maneuver the conversation to be a win for you in that particular way. So good luck. It’s time for you to get out there and start improving your conversions. I’d love for you to check out the sales call masterclass. If you think it’s a fit for you, it’s exactly how I approach all of my sales calls. Good luck. Go out there and convert some clients and make more money.

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.