In business, generating leads, and then turning those leads into sales is one of the biggest problems businesses face. While many business owners understand the importance of keeping up-to-date with current sales trends, they often lack the practical knowledge required to convert leads.
There’s no doubt that it’s difficult. Yet, it’s not impossible. In this guide, I’ll share sales techniques you can apply to generate more inquiries for your business and then turn those inquiries into sales.
The guide covers everything from how to position yourself in the market through to creating an attractive service offer and sales techniques to use in meetings. Now you know what to expect, let’s dive right in.
1. Create a Hard-To-Resist Service Offering
If you want to acquire customers easily, you need to convince people that you are the person they want to work with. It’s easy to write that tip down in a blog post, but hard to implement the strategy in the real world.
I recommend you start by positioning yourself as a freelancer or a business that specializes in a niche. In my case, I specialize in content marketing for SaaS companies.
There are a lot of benefits to positioning yourself as an expert. They include:
- Reducing the number of freelancers you are competing against
- It helps you define who to target when undertaking sales
- You can tailor your marketing to your ideal customer
- It’s easier to charge a premium for your service
- Service provision is easier. You’re often doing the same thing for different clients
Hopefully, those reasons I listed above should help you understand why niching down is a good business practice.
The second thing you should do, which will underpin the success of any sales techniques you attempt, is to make a hard-to-resist service offering. My team and I spent a lot of time designing our service offering.
Here are a couple of the things that make us unique as a content marketing agency:
- Clients don’t sign a contract. Most agencies lock clients into a 6-12 month contract
- Only charge for guest posts that are published. Few SEO agencies charge on results
- Offer SEO consulting services for free. In my experience, agencies assign one month of a contract to consulting
Thanks to our service proposition, customer acquisition has been relatively easy. We’re securing an average of two new clients a month and doubling the order value of three-quarters of our clients within the first three months of working with us.
That’s the power of an attractive value proposition.
You should try and design a service proposition that helps you stand out in a crowded market. If you can’t make your service seem special, you will struggle to acquire clients.
2. Use “How-To” Guides To Establish Your Credibility
When a potential client considers working with you, one of the first things they will do is browse your website and Google your name to see what comes up. You know this will happen. You should have a strategy in place that considers these actions.
Most freelancers and businesses will create case studies to establish your credibility. Another common approach is to use testimonials and present the logos of famous clients on sales pages.
I suggest backing this up by creating 3-5 “how-to” guides on your blog or authority sites around your area of expertise. These guides form a reference point for people interested to learn more about how you work. You can also leverage lead generation tools within your blog posts, which will allow you to capture warm leads on autopilot.
Here’s a roadmap on how to get started:
- Identify relevant topics that your ideal customer would find interesting and is relevant to your skillset
- Research content created by competitors around the topic. Create an article that is just as informative as theirs (it doesn’t need to be longer)
- Use a grammar checker to review your content and catch typos or grammatical errors. Here’s a great article from First Site Guide on selecting an appropriate grammar checker for your site.
- Publish the content on your blog. You can always pitch the same ideas to authority sites at a later point in time
The content you produce will fill an information gap about how you work and your knowledge of your niche. Moreover, you can profit from this content immediately. In the next section, I’ll reveal a sales technique you can use that leverage “how-to” guides to get new clients.
In the last two years, I’ve written close to 100 guest posts on topics related to digital marketing. That content continually generates fresh inquires for my services.
3. Run a Cold Outreach Campaign
One of the most effective methods of generating leads, especially if you are just starting out as a freelancer, is cold outreach. Cold outreach is a core part of my sales and marketing strategy at the agency I run and is one of our most effective customer acquisition strategies.
The basic premise of cold outreach is simple.
Here is an overview of the process broken down into three steps:
- Identify businesses that fit your customer persona
- Figure out who you should contact (generally involves browsing LinkedIn or Google My Business)
- Contact the person at the company and offer your services. Send a message and a couple of reminder emails
- Schedule a meeting with the prospect and pitch your services
In this guide for Sumo, I discussed how to run an online networking campaign. I discuss how to make a shortlist of businesses, identify the relevant person in a company, and then connect with them.
That’s the theory. Below is an example of a cold outreach campaign I ran and the response from one of the people I mailed.
He became a client.
Most freelancers and businesses avoid cold outreach campaigns. They think they’re a waste of time because nobody responds. Moreover, they don’t want to bug people.
Don’t make that mistake. Cold outreach is effective.
You’ve got a great service to offer. You can use cold outreach to promote your service to people who fit your ideal customer persona.
4. Improve the Way You Manage Sales Meetings
The last sales technique I shared will help you get fresh leads. In this section, I’ll share some sales techniques that you can apply in your meeting to turn that prospect into a customer.
The most important piece of general sales advice I can share is to focus on the goals of your client. During the meeting, you need to show that you understand what they want and you can deliver on those targets.
There are a lot of ways you can discover the goals of a lead. One thing I recommend is to send a short questionnaire to the person before the meeting. The questionnaire can have around ten questions. You should ask client things like:
- What is your budget for the project?
- How will you measure the success of this project?
- What are your Key Performance Indicators (KPI)?
- What is your ideal timeline for the project?
The answer to these questions will provide you with insights about what they want to achieve. It’s great to have this information before the sales meeting because it means your pitch is aligned with their goals.
During the sales meeting, more time listening than talking. The quote from Epictetus is rather apt; “we have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
The more you listen, the better you’ll understand the needs of the person.
There are other sales techniques you can use in a meeting to increase the chance of a conversion. For example, there is the Yes Ladder.
According to Cialdini, humans are naturally driven to remain consistent in their words, attitudes, and actions. So if you get your prospect to say “Yes” to small asks, they are more likely to answer “Yes” to your bigger asks. The Yes Ladder works great for selling to groups.
One sales technique I like to use in a meeting is scarcity and urgency. I always emphasize that they’re the person will have to wait before we start working together. If I have another client starting, I share that information as the reason for a delay.
I also like to reverse the interview sometimes and make the client sell themselves to me. Getting them to justify why they should work with you can help increase desire.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to conduct a sales meeting, check out my guide on Mailshake. I share a step-by-step process I’ve used to close Fortune 500 companies.
5. Sending A Proposal & Following Up
The final step in the sales process for most freelancers and businesses is to send a business proposal. Personally, I recommend you talk through the sales proposal with a prospect either in person or on a call.
During the meeting, discuss the proposal and get their feedback. Assuming they are happy with the offer, send it across to the client. If you pitch to a small business, you might want to provide an incentive to sign while they are on the call or within 24 hours of the call. This is something that the founder of King Kong Agency, Sabri Subi, suggests in his book, Sell Like Crazy.
I’ve never tried this approach or needed to. However, I can see the value in the strategy.
When you have secured a client, do everything that you can to make them happy. Most successful freelancers and business owners understand that keeping a client happy is as much about people skills as it is about the service you provide. If the customer is satisfied, they will keep coming back.
Landing More Clients
In this guide, I shared a step-by-step approach to generate leads and turn those leads into clients. If you are struggling with customer acquisition, I recommend you start by niching down and positioning yourself as an expert. Implementing this strategy will help reduce the number of competitors.
Second, create a great service offering. Your service offering is one of the most critical elements of any sale. Try to provide something that is unique. You can make your service offering more attractive by reducing the risk to the client or increasing the value of the offer (you can either offer more support or reduce the cost of your service).
Once you have created a great service offering, test the market response with cold outreach. If your sales outreach doesn’t work, there’s either something wrong with your targeting or your service offering is less attractive than you think. Test, tinker, and improve.
With the right offer, you should generate inquiries for your service. The sales meeting is a chance to turn your leads into clients. I hope that by applying these sales techniques to your business, you will generate more leads and secure more clients. Now it’s over to you — best of luck implementing these tips.