Sales isn’t in my blood.
I'm naturally introverted and anti-social by nature.
So when I hopped into UX writing freelance, sales scared the bejesus out of me.
You mean, I don’t just have to talk to strangers, but I have to convince them they should pay me?
I saw sales as this über-intimidating mountain I needed to climb.
Turns out, I was wrong.
After stumbling through many awkward sales calls, I thought, what if I just try talking to a potential client like anyone else.
After all, we're all humans.
Once I shed the image of the client being in the driver's seat and seeing them as someone to impress, sales just became about having a conversation.
After a while, I realized the sales call had very little to do with me.
Heck, in the good calls, I don't even talk that much.
The goal of a sales call is to figure out how you can solve someone's problem.
The best salespeople aren't the ones that are obviously salespeople — they're the problem-solvers who are genuinely there to help people if their solution is the right fit.
From one former sales phobic to (potentially) a current one, I've picked up 7 simple strategies to crush sales calls:
- Do your homework
- Take control of the conversation early
- Know your unique selling proposition
- Don't focus on your process
- Never mention pricing
- Ask to follow up with a proposal
- Use notes!
1. Do your homework
This is maybe the one correlation client sales calls have with looking for full-time jobs.
Before you even apply for a full-time job, most people do a bit of research about the company to figure out if they wanna work there.
They look at things like the company’s mission, the number of employees, do they have money in the bank…
You should look up the same info for client sales calls, but it's from a different lens.
You're not doing research about a potential client to learn if you want to work with them (although, it may inform that,) you're doing your homework, so you show up to the call prepared.
It'll impress the heck out of a potential client if you show up and congratulate them on their recent round of funding and ask them how their new product launch is going.
It shows that you have a genuine interest in the company and are already familiar with where they stand, which builds trust with a potential client right off the bat, giving you a leg up within minutes.
Imagine two sales calls where you're the client.
Freelancer Franny hops on, introduces herself, and asks you how your weekend was. After a bit of chitchat, she asks to learn about you and what your company does.
Nothing wrong with that.
But now, consider how Consultant Carol handles the first 2 minutes of the call.
Consultant Carol says hi, how are you, and congratulates you on your recent marketing campaign. She compliments the campaign tagline and asks how it's performing with your customers. You chat about that for a couple more minutes, and Carol leads into asking more about your company's problem and adds color to how she might be able to solve it.
Carol took the reins, and if you're like me, I'd feel very comfortable in Carol's hands. She seems curious, engaged, and proactive.
Again, there was nothing terribly wrong with how Franny handled the conversation, but it didn't leave the same impression as Carol's.
When you're doing your homework, some things you might wanna dig for are:
- Recent campaigns
- Recent rounds of funding
- Recent job promotions
- Tenure at the company
- Recent product launches
- Recent press
- What problem the current product solves
2. Take control of the conversation early
This is totally up Consultant Carol's alley.
There are two ways sales calls can go:
- The client takes charge and explains the company, what they need, and starts asking you questions about your experience, leaving questions for you at the end.
- You take charge and ask the client what problem they're trying to solve, dig into why that's a problem, pitch how you can solve their problem, and ask if you can send a proposal outlining a game plan.
Scenario one is what most freelancers do.
It's good enough, but it lets the client determine how the call goes.
When you take control of the call, you can cater its direction to how you're able to solve the client's problem.
If you spend the first half of the sales call learning about the client's problem, you can spend the second half answering (with the utmost specificity) why you are uniquely qualified to solve the specifics of their problem.
Vs. if you share your expertise in the beginning, you're not gonna know what strengths to play to.
Some questions you might ask to learn about what the client's problem is are:
- What’s the current situation?
- Why is this a priority now?
- What goals or outcomes do you want to achieve?
- How should your business improve as a result of this?
- What would happen if you did nothing?
- How much are you planning on investing to solve this problem?
3. Know your unique selling proposition
This is your “pitch.”
It's what you're gonna follow up with after you get a solid understanding of what your potential client's problem is (the previous point.)
Your unique selling proposition is just what makes you uniquely qualified to solve their problem.
It could be:
- You've done 15 similar projects and have a playbook proven to get XYZ result
- You specialize in XYZ industry and have worked with players from XYZ to XYZ
- You're certified in XYZ industry
- You've worked with XYZ competitors in their space and know precisely what customers want
If you're just starting out, and even if you're a vet, developing your personal brand will help you define what makes you a unique UX writing freelancer.
Once you have your unique selling proposition, you need to formulate a pitch.
You don't have to memorize it or anything, but I like to write a few bullet points that help me to speak to what makes me different.
When I had fintech niche, my pitch went something like this:
- In my 3 years of fintech experience with companies like Chime and Afterpay, I’ve found most people struggle to trust and feel safe using fintech apps
- I explain complicated, intimidating concepts to give people peace of mind about fintech apps’ safety and security to make decision-making easy
Then I cater the rest to how I could specifically solve that client’s problem.
4. Don't talk about your process
Clients don't care about the nitty-gritty of how you solve their problem, they just want to know it's a sure thing you will solve the problem.
Imagine you're that millennial who just bought their first house in Colorado and are getting your floors refinished.
Contractor Bob comes in and tells you all about the chemicals he'll use, explains his approach to sanding wood, and shares his process for mixing stains.
Contractor Mary comes in and says she can complete your job in 3 days with no mess or smells, and shows you the job she completed for your neighbor using the stain you like.
Knowing about the chemicals and process went over your head because you, reasonably, don’t know diddly-squat about refinishing floors. You just need someone you can trust to do the job the way you want it — someone who is confident and gets your vision.
Give a potential client confidence that you know what they care about, and you can bring that to the table.
5. Never mention pricing
There are two reasons why you want to avoid mentioning the price of a project on the call:
- You don't want to force yourself to think on the spot
- Your proposal will sell your price with supporting evidence
Your proposal can show, but all you can do on a call is tell.
Your proposal is a sales asset, not a project plan, and when done well, it'll make your price seem like a no-brainer.
6. Ask to follow up with a proposal
You've taken control of the conversation, deeply understood the potential client's problem, and explained exactly how you're the solution.
You bring it home by asking to send them a proposal that’ll outline your strategy and approach.
The keyword here is ask.
You don't want to assume the client is on board and spend a buncha time making a proposal they didn't even want.
Asking also makes them feel like they're choosing to receive it.
By choosing, they took ownership of the decision.
This slight psychological tweak makes a difference.
7. User notes!
On every single video call I'm on, I have my notes up in a different window.
It's totally not cheating (in my book, at least.)
Having notes up mostly just gives me peace of mind that I don't have to keep all the info in my head.
I actually rarely reference them, but having that crutch available is the confidence boost I usually need.
Happy UX writing 🖖