This contribution comes from Matty McLain, a freelance sales pro who reached out to me with some ideas on how side hustlers can get more clients.
After a little back and forth, it turned into the action-packed guide below. Enjoy!
You can do the work, but can you get the work?
Step 1: Realize that selling is a huge part of your hustle.
We know that the attorneys, window washers, and web designers who earn the most money aren’t necessarily the ones who do the best work. Those who earn the most are those who know how to sell their service.
If you are nervous about selling, this exercise will help.
Answer these 5 questions:
What’s the action you need to take?
“Making sales calls.”
What’s the pain associated with making sales calls?
“I’m nervous and prospecting is hard and I break into a cold sweat.”
What pleasure have you gotten from not making sales calls?
“I get to stay comfortable and not stress myself.”
What does it cost you if you don’t make the calls like you know you should?
“My confidence around making calls and getting new clients will continue to suck. My income stays flat. I can’t afford my kid’s braces or that trip to Cancun my wife wants to take or that expensive gym membership. So my kid will hate me after he earns the nickname “Bucktooth,” my wife will resent another year of no vacation, and I’ll stay fat with high blood pressure.”
What will you gain if you follow through on your action?
“If I make the calls I will win more clients. My confidence will go through the roof, which will only draw even more clients to me. My kids and spouse will love me and I’ll end up with a rock hard healthy body.”
Step 2: Write a killer call script for new prospects and leads.
Most people have two thoughts about making cold calls:
- “The thought of making cold calls makes me sick at my stomach.”
- “I don’t want to sound like a robot.”
Do you remember when you were a kid and your mom would be talking to your grandma on the phone? She’d hold the phone out to you and say, “Come say hi to Grandma, honey.”
Making sales calls is as easy as talking to Grandma on the phone IF you create a call script to work with.
Before you write this off because the thought of cold calling makes you sick, realize that cold calling doesn’t mean going through the phone book calling random people.
If you’re a blogger, why aren’t you calling/emailing a list of potential cross promotion partners? If you’re a web designer, you could call on CPAs and ask if they would promote you to all their small business clients. They could become your salesforce! We all have calls (or emails) to make.
Having a script in front of you does not make you sound like a robot. It builds your confidence and turns you into Superman. I recommend something short and sweet that hits on their biggest pain point and offers value.
Practice, practice, practice saying this script to your friends, your wife, your dog, whoever.
Sample Sales Script (Feel free to adapt to your own needs)
There could be an entire course on writing a script. Here’s one great example from an article written by Geoffrey James in Inc. Magazine.
Hi, John. Jim here from Acme Cost Control.
Identify yourself immediately, or the contact will hang up on you.
Did I catch you at an OK time?
This question demonstrates respect for the person’s time and an understanding that your phone call is not the only thing on his or her plate for the day. You may feel that asking this question sets you up to hear a no, but don’t worry: Whether someone says yes or no or “No, but go ahead,” the next statement makes the response entirely moot.
John, I’m sure you’re busy and I want to respect your time, so I’ll be brief.
This statement still allows you to continue regardless of how the person initially responded to you, rather than scheduling another time to call. This is a good thing, because you’ve finally got a prospect on the phone, so the last thing you want to do is hang up and attempt to catch him or her again.
The Reason for Your Call
The reason for my call is this. We just saved Universal Transport an additional $12 million in shipping costs, so I thought it was important enough to let you know, since every company has an obligation to their customers and shareholders to reduce expenses.
The purpose of these sentences is to create a compelling reason for the person on the other end to continue the conversation. Note that you’ve said nothing about how the benefit was achieved. At this point, the customer doesn’t care about your specific product; the customer only wants to know what to expect if the conversation continues.
Now, you may be wondering if we can do this for you, too. Well, depending on what you’re currently doing, I don’t know if you have a need for our services.
This eliminates a potentially adversarial posture, lowers the person’s resistance, and brings down his or her guard. It lets customers know you’re not trying to force down their throat something they may not need or may not be ready for.
But with your permission, let’s talk for a few minutes to determine if there is anything we’re doing that you could benefit from.
This statement opens up a dialogue so you can get permission from the prospect to have a preliminary conversation.
Would you be comfortable spending just a few minutes with me on the phone now, if I stick to this timetable?
This establishes a timeline, letting the prospect know that you’re taking accountability for the length of the call, that you respect the person’s time and won’t keep him or her on the phone.
Once you have gotten permission to continue, you now have a prospective customer engaged in a conversation with you — and you can then determine whether there’s a good fit.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
Build a tracking sheet on Google drive so you can share it with your accountability partner(s), your coach, or your mastermind group.
It should look similar to this:
You want to know how many calls it takes to get an appointment and how many appointments it takes to make a sale. That way, six months from now, you can just do the math…
Calls required to get a solid lead: 11
Solid lead follow ups to get appointment: 5
Appointments required to land a client: 3
Average new client value per year: $9,800
Say you want to increase your income by $30,000 next year; you just work backwards.
If every client is worth an average of $9,800 per year, you need 3 new clients to hit your goal. ($9,800 per client x 3 = $29,400)
Since you close 1 client from every 3 appointments, that means you’ll need 9 appointments. One in 5 leads turns into an appointment, so that’s 45 leads. And how many calls will it take to generate those 45 leads? A grand total of 495 calls.
I can tell you it takes about an hour to make 20 cold calls. If you time block and make 20 calls every morning from 9am to 10am (or on your lunch break or 5-6am or 9-10pm via email), you would complete the 495 calls in five weeks. So, if the example above fits you, you just made scored $30,000 worth of new business in five weeks, investing just an hour a day!
Step 4: Create a huge leads list.
There are 7 billion people on this planet and only a handful of them are your clients. Your mission is to get more of those 7 billion to be your clients.
A leads list consists of contact information about people or companies that should be your clients. You have two options for putting this list together.
Option 1: You build the list yourself
Start by identifying characteristics of your best clients:
- What industry are they in?
- How large are they?
- Do they need to be geographically close to you?
- What problem do you solve for them?
Once you zero in on that client profile, you can start looking for leads that fit the description. Find them in online directories or trade associations they belong to. Also, don’t forget to ask your current clients if they have referrals that you can add to your list.
Script to Ask for Referrals
“Hey Stacey, I’ve enjoyed doing this work for you guys. I’m looking to grow my business over the next few months and wanted to ask… do you know of another small law firm like yours who could use my services?”
And as you find those leads, start building them in to your spreadsheet. For example, let’s say I built custom websites for small transportation companies. I would build a list like this:
This list should NEVER run out of names.
Option 2: Pay someone else to build the list for you
There are many companies that specialize in this. You give them the specifics on who your target customer is and they produce a large list of leads for you. Price ranges and details vary widely.
Step 5: Go for it!
You have to time block your schedule EVERY DAY to do this. In my experience 9am to 10am is the best time of day to block this out.
Remember that your business is what it is today because of the actions you were taking 90 days ago. What do you want your business to look like in 90 days?
You will get better. I promise.
And then it gets easier.
Because after 6 months or so, its a numbers game.
By using your tracking doc, you will know your stats for how many calls and appointments it takes to land a new client. At that point you start to have more control over your income.
And then you can work to improve each stage of your selling. You can start tweaking those stages with questions:
- How can that first phone call or email improve to get more response?
- How can your follow up calls be sharper and more impressive?
- How can your sales presentation and proposal get better to close more business?
This is the skill set that most of us were never taught. I promise if you put some time into this it will return to you many times over. If you master this process you can write your own ticket.
You can live anywhere you want and create so much more freedom in your life.
Matty McLain has sold everything from websites and windows to Botox to business jets.
He believes everyone needs a side hustle. Matty has worked with over 300 freelancers, owners, and the self-employed helping them develop a simple system to get, keep, and cultivate clients. He started a community for freelancers who want to refine their skills and learn what none of us were taught; how to sell.
Because let’s face it, your mom paid for swim lessons when she should’ve paid for sales training.
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