Oct 4 / Matt Saunders

Freelancer Sales Tips (+ 3 Things to STOP Doing)

I asked my LinkedIn network for their BEST freelancer sales advice. They did not disappoint! Here I share their wise words with you, so you can confidently market and sell your freelance services.
Time and again my freelance coaching clients tell me that getting clients is one of their biggest challenges.

It doesn't surprise me at all. And frankly, it's getting harder. There are more freelancers in this post-pandemic world, and with the constant threat of economic turmoil lots of businesses seem quite hesitant to invest in marketing at this point (a HUGE mistake if you ask me).

This perfect storm of increased competition + fiscal uncertainty means that you're going to want all the freelance sales tips you can get. That's why I asked my awesome network, and I'm pleased to share their advice with you here.
[Watch] these 3 things are harming your sales as a freelancer

Tip #1: know who you are

Lightbox with the words "this is who I am" written on it
A lot of freelance advice centres around the idea of "knowing your worth". I get that, but I personally prefer not to attribute my worth to a monetary figure.

A better way to sell your services as a freelancer is to dial into who you are. Before you write this idea off as some fuzzy self-development mindset stuff, consider this: if you know who YOU are, then you can connect more easily with your ideal client.

Greater connection = more sales.

Freelance consultant Kate Skelton says "be yourself. You'll form much more positive relationships with the right kind of people if you're not pretending to be something you're not. I regularly make silly jokes and have some fun on calls with prospective clients, because that's my personality, but also to gauge whether we will have the kind of working relationship that works for us both."

I love this advice. So many of us wear a mask when talking to clients, pretending to be some warped version of "professional" in an effort to impress. Rarely does it work, and even when it does, we don't often feel good about it. 

We know when we're being inauthentic (and they probably do too).

Copywriter Meghan Downs advice builds on this: "don't be afraid to put people off working with you. It's almost as important as attracting the right people. If someone can say they're definitely not right for your service, it avoids time-wasting."

Marketer Freya Swanson Costello agrees: "don't be afraid to walk away from a client if they're not the right fit. It won't make you happy, you won't enjoy the work and your mental health will suffer."

So freelancing tip #1 here is simply: know yourself in order to find those best-fit clients. So think about it, who are you?

[My Dream Client Playbook has a framework to help you uncover and articulate your values, crucial to finding dream clients]
Above: don't be afraid to turn down a prospect if they're not the right fit for you. Sure, you want to sell, but not to the wrong people.

Tip #2: Be a niche expert

Text saying fuel your passion
I personally believe that niching down is really important if you want to build a sustainable and scalable business. When you position yourself as an expert in a specific area of focus, selling is much easier and you can generally command a higher rate as a specialist.

Business strategist Edward Beaman agrees: "specialise. You'll stand out to the right people and be seen as an expert. As a result, you can charge higher prices and work faster while doing what you enjoy most."

When you niche down you know your clients better than anyone else does. That's gold. And when you can articulate your client's challenges as well as they can - if not better - you can create done-for-you services that they can just buy.

WooCommerce consultant Neil Matthews says: "create productised services, they are really easy to sell as upsells on custom work"

When you've niched to a level where projects are predictable, you can easily offer "productised" services. This is a way to deliver your services in a more structured and repeatable way.

Therefore tip #2 in my freelancer sales advice list is to consider niching down to become an expert. You won't regret it, and even if you find it's not for you, you can always change direction because nothing is set in stone. It's your business, after all!
Watch: 3 steps to finding your niche as a freelancer

Tip #3: Sell the outcome, not the service

Two jigsaw pieces fitting together
I have taken this tip word for word from Webflow developer Peter Wright. Despite this advice being one of those things we tend to hear all the time - it needs to be said repeatedly because it is so often overlooked!

Here's what is meant by "sell the solution, not the service".

When speak with a prospect resist the urge to get into the detail right away, even if the client wants to. I've been on many calls where the client wants to get into the functional requirements of the project and the detail of the service. But you are not selling a website, or a logo, or some copywriting; you are selling an outcome. Your service is simply the bridge to the outcome.

Take the time to diagnose before you prescribe. Yes, this can slow the thing down, but high ticket services aren't built on quick transactions. Create the relationship by putting what you do aside for a moment so you can sit with the person and their challenges.
Above: how to stop selling your service and get focused on selling the outcome

These things are killing your sales

Woman holding head in hands at laptop
So far we've looked at three tips to help you make sales as a freelancer. But what should you stop doing?

Let's imagine you're about to get on a call with a potential client. Exciting! But, let's be honest, a little nerve-racking. Here are three things to avoid in a sales conversation.

1. Stop doubting yourself

The biggest sales killer for freelancers is self-doubt. The unfortunate truth is that if you're not 100% comfortable in your own skin when speaking to a client, they're going to sense that "something's up".

Now, we all get nervous. So the best thing you can do is acknowledge it. Take a deep breath. Slow down. Maybe even tell the client how you're feeling. This is a very human way to connect, and it can actually turn the whole thing around for you.

So, in the words of the immortal book, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. And don't let that self-doubt capsize your ship.

2. Stop trying to sell high-ticket only

When I used to sell websites, the starting price was £5,000. Sometimes, a client is simply not ready to invest that sort of money. Rather than let them go entirely, try adapting what you offer so you can be of service right away. Perhaps you can conduct a low-fee audit, update or refresh their current brand/website/copy or run a paid strategy workshop with their team.

Basically, stop making it difficult to work with you by only have one service. Diversify, and see how things change.

3. Stop focusing on "need"

Back in 2012 we put together a new website for a client. Around that time, mobile-first design was relatively new. We were proud of our work, and we knew that this modern website would be fit for years to come.

The client didn't give a hoot. What they actually cared about was the ability to edit the banners on the homepage.

When improving your sales skills it's critical to recognise the difference between a want and a need. Whilst the client absolutely needed a mobile-friendly website, they would never have requested it. Respond to the want and you'll sell a whole mot more easily.

Get into the top 1% of freelancers

Man smiling at laptop
These freelancer sales tips might seem piecemeal but if you explore them deeply, you'll transform your business. What's more, the three tips are directly linked:

If you take the time to understand your internal drivers by examining your values (tip #1) you can position yourself as an expert in a particular field (tip #2) which will help you to focus on the solution, not the service (tip #3).

If you've enjoyed this article consider downloading The Dream Client Playbook. It contains an end-to-end system for developing a purposeful solo business that you genuinely love.
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