The 1 closing trick you need to know that will get you more consultancy clients
How many of you know Chris Do? — I can possibly write a paragraph about him but in short, Chris Do is an Emmy award-winning designer, director, CEO and Chief Strategist of Blind and the founder of The Futur. In summary, he’s awesome.
A few days ago he uploaded an Instagram story asking people to quit the small talk when asking for advice from someone they admire — so I took my chances and messaged him.
To my surprise, he replied.
How to get clients.
Four words; every single freelancer, consultant and gig worker’s struggle.
This got me thinking, and I thought I’d ask my tight-knit Instagram audience if they wanted to read about this — the results were not surprising.
How to get clients is a complicated question but the answer according to me is just two simple things:
- Either go looking for them, or build a strong personal brand so they reach out to you
- Build strategic partnerships with industry folks who work with you collaboratively
There are only a limited number of ways to ‘get clients’
And, surprise, no surprise.
You can get a client, but not get the deal.
And, here’s where we go wrong. Running a business is a numbers game which means you need to make the best use of the opportunity with everyone who walks through your door.
Every smart freelancer is a great marketer and salesperson — they know what the prospect is looking for, and they have the presence of mind to know what to pitch, when.
10 sales calls = 4 interested people = 2 projects. It’s math.
Here’s the sales skill every freelancer needs.
The single most effective trick to getting more clients is to make each conversation about your client, not about you.
You are a catalyst to their success. You are an enabler to their success. You will help them get to success.
There, I said it.
Simple to say, but to execute this takes a ton of practice.
In this article, I’m going to share what’s worked for me when closing leads.
Here’s your hitchhikers guide to closing leads; better, faster, quicker:
- Define the problem statement in depth
- Understand the role you play in solving the said problem
- Position yourself as the best solution to their problem
- Package your offerings so that it’s attractive for your lead
- End the call with the same enthusiasm you started with
Ready to dive into each of these points?
- Define the problem statement in depth
How many of us like to believe we are experts? — All of us.
How many of us are actually experts? — None of us.
When you’re on a prospecting call, you need to bunker down from your ‘expert’ position and convert into an empathetic friend. The reason I say this is because when you are an ‘expert’ you tend to act with authority — which is not always the right thing to do.
Even if you know it internally, don’t show it externally. Humbleness.
When you’re an empathetic friend, you listen to your counterpart, you let them talk more than you, and you are open to actively listen to what they have to say — as a great friend would.
Friends ask what the matter is, then follow up with potential solutions after listening to them.
When you’re on a prospecting call, let your prospect speak. It should be a 60–40 ratio. The more you allow them to speak, the more information you can extract leading to you learning more about what their need is, rather than you speaking endlessly.
Most of us love talking and jumping into the pitch as soon as possible, and that is detrimental.
Here’s how you get your prospect to speak:
2. Understand the role you play in solving the said problem
Once you’ve given them a fair share of time to speak, start asking inquisitive questions. You’re there to poke and prod.
Some examples of great questions are:
- Are you having problems with X that your competitors are not?
- What are the results you want to achieve and how do you want to achieve them?
- What motivated you to search for a solution now?
- Which metrics would you use to evaluate the success of my solution?
- What are the consequences of not solving this problem?
Did you notice a common trend?
All of these questions are
- Don’t have a bias attached
- Conducive to follow up questions
- Don’t lead with an assumption
Psychologically, this is called the Socratic Method of questioning. Created by this very cool dude, Socrates, who was a Greek philosopher from Athens. The hyperlinked article is a wonderful research paper on the method of questioning.
Once you’ve asked smart questions, then comes your time to shine as the best possible solution to their problem. You’re the person who takes them from 0 to solution in the most streamlined way possible.
As they answer these questions, make a note of what they’re saying, along with points that get repeated.
Then, indulge in fruitful conversation where you use their verbiage to talk to them, making it appear like ‘you get them’ — every client’s dream, is it not?
Once you talk their language back to them, with your solutions package, you’re winning their hearts.
This brings us to the next point.
3. Position yourself as the best solution to their problem
When you’re talking about your services and offerings, your client is looking for these three things
- do you have the knowledge to solve my problem?
- are you someone who understands the actual problem?
- will you and I be able to work together?
Now, when you are having this conversation, here’s where the magic happens. Here are some phrases you can use to position yourself as the best solution:
- I hear what you’re saying, I can do X which will help you solve “keywords they mentioned”
- Last month, I worked with a client just like yours who had X problem and we solved using a,b,c and I’m certain I would be able to do the same for you as well.
- I believe we can solve this dilemma of X by doing a,b,c — those have worked in the past for my clients; what are your thoughts?
Reassurance + your offerings + how you can serve them best.
You have to meet them halfway, and not make it about you. Remember what I said earlier?
How do you make it about them, but still satisfy your business needs? — here’s how.
4. If ‘Always be closing’ is your mantra, know your packages by heart
Being a freelancer, I’ve realised that sometimes you get clients with deep pockets who are willing to pay you what you ask. That’s rainbows and unicorns.
But, you also get clients you want to work with who aren’t willing to shell out as much. That’s cherry pie.
If you’re in a position where the client does have deep pockets, your goals should be to service the client end-to-end. This means you have a ‘premium package’
For example: If you are a graphic designer, your premium package would be graphic designing for 50 images with a 2-day turnaround and you’ll handle posts and stories.
But, if you are conversing with a client without deep pockets, you’ll have a ‘down-sell package’
For example: You’ll provide 30 images, in batches of 10, every 7 days.
When you know your upsell and downsell packages, you have a solution that can be tailored to the client’s needs. They don’t need to know this.
Therefore, you need to do the homework before you even get on a call.
At this point, you must be wary that a down-sell package does not mean you charge below your normal rate, it’s just a more flexible package with a little more room for you to pick up some other clients on the way.
An upsell package is priced 10–30% higher than what you normally would charge and here you are fixing upon expectations and delivery timelines with stiffness — if you promise, you must deliver.
In either case, your quality of output should never suffer. Your client should never feel like they got gypped by going for the down-sell package.
Now once you put forth your offer, it’s time to take two deep breaths and wait for the final conversations before ending the call.
The ball is in their court once you’ve given them the options.
5. End the call with the same enthusiasm you started with, despite the outcome
Not every call you’ll have will end on a positive ‘let’s move forward’ direction. There will be instances where you aren’t the right fit for them for whatever reason.
If you are the right fit and things are looking positive: End with a follow-up action items list and a time to connect with them again.
“ Sounds great! I’ll send you X by Y, and let’s then get on a call on Z — does that sound good?”
When you leave without a direction, it displays a lack of proactiveness.
If you are not the right fit for whatever reason: End with a positive thought in their minds while also sowing the seed in your favour for the next project.
“I’m sorry we aren’t a good fit for each other, but when you are next looking for an X, I’d be more than happy to chat again. In any case, I’ll check back in with you in Y months to see how things are going.
This way, you’re reemphasizing what you do, and also telling them you’ll check-in in a few months so you maintain the relationship.
The trick to getting more clients through the funnel lies in being a great salesman first, then knowing your offerings by heart, and third, being super confident while you’re conversing.
Your funnel will have a hole if you aren’t moving every conversation towards a favourable close. There are instances you’ll have to walk away, and that’s okay.
Sales is not rocket science yet many of us trip up.
Here are some resources I found that would be a good read to sharpen your sales skills: