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Last updated on 2/6/20

Activate your prospection file to increase sales

You know how to find potential clients, you've collected them in a prospection file, and now you're ready to present your service offer to them. To transform your prospects into clients, you need to make contact with, i.e. activate this group of prospects, via the phases of prospection, eligibility and sending personalised business proposals.

To activate a marketing file, you need to:

  • Successfully make contact;

  • Conduct a discovery interview allowing the prospect to talk;

  • And schedule regular repetitions. 

Successfully make contact

Making contact consists of sending a cold email to somebody who hasn’t ever heard about your services. The goal is to arouse interest in this phase and get them to agree to a sales interview (discovery interview).

First of all, make sure you have the right contact person when sending your first email.

If you don’t have the name of the person concerned, you can contact somebody high up in the organisation chart and ask them to put you in touch.

Finally, work on the subject of your email. Avoid over-commercial formulae. You can also think up original sentences to arouse interest and increase the opening rate of your messages.

Here are some examples of subjects:

Conversation (Your First name) <> (The First name of your contact person)
Quick request
To work with (Company name)

Your initial contact email must be concise and contain the following components:

  • salutation addressed to your contact person (ideally using their first name);

  • hook with a sentence giving the context: why are you getting in touch with this prospect?

  • Your freelancer pitch; 

  • The value that you can deliver to your prospect;

  • A call to action to discuss things by phone.

Here’s an example of an initial contact email from a translator, to the co-founder of a start-up:

Subject: Your international development

Hello Luke (salutation).

I read in the press that your business, MegaJeux Company, has just raised funds to develop internationally, especially in the United States (hook).

I am an English > French translator specialising in the videogames industry (pitch), and I help companies like yours to adapt their message on various communication channels (website, blog, product sheets) to sell internationally (value).

I’d like to speak to you about your introduction to this new market. Are you available for a 20-minute call, this Thursday at 11 am, or Friday at 3 pm?



The goal of this stage is to get a reply. Ideally, the reply will be agreement to a telephone conversation. However, you might have to reply to objections before getting a meeting. We'll study objections later in this course.

Let the prospect talk during the discovery interview

When the prospect has accepted your request for a call, prepare your discovery interview. The goal at this stage is to find out if the prospect is eligible, what their needs are and if you can meet them.

As a freelancer and salesperson, you need to conduct this telephone interview by structuring its content and posing questions to your prospect. Active listening is key to understanding this potential client's unique needs and how you could best be of service. The ideal is to prepare a telephone interview script in advance, comprising the following:

  • Salutation

  • Personal presentation

  • Thanks for the call

  • Hook recalling the context of the call

  • Framing the time available for the telephone interview

  • The agenda for the meeting (structure used): questions then presentation of the business proposal

  • The prospect’s agreement to that agenda

  • Time for questions

  • Presentation of the proposal

  • Next stage

Here’s an example of Louise's telephone interview script:

“Hello Luke (salutation). I’m Louise, a freelance translator, we arranged a meeting (personal presentation). How are you?

Thank you for agreeing to this discussion (thanks). I think we could collaborate on your international development, and I would like to have a better understanding of your goals (hook).

We mentioned a 20-minute call. Is that still all right for you? (available time)

I suggest that we start with some questions, so that I can find out about your priorities, then I’ll tell you about my services. (agenda) Is that OK with you? (agreement)

(List of relevant questions)

Thank you for that information. I offer a number of services for businesses developing internationally: (list of proposals). What do you think about it?

What is the next step forward? (Next stage)”

The purpose of that call is based on the understanding of the prospect’s needs, in order to be able to write a tailored business proposal for them. Ask questions that will allow you to discover what motivates your prospects to purchase.

What are the types of need of freelancers’ clients?

On the face of it, prospects’ needs may seem simple. You’ll hope that they need services that you offer, which are “practical” (e.g. a logo). However, most sales are concluded for deeper reasons.

The purchasing decision always comes from one or several needs that can be grouped under the title “SMCPL”: Security, Money, Comfort, Pride and Leisure. This is also valid for freelance services.

  • Security: this can be either physical or mental. In this case, the prospect doesn’t want to take a risk and wants to protect themselves. For example, an insurance contract meets a need for security.

  • Money: this motive can be to earn it by creating value (for example by investing to increase their turnover), but also to make it by economising, which can generate a mindset of seeking low prices. For example, low-cost airline companies meet the money need. The client can also seek to optimise their expenditure using a value for money study.

  • Comfort: this need is embodied by the wish for simplicity, least amount of effort, improvement of daily life. For example, for a business, this can mean investing in software that saves them time. For an individual, e-commerce is a good example of this wish for comfort: the client can buy products from home 24 hours a day.

  • Pride: this motive calls upon a fundamental human need, that of social recognition. The client making a purchase through pride wants to feel important and to differentiate themselves from everyone else. For example, a company that wants to equip its sales team with luxury company cars, to look like a prosperous company to its clients.

  • Leisure: this is the motive that offers the client enjoyment, a product or service that’s fun, conviviality. Amusement parks are perfect examples of leisure needs.

Creation of a logo may meet a need for money since smooth visual communication reinforces the credibility of a brand and its potential to produce turnover. This can also meet a need for comfort, e.g. to communicate the value offered by the business visually, rather than through long explanations.

To discover your prospects’ needs, you need to ask questions. In this case, you can count on the EVE (Exploration, Validation and Engagement) questioning method:

  • Exploration: these questions identify the needs you’ll be able to respond to as a freelancer.

    For example:

    • Why have you agreed to a discussion with me?

    • What are your goals/priorities this year?

    • What are you doing? What does your company do? How can I help you with your assignments? 

    • What are you hoping for from a collaboration with a freelancer such as myself?

    • What criteria will you use to choose your service provider?

    • Have you already fixed a parameter for the project (budget, deadlines, assignments)?

    • Who will make the purchase decision?

  • Validation: these questions help assess whether the client is prepared to change and adapt their company to that change, with the goal of improving its performance, or resolving a problem. Very often, these questions are summaries of your understanding of the needs. For example: 

    • If I understand correctly, your website is not yet fully translated, despite your international launch, and you want to modify it as quickly as possible. Is that right?

  • Engagement: these questions allow the client to participate in decision-making by asking them to commit to an agreement in principle (moral engagement). For example:  If I offer to prioritise the translation of your entire site, and to deliver a final version to you within two weeks, would you sign?

Use this list of EVE questions to finalise your discovery call script and help discover the deep and practical needs of your prospects.

Take notes that include your prospects’ answers, and pay particular attention to the words used. You can also take up the exact terms used by the client in your discussions and your business proposal.

Reactivate the prospects in your marketing file

80% of sales require at least five repetitions. And, despite the figures, 92% of sales people give up after the first attempt at contact (Source: Propeller CRM).

Most salespeople don't like repetition and feel like they are upsetting thier prospects or appearing over-insistent. Nonetheless, it’s the role of a salesperson to follow their sales cycle and demonstrate their availability. Above all, remember that you have nothing to lose. The biggest risk is a “no”.

How to schedule your repetitions?

There’s no specific rule. Nevertheless, here are the methods used by sales professionals to gently reactivate their prospects:

  • Your reactivation must be proportional to the relationship you have with the prospect. Use your intuition to decide the how often and how you will contact your prospects again. For example, telephone calls are acceptable when you’re waiting for someone to come back to you about a contract that’s almost approved. However, it is less appropriate if you just want to secure a telephone interview. In that case, email would be more appropriate.

  • Note what clients indicate about their time to think things over. For example, if a client tells you they want to get in touch again in the following month, put on alert on your calendar, or in your CRM, and phone them at that time, as agreed.

  • Have you received the client’s permission to discuss things? If you haven’t yet had any interaction with them, and they don’t respond to your attempts to make contact, don’t repeat more than four times. Otherwise, it’s legitimate for you to reactivate that prospect until you get a response.

  • Schedule your reactivations at the right frequency. Here’s a system for the clients with whom you have previously interacted:

Day 1: Conversation with the prospect

J+1 (next day): Reactivate

J+3: Reactivate

J+7: Reactivate

J+14: Reactivate

J+30: Reactivate

Then, reactivate each month. You can schedule these reactivations in a calendar or on your CRM.

  • Alternate the content of your contact calls. You can send supplementary information, details, share your monitoring of the sector with your prospect, etc. You can also interact with your prospect on social networks, e.g. by supporting their publications. Finally, think of using original techniques, like fax or a postcard to arouse interest.

  • Open the conversation when you reactivate. Always add a question, a call to action or a next step at the end of your message. For example, you can suggest a fresh call to discuss your proposal with the call to action: “Are you available on Thursday at 10 am for a 15-minute call regarding our collaboration?”

You dare not recontact your prospect? Remember that they are certainly a busy person.

Let's recap!

Now you're ready to tailor how you present your services by customising your business proposal for a specific prospect.

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