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Last updated on 2/6/20

Prepare your sales pitch and build client relationships

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A major part of a marketing person’s success rests upon their preparation, particularly with regard to making contact, answering objections and preparing for the negotiation phase.

Being prepared gives you many advantages over the competition. Your presentation will be clear, concise and relevant. You’ll inspire confidence!

The goal of this chapter is to enable you to create your physical toolbox to save you time. Don’t hesitate to cut-and-paste the template pitches provided and adapt them to your line of business. This will help you increase your productivity, and allow you to prepare pitches that convert your prospects into clients.

To prepare your sales pitch in advance, you need to:

  • Draft ready-to-use templates (reference documents);

  • Prepare a list of the objections that you’re most likely to encounter, and ready answers;

  • Refine your negotiation techniques, in order to only sign contracts that you’ll be happy with (and that will also please your clients).

Your pitch is only the beginning of your client relationship; once you've successfully converted a prospect into a client, it's up to you to maintain and strengthen this new business relationship.

Draft the reference documents

You can prepare your sales pitch in advance, using adaptable templates. These documents can contain sentences ready to be personalised, or stages to include, so you don't forget anything in your canvassing.

Here’s a list of documents that you can prepare in advance:

  • The content of your cold prospecting emails;

  • Your reactivation emails;

  • A discovery call script, with a list of questions.

Some parts of the business proposal can be pre-drafted. However, bear in mind that this is a document to be personalised.

Use this preparation time to work on the conciseness of your documents. Don’t forget to go back to your sales pitch, which will find a place in all these templates.

Here are several examples that can give you ideas for creating your own templates.

Making contact

Cold email No. 1 (the right contact person):

Hello (First Name),

I hope you received my message. I wanted to contact you because (context).

I’m a freelance (role) and I offer (pitch).

I help clients like you to (value).

I suggest that we could have a 20-minute phone call to discuss this subject. Are you available for a call on Tuesday at 2 pm or on Thursday at 10 am?

Sincerely,

(Your First Name)

Cold email No. 2 (asking to be put in touch with the right contact person):

Hello (First Name),

My name is (your first name) and I’m a freelance (role). I work with companies like (company name) for (pitch).

(Value in one sentence.)

Could you put me in touch with the person in charge of this field in (company name) in order to talk about what I can contribute to your projects?

Sincerely,

(Your First Name)

Prospection reactivations: (when there’s never been any interaction with the prospect)

Reactivation No. 1.

Hello (First Name),

I’d like to let your team see how I can help (value) thanks to (pitch). Could you direct me towards the person to contact?

Thank you,

(Your First Name)

Reactivation No. 2.

Hello (First Name),

You must be busy, and I’m taking the opportunity to get my emails up to the top of the list! Could you, please, tell me who is the person responsible for (value) at (company name)?

Thank you for your help,

(Your First Name)

Reactivations (when there has already been some interaction)

Reactivation No. 1.

Hello (First Name), how are you? Could we schedule a call this week?

Reactivation No. 2.

Hello (First Name), I’d like to share this article with you as I think you’ll like it (link). It’s given me a few ideas with regard to your goals. So, I’d like to renew our conversation. When will you next be available?

Reactivation No. 3.

Hello (First Name), could we talk on the phone on Wednesday at 9 am or on Friday at 3 pm?

Discovery script

Hello, (Prospect’s first name or surname)?

This is (your first name), I support (sales pitch). We made an appointment to review your needs for (value contributed).

Thank you for agreeing to this discussion. We agreed on (X) minutes, is that still OK with you?

I suggest, in the first instance that I answer a few of your questions. That will enable me to understand your company’s issues. Then I will talk to you about the solutions that I propose to meet your needs. Is that alright with you?

(List of questions)

(Pitch and business proposal)

What do you think about it?

What are the next steps for us to take this forward?

Noted, I’ll get back to you with that in (X) days.

Have a good day.

Answer your prospects’ objections to achieve the sale

One objection is a sentence that indicates that your client is not prepared to purchase your service. This doesn’t mean a refusal or a firm “no”, that shows that your client isn’t interested in your proposal and won’t purchase.

Recognising an objection is important because sometimes answering is sufficient to convert a prospect into a client. Objections can arise at any time in the sales cycle. In answering them, you're reopening the dialogue and strengthening your chances of signing the contract.

The best way to answer an objection is to ask a question or reassure the client about their fear, always using a positive vocabulary.

Here are some examples of frequently encountered objections, and suitable answers, which can give you ideas to create your own table of sales pitches:

Frequent objections

Answers

I don’t have the time.

"I don’t need more than a few minutes to offer you a great deal of value."

I don’t have the money.

"Do you have budgetary constraints?”
“I can tell you about the proposal and, when you’re ready to invest, you’ll have an idea of all the options available.”

Your service is too expensive.

“Too expensive in relation to what?” 
“At what price would you purchase this service? If I offered it to you at that price, would you sign then?” 
“What would be better value for money for you?”

Send me the information

“I’ll be pleased to do so. However, those documents are complementary to my analysis over the phone. I can send them to you once we have finished our conversation.”

I don’t need anything.

“I’m sure that’s true. What I am proposing is a way of improving your day-to-day work. Think about all those things you don’t actually need, which would make you more comfortable in your life/work.”

I’m not interested.

“Why aren’t you interested?”

I already have a supplier.

“How are you getting along at the moment with that supplier?” 
“I’m not surprised that you weren’t waiting for my call to find new suppliers (smile). However, I’d like to propose something new (value) to you.”

I need to think about it.

“What are the issues you need to think about?”

We don’t work with freelancers.

“Why don’t you work with freelancers?” 
“By engaging me as a freelancer, you’d be benefiting from (value) and from (key skills) in a flexible way, with an external viewpoint. You can rely upon me.  Isn’t that in line with your needs?”

Master negotiation

When does negotiation happen?

Negotiation isn’t an answer to objections. It happens once the prospect has given a commitment in principle to work together: they want to work with you! Negotiation is the stage during which you reach an agreement with your client, on the conditions of the provision.

The prospect might seek to negotiate before confirming their wish to work together. In that case, you can ask for the sale, e.g. “I understand what you are asking for. Does that mean that we are going to work together?”

During the negotiation, you might need to make concessions (to accept losing a little). In that case, the prospect must offer you a quid pro quo.

For example, if the prospect wants to obtain the service urgently, and you want to make that concession, propose an increase of X % in return for your effort.

Define the minimum terms, e.g. a floor price below which you won’t agree to work. Don’t forget to inform your prospect of the reasons for your conditions, justifying the price if necessary, by explaining how you see the scope of the project, or by expressing the difficulty of performing high-quality work within a tight schedule. 

Finally, if you want to backtrack on a concession or a quid pro quo, do it in small steps and explain why you are changing your mind. Similarly, if you turn down an assignment, explain to the prospect why you can’t come to an agreement.

Build a long-term client relationship

As a freelancer, your personal brand and your reputation depend directly on you. It’s in your interest to maintain good relations with your client during and after your assignments.

Like most salespeople, you need to carry out a follow-up of the client relationship That will enable you to secure customer loyalty and thus to obtain new orders or even be recommended for future assignments (word-of-mouth).

Besides being enjoyable, a strong customer relationship is, thus, an advantage in developing your business while, at the same time, reducing your marketing efforts.

To construct a strong client relationship, you need to:

  1. Apply high quality work to your assignments;

  2. Remain available after the service provision;

  3. Ask your client for recommendations. 

Produce high-quality work

The best way to build a strong relationship with your clients is to offer a high-quality service. If your client is satisfied, they won’t hesitate to help you in find other assignments and supply you with recommendations, or work with you again on future assignments.

How can you deliver a high-quality service?

Here’s some advice for you to apply from your first contracts:

  • Only accept assignments that you are capable of carrying out. Don’t hesitate to tell prospects that their requests cannot be fulfilled in the circumstances (e.g. within particular deadlines or budgets) and to propose an alternative that you can honour. Accepting an assignment while “taking the risk” of failing is putting your reputation at stake.

  • Do your very best with your assignments. Take care with how you write your messages and how you express yourself verbally. Don't botch any service you provide, even if you’re having a hard day. 😊 For example, if you are a hire car chauffeur, drive smoothly, observing the rules of road safety.

  • Be transparent. As a freelancer, you have expertise in a field that your clients possibly aren’t skilled in. Take the responsibility to tell them if there’s a problem. Help them understand your services. Don’t take offence if the client has unrealistic demands: above all, it’s your task to communicate your expertise and the constraints involved in your work. For example, a graphic artist could offer short texts to go with each suggestion for a logo, calling attention to their creative process and choice of design. They could also tell the client that producing a logo will take two weeks since it takes at least three working days and they have other assignments.

  • Put the client first. Encourage your clients to express what they feel about the project, and emphasise their previous achievements. Listen to expectations and needs without passing judgement. Even if you’re the one carrying out the work, the goal is to make your end-client shine and to help them succeed. This might seem obvious, but remember not to humiliate the client when you want to make criticisms of their work. For example, if you are a developer and if your client has tried to design their first website on their own, and the result is disastrous, congratulate them for wanting to create a digital platform for themselves. Then, explain what you want to change and the reasons behind those choices.

  • Offer a top-quality client experience. Surprise your clients with little favours, even for small orders. Sometimes, a little politeness is all it takes. For example, if you’re a hire car chauffeur, open the doors for your clients, or park in a place that makes it easy for them to get out of the vehicle. 

  • Be on time. Keep to the deadlines in your agreement. Have you encountered a delay? Warn the client as soon as you are aware of this upset. For long contracts with companies, consider regular communication of your progress. Put yourself in the place of a client responsible for coordinating your work. They are taking a risk with their senior management or their own clients by recruiting a freelancer: the risk that the job doesn’t get done. Reassure your client about your ability to honour your contract.

  • Be responsive. Answer emails and phone calls quickly. Communicate about your conditions, e.g. your working hours.

  • Manage difficulties with courtesy and good faith. Being a freelancer does not mean that you have to accept everything. However, your responsibility as an entrepreneur includes guiding your clients, reminding them of the terms of your collaboration and arguing your standpoint in the event of disagreement. It’s possible to carry out all of that courteously. Having a signed contract or quotation is a key factor in calmly getting a handle on relationships with difficult clients, since the documents are evidence of your good faith. Stay professional at all times.

  • Above all, be sincere. Before addressing yourself to B2B or B2C clients, you are addressing yourself to other human beings. If you don’t know what to do when faced with a client, just remain courteous, professional and diligent. No one appreciates flattery.

The final word? Produce work that you’ll be proud of. 😎 The clients will naturally recognise the quality of your service provision.

Carry out a follow-up after the service

Your relationship with your client shouldn’t stop with the delivery of your work. On the contrary, offering a follow-up after the service enables you to keep the lines of communication open for possible future assignments.

Here are a few methods of follow-up to use once you have completed your assignment:

  • Ask questions about the fate of the project, or about the company’s other needs.

Ask your client whether that assignment is part of a larger, global initiative. A standard question could be: “What are your goals for this project?” or “What are your company’s next priorities?”

For example, a hire car chauffeur could ask the client whether they have already allowed for a return journey. A freelance communications manager could suggest an annual support formula to help their client develop a consistent communications strategy.

  • Ask for feedback and news about the project that you have participated in.

This will enable you to improve your future service provision, and will also be an opportunity to renew contact with the client in order to assess their needs.

  • Remain reachable after delivery and communicate that availability.

For some service provision, it’s essential to offer customer service, even if minimal, to make slight modifications, or give information to your former clients. Keep all the files used so that you can send them to the client again if necessary. In the context of a major modification, offer your client a new quotation, explaining why this modification wasn’t included in your initial service.

  • Keep in touch with your client.

For some service provision, it’s essential to offer customer service, even if minimal, to make slight modifications, or give information to your former clients. Keep all the files used so that you can send them to the client again if necessary. In the context of a major modification, offer your client a new quotation, explaining why this modification wasn’t included in your initial service.

Frequent contact isn't necessary to build a strong client relationship. You can, from time to time, send information that’s of interest to your client. You can also follow them on the professional social networks (e.g. LinkedIn or, in some cases, Twitter) and share their news with your network. Your effort will be noticed and appreciated. Finally, if you work at a distance, don’t hesitate to suggest that you could meet over a coffee when that’s possible.

These methods can be adapted according to your freelance business proposal. The main component of follow-up, once the service has been provided, lies in keeping communication open and positioning yourself as available for future assignments.

Ask for recommendations from your satisfied clients

It’s acceptable to ask a satisfied client to provide a reference or a recommendation. It’s not obligatory. However, you’ll see that, if you’ve done good work, the majority of your clients will gladly help you if they are able to.

There are three types of recommendation:

Testimonials (and scores): these recommendations are used on platforms, but also for your profiles on professional social networks and for your website. To increase your chances of obtaining feedback, don’t hesitate to ask precise questions of your client, and to make the task easier for them.

Examples of questions to ask:

  • Could you describe the value that my services have contributed to your company? 

  • What were the pleasant surprises you got from our collaboration? 

  • What would you say to somebody wanting to work with me?

Passive recommendations: in this case, the client suggests one or more contacts who might be interested in your services. Don’t hesitate to ask: “Can I contact them on your behalf?” It’s easier, that way, to obtain a response.

Active recommendations: this is about being put in touch. You can ask your client, for example, to put you in touch with contacts of theirs, who might be interested. In that case, prepare in advance a few sentences introducing yourself (your pitch and/or your business proposal), to make the work of your contact person easier, so they only have to cut-and-paste that information.

Finally, if you just want to list your references, check that your contract allows this as some have a prior agreement requirement in order to mention your collaboration.

In other cases, it’s best to pose the question in writing, telling them what you want to highlight and the media used, to avoid divulging information that the client considers sensitive.

If it’s essential for you to have a references portfolio, warn the client at the signing stage so you can reserve the right to mention it in one of the clauses.

Let's recap!

Conclusion of the course

Congratulations on taking the initiative to learn these methods for developing your business and, thus, improving your standard of living!

You now have the knowledge necessary to become the best (and only) salesperson of your independent business.

You’ve acquired strong skills. You can now:

  • Write a freelance business proposal;

  • Create a prospection file;

  • Define a marketing action plan;

  • Master a sales cycle from prospection to signature.

These skills will also enable you, if you wish to return at some time to salaried employment, to highlight your experience as a salesperson. In fact, knowing how to sell is a highly valued quality in the world of work.

We also hope that we’ve made you feel comfortable with selling, which is often something difficult for freelancers, but which can be enjoyable. Enjoy yourself; test out new things; get yourself into selling and being confident in yourself. The business world needs the services of freelancers, and there’s certainly room for your services.

Good luck on your search for clients! 😊

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement