There are many reasons why permanent employees go freelancing, and the move to freelancing can be extremely rewarding.
Freelancers have more control over their career direction, typically earn more, and have more holiday flexibility than permanent employees.
The keys to achieving the financial rewards are:
- keeping your skills updated to ensure you are marketable.
- minimising downtime between projects.
- maximising your revenues.
As a freelancer you will be sold to and also need to become a salesperson yourself to sell your product – you!
The importance of a professional sales approach cannot be stressed enough.
Want to skip ahead and learn how to master sales as a freelancer?
Our Sales for Freelancers course will give you a good grounding for the skills you will need to help you reap the rewards from your freelancing career.
In this article:
Why learn to sell?
Sales is a critical part of any freelance business and is often widely misunderstood.
Sales can be seen as a career is often considered to be unprofessional and there is a degree of mistrust surrounding ‘sales people’ and the processes they use.
As with any profession, some sales practices and people fall far short of delivering the promises they make. This is however not true of the whole industry.
Sales is in fact a science and follows strict rules and processes. Sales is the method of presenting a product in the most positive light, maintaining control over the ‘sales process’ and ultimately achieving the highest level of profit together with delivering the highest level of customer satisfaction.
Although this certainly does not mean that sales as an industry necessarily has your ‘best interests’ at heart, and it is for this reason that it is so important to gain a basic knowledge of what sales is and how it operates.
How sales will help your freelance business
To maximise your financial rewards you need to learn and apply good professional sales techniques.
Your expertise is the product you are selling, and despite what some people say, even the best products do not sell themselves.
A good grounding in sales will help you in the following areas:
- CV Preparation – the sales brochure about you
- Finding projects & obtaining interviews
- Interview Technique
- Project Negotiation
The most successful freelancers acknowledge the importance of a professional sales approach, and learn and apply good sales technique and process throughout their career.
The most successful freelancers also acknowledge the importance of a professional sales approach.
How to sell more as a freelancer
As a freelancer you will be sold to and also need to become a salesperson to sell your yourself.
Here are some points to consider:
- Having the top skills will not guarantee a project or the top freelance rates: Keeping your skills current and updated will certainly ensure you can potentially command the highest premiums, but it certainly doesn’t mean you will earn the highest premiums. Neither does it ensure you will always be in work.
- Bad candidates often beat better ones: The freelancers who win the projects are the ones who know best about finding a project, and not necessarily the ones who are best candidates for the projects. There are plenty of exceptional freelancers out of work, or working for less than they are worth simply because they are unable to successfully sell their product – themselves.
- Market demand is not the main driver to success: There is both seasonal demand for freelancers, and longer supply/demand fluctuations similar to the stock market. When demand is high even freelancers with the worst sales approach find themselves gaining projects with agents often fighting over them. When demand falls, the freelancers with little or no sales knowledge find themselves unable to secure projects and often head back to permanent employment, or worse, no employment. The ones who are best at selling themselves snap up the available project positions.
- Price is not the issue: Freelancers with little or no sales experience often wrongly believe that competitive pricing is the sole key to securing business. This is untrue. Clients will expect to pay market price for the goods they receive. Price is rarely the main issue.
- Bad negotiation means lower income: A failure to negotiate your project rate well will minimise your income from projects and simply line the pockets of an agent via a large agency margin, which is of course their goal.
Sales and freelancing
You may not like the term "selling", but freelancers will certainly be exposed to sales people and their processes the moment a potential client contacts them.
Freelancers need to become salespeople and use their own sales skills to sell themselves to the client during an interview, and then to finally negotiate an attractive freelance rate.
A solid understanding of sales is imperative to the successful sale of any product, including the sale of freelancers as knowledge workers (or consultants).
Ultimately any commercial product or service is a product that must be sold. Despite what you may have been told, even great products do not sell themselves.
As a freelancer you will be forced to engage yourself in a sales capacity, and it is in your interest to learn how to do it well.
Ready to learn how to sell?
Our course, Sales for Freelancers, aims to dispel some of the myths and provide you with some insights into sales.
To fully master sales can take a lifetime, but as with so many things, to grasp a basic understanding is utterly achievable.
This basic understanding can drastically improve your freelancing career and put you ahead of the rest.
It will also provide you with an understanding of a critical part of any business, often ignored (at their peril) by freelancers not working directly in sales.
Sales For Freelancers: How to sell your services as a freelancer