Photo Credit: Benjamin Voros via Unsplash

Top freelancers don’t feel squeamish about sales. They don’t have that luxury.

Clients sometimes become mentors, and to help them, you must immerse yourself in their brand and their thinking.

You can’t help but soak up some of their expertise.

Two clients that have made a significant contribution to my success as a freelancer are Lance Cooper and Steve Suggs. Together, they run SalesManage Solutions, and they taught a clueless freelancer the value of a robust hiring process and of sales activities.

Their P.A.S.S. sales framework revolves around four activities: Prospects, Appointments, Sales-in-Progress, and Sales.

Many freelancers dislike sales, and when I started working with Lance and Steve, I was no different. I wanted clients to come to me. I wanted to just do the work. I didn’t want to bother with the sizzle.

I let my distaste for sales justify wishful thinking: “I can build a profitable freelance business I love without mastering the one discipline that enables businesspeople to thrive in any industry or niche.”

Yet, we’re all in sales all the time.

If you want to eat at the local family-owned Thai restaurant and your friend is craving the Pizza Hut buffet, then you start selling.

What sets one freelancer apart from millions of others with a similar skillset?Your ability to sell prospects on working with you instead of someone else.

You may need to fix your messaging, and you most definitely need to win more projects.

I could psych myself up each morning and indulge in fantastical daydreams, but my sales numbers didn’t lie.

How could I achieve my financial and lifestyle goals unless I changed those numbers?

No matter how good you become at winning projects, you will never thrive as a freelancer if you don’t have enough projects on the table.

Like any other business venture, freelancing is a numbers game.

Now we get to the heart of the math problem that plagues freelancers.

People > Prospects > Proposals > Projects

From People to Prospects to Proposals to Projects you will have four separate conversion rates.

All the people in your network won’t become prospects. Every prospect won’t end up requesting a proposal. You won’t win every project.

Your numbers for an average month might look like this:

  • Maybe you talk to 20 people per month about working with them.
  • 15 of those people become prospects by scheduling a phone call or replying to your email.
  • 10 of those prospects request a quote or proposal.
  • Out of those 10 proposals, you win 5 projects.

Those projects total $3,300 in gross revenue, or roughly $650 per project. That number might thrill you, or if you really need to be making $5,000 per month to thrive, that number will disappoint you.

What should you do?

Use historical numbers to figure out your real targets.

  • To bring in $5,000 per month, you need eight projects per month, not five.
  • To win eight projects, you need to send out sixteen proposals. (You win, on average, 50% of the projects you quote.)
  • In order to send out 16 proposals, you need 32 prospects.
  • In order to find 32 prospects, you need 64 people to express interest in working with you.

Your mind may be spinning at this point. I certainly don’t want to discourage you or cause you to believe that this sales mountain is insurmountable.

I simply want to convince you that you must pay attention to your numbers. Your sales activities will flow from your sales targets.

The only way you will hit your targets is if you ramp up activities.

For example, what if you won 90% of proposals instead of 50%? You wouldn’t have to spend as much time rustling up prospects and putting together proposals.

What if you had more retainer relationships? That recurring revenue would take a lot of the pressure off each month. You might need only one or two new projects instead of eight.

Or what if you got serious about using the Remora Method? If several marketing agencies consistently sent you projects, then you wouldn’t start at zero each month, in terms of people and prospects.

What about asking for referrals and repeat business?

You can skin the sales cat any number of ways, but you can’t get around the need to know your numbers. You can’t measure numbers you don’t track, and you can’t optimize numbers you don’t measure.

Math can be your enemy or your friend. The choice is yours.

Which part of your sales funnel is broken?

  • Maybe you need to meet more people.
  • Maybe you need to follow up more often.
  • Maybe you need to turn quotes around faster.
  • Maybe you need to raise your rates.
  • Maybe you need to win a higher percentage of projects you quote.
  • Maybe you need to get better at sales.

Top freelancers don’t feel squeamish about sales. They don’t have that luxury. They’ve got numbers to hit and mouths to feed.

You’ll never reach your potential if you avoid discomfort.

What are your numbers? Dive into your math. Take a look at the invoices you sent last month. Go back through your emails. Assign numbers to this funnel: People > Prospects > Proposals > Projects.

What do you need to fix?

Find the broken part and fix it. Make a regular habit of finding and fixing the malfunctions in your freelance business, and you will be doomed to thrive.

What is holding your freelance business back?

Click on this link, share some basic information about yourself, and let’s figure out how to get you where you want to be.

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Austin L. Church

Austin L. Church

Writer, Brand Consultant, Freelance Coach | I teach freelancers how to stack up specific advantages for more income, free time, fun 🌴 FreelanceCake.com