Selling Services and Managing Leads: How the Best Freelancers, Consultants and Entrepreneurs Consistently Get New Business
One of the topics we get asked about a lot is how the best entrepreneurs and consultants fill their pipeline with leads and effectively manage those leads to close new business.
We thought, "Why don't we just ask some of the smartest people we know how they do it?" We reached out to some of the past guests on our podcast to get their quick takes on three critical questions, all geared to help you get smart about your marketing, business development, sales and growth efforts.
Here's what they told us!
Question #1: What tactics or habits have you developed to fill the top of your sales funnel with new potential customers?
I stay top of mind with weekly newsletters. Beyond that, I put new leads into my pipeline with free workshops (I partner with other people and teach their audiences), guest appearances on podcasts, and networking with top-notch design agencies. Many of those agencies don't have a brand strategist and writer on staff. Because I'm really good at the work, accustomed to managing myself, and not interested in poaching clients, I lead and deliver the brand strategy phase. And a single agency can send me lots of projects.
All things thought-leadership: Blogs, videos, podcast appearances, speaking. Nurturing relationships with influencers and strategic partners.
Focus on your communities and acquisition channels. There are thousands of platforms out there like Upwork and Fiverr for writers, creatives, marketers, and everything in between. Find your niche and make sure you're leveraging each platform so you can be found by potential clients.
Question #2: Once you have a lead, what are some best practices you've found for nurturing them towards a first sale? More broadly, what specific process or steps do you follow to manage your pipeline of work opportunities?
I educate my prospects. I consult with them to uncover the edges of the project or problem to be solved, and even if I'm not the right fit, I'll send them in the right direction. This process removes risk for clients and builds trust. Then, I have a weekly lead management routine that makes it easy for me to remember to keep in touch. Finally, I'll usually find creative ways to stay on their radar outside of email: LinkedIn, Instagram, mail them something, leave a review for their book or podcast, and so on.
Unless they are purchasing our course or a workshop, we talk to every prospect in advance. We then provide a scope of work with a summary of what they're seeking, our approach, pricing, etc. All of this drops into our pipeline where we do lead follow-up, targeted emails, etc.
Keep in mind why your lead initially reached out and focus on how you can provide a solution to their specific problem. Most leads will have more than one problem area, so be ready to expand on your services or refer a trusted colleague who could potentially help. Once you have a healthy list of prospects, follow up with a tentative scope of work that outlines your conversation with your prospects and their pain points. Here you want to provide a detailed scope of work with the service you offer, the expected timeframe of the project, and the overall cost.
Question #3: What's something important related to marketing or sales that all of us should be doing to grow our independent careers, BUT is counterintuitive or often overlooked?
Empathy. Is that too obvious of an answer? My prospects and clients too comment on how much I care. I never would have considered that distinctive, but it keeps coming up. The effort I put toward understanding what's really bothering them and what they really want, the better I get at selling them that very thing—instead of my go-to offers or even what they said they wanted at the outset. People will always tell you exactly what and how to sell to them if you listen carefully. Setting our own needs aside so that we can facilitate a process of self-discovery for clients can still be challenging though.
Share your personal mission with the world! Society has created a false wall between career and purpose. When you share your mission, you are allowing others to participate, support, fund it.
I spent a lot of time sending out proposals when first starting out, but soon found it's better to share your experience and expertise with your network and community. Start with Linkedin and share posts about your relevant projects, articles that interest you, or ask a question that could benefit your community.
What other questions are on your mind?
Let us know, and we'll gather responses from some top entrepreneurs and consultants and share those responses with you! Just sign in to Jolly and chat us.