Freelancers and consultants: How to get to NO faster
When phoning prospects to land freelance and consulting assignments, the classic reason to welcome the NOs is because each NO takes us closer to YES.
To build on that idea, it indicates we are qualifying people effectively and conserving our time for better prospects. We want more NOs and we want them early in the conversation.
Definition: A qualified sales lead is a person who has shown both intent and ability to make a purchasing decision within a reasonable timeframe.
The first round of qualification takes place when we select someone to call. We should select with care the right people based on such criteria as their industry, company size, job title and geographic location. No use wasting time calling the wrong people.
The best way to identify people in round one is to use a comprehensive source of names. One favorite is ReferenceUSA, which in some communities is available online for free through the public library. Note that once you develop the selection through a reasonable number of criteria, stop the analysis and get on the phone. No need to waste a half hour studying their website and Facebook page when they may not even answer your call.
Further qualification takes place during the phone call. Early in the conversation I explain that I am calling to see if they ever use freelancers or have considered working with a freelancer. I want to make it clear that I offer a specific service and imply that I charge money for this service.
If they are not interested, I thank them and politely close the conversation. I’ve saved myself time to call more promising names. No one has ever screamed or sworn at me, and I don’t consider this to be a case of oh-so-dreaded rejection.
The longer you gab on without explaining who you are, the more suspicious they become, especially if this is B2B (business-to-business) calling to experienced managers and executives. And it is important to indicate that you charge for your service because in the internet world, many people are so busy giving away information and service for free that it is natural to assume people want to help us free of charge; people are coming at us constantly with free reports, free meetings, free webinars and free consultations.
You don’t want people who are interested because they are getting something for free. You want people who are interested in paying for your service.
What if they ask your rate?
I never pin myself down to a project rate while on my first phone call. There’s too much to be considered in setting a price and I tend to shortchange myself if I blurt out a figure. Instead I try to start a conversation about what they are trying to achieve.
But if they stand firm and insist upon a monetary figure, I tell them my hourly rate. They may be bargain hunters who will never give me the assignment at a reasonable fee, so it’s foolish to prolong the conversation by avoiding the question.
Sometimes this question is asked by corporate professionals who have worked with freelancers and consultants before. These people may sound gruff. Or simply curious. Doesn’t matter. They are expecting a fairly high figure consist with the professionals they typically work with.
Sometimes they are indignant at a non-bargain rate. If this is the case, don’t take it personally.
Nowadays there are so many freelancers and consultants competing out there. Elance and other job boards tend to make service providers compete based on cost. College-graduate interns are working for free. No matter how fair you may believe your rates to be, those who are outraged will never be persuaded to pay them.
All these conversations will generate NOs quickly. That’s a good thing. It moves us along to the next call and to the YESes that are ahead.
Definition of qualified: www.eloqua.com/resources/best-practices/qualified-leads.html
Originally posted 1-13-14