Apparently, most writers aren’t good at marketing, and many salespeople aren’t the best at writing. Or at least that’s what people keep telling me.
I am lucky enough to be both, which has been extremely successful for me. It has truly been my superpower, which allows me to be my own boss and to let me get my business up and running very quickly.
Relationship building is an extremely important skill. Many people who consider themselves extroverted — or a ‘people person’ — may also find that they are strong at job interviews and good at networking in group settings.
However, more introverted people may find themselves at a surprising advantage in the one-on-one relationships and phone calls that freelancing often requires.
Relationship selling is defined as “a sales technique that focuses on the interaction between the buyer and the salesperson rather than the price or details of the product.”
Relationship sales focus on building a relationship and a rapport with a potential client for long-term results instead of just trying to close a short-term or one-time sale right now.
95% of my work and communication is done via email, text, Slack, Facebook Messenger, etc. This mode of communication is fast, easy, and best of all does not require pants.
And there are ways to be great at phone calls and written communication.
Phone calls & relationships
When it comes to winning over potential clients, I believe in the power of a great conversation.
When a prospect is asking me about pricing and information, I don’t just shove my website in their face and tra-la-la away to my next task.
I ask them for a time to jump on a phone call. Instead of giving them a straight-up price, I explain that prices depend on needs and scope of projects, and that monthly retainers are often less expensive than paying per project, per word, or per hour. I say:
“The price depends on your exact needs and can also be impacted by how long we plan to work together. Are you available this afternoon or tomorrow to jump on a short call with me? I can do 3pm EST today or 1pm-4pm tomorrow.”
What I have done here is set them up to expect individual, customized attention and pricing for their needs, and after mentioning the call, instead of leaving it open-ended, I have provided specific time frames, which encourages a response.
People are psychologically more likely to respond to the specific timeframes than just a general request for a phone call. It also shows my professionalism. I am available right away but at specific times. I know my schedule and keep to it.
Once I get them on the phone, I’m golden. I love talking to people, and it shows. I smile while I talk to them; I ask and answer questions. I show them my value by giving free information. For example, if we are discussing blogging, I’ll throw out a couple of facts and statistics about SEO and content marketing. If they want book coaching, I tell them what the process looks like and give them information on general lengths of books in different genres and discuss the pros and cons of traditional versus self-publishing.
Another thing I do is weekly phone calls with each of my monthly clients. It is a chance for us to check in, update them on my work and progress, and sets and manages expectations on both sides for the week ahead. It also serves to continue to build and solidify our working relationship.
Email & relationships
Because most communication is done over email, I make sure to let them know what I am up to or ask questions when I need to. I am professional but personable over email, saying “hey” and using their first name unless they have specified not to or are much more formal.
My clients never need to ask what I am working on or where I am at with their work, because I make sure to let them know.
I offer free email support to my book coaching clients, so I make sure to respond to people in a timely manner.
Once they are my clients, I stop selling them. They know what my services are and if they want additional ones, they always let me know. I might say offhandedly, “Hey, you may not have thought about it, but some social media management would work really well with what we are doing now and would promote your company faster and better. Here are a couple of examples ___. Let me know if you want to discuss it further, and I am also happy to recommend a couple of other fantastic people.”
Because that shows it’s not about ME. It is about what is best for THEM and their company. I’m not saying it just to make more money — I even offered to refer them to someone else!
That is because honesty, trustworthiness, and transparency are the pillars on which I have built my business. I am not afraid to say “I don’t know,” and then to go find the answer. I am not so self-centered as to think I’m the only person who can do what I do.
I am selling prospects on working with me specifically, not with a writer in general. They don’t only need to know the benefits of having a personal writer on hand, they need to see what working with me will be like. How well do I communicate? Do I remember information from previous conversations (I do, I take notes)? Do I listen to them and understand their pain points and have ways to solve those problems? Do I talk more about them than myself?
Clients & relationships
You should be approaching a client relationship in a similar way to a new friendship. You want them to like you and you don’t want to scare them off.
Sales is not about just getting that dollar amount. It is about getting someone who WANTS to work with you and KEEP paying you that dollar amount over a longer period of time. A one-time sale is good. A long-term relationship with someone who not only uses your services but refers people to you often is great and far more sustainable.
But it’s more than sales. As a solo entrepreneur, how I represent myself to anyone is literally the face of my business. I am myself, but professional. I am knowledgeable, able to show strong writing samples, and deeply understand the process and the business of writing.
Being nice, kind, a good listener, asking the right questions, showing your value — that is how you get and KEEP a client.