Sales has always terrified me. And while I have been given sales training in the past, it’s something I try to avoid wherever possible – instead opting for an ‘au natural’ approach.
I have gone out prospecting in the past when there are specific companies that I would really like to work with. But most of my work comes via referral and word of mouth. In many respects this makes my sales process far easier because at the point I start talking to someone, there’s already been a certain level of qualification that’s taken place.
So this is my super simple sales process:
Step 1: email exchange
My main call-to-action is to ‘say hello!’, so this is usually where it all begins. I’ll receive an enquiry and we engage in an initial email exchange. My prospect will introduce their company and talk a little bit about the project they need help with. I always try to set an initial call/meeting because even if I can’t help, I’m pretty sure I’ll know someone who can and am more than happy to make those introductions when necessary.
Step 2: call/meeting
I try to work with companies that are within a 30-minute drive of me so I can meet them in person and bake something delicious. The purpose of this meeting is to decide whether we both feel like we’re a good fit and want to work together, and to then discuss the specifics of the project to see if I can help.
I’m usually asked questions like:
- What’s your story?
- What’s your experience in the IT sector?
- What are your rates?
- Can you send me some examples?
And then if we’ve not covered it off already, the questions I’m going to ask include:
- Who is your target audience? Specifically, their pains/challenges?
- Why you? What’s your value proposition and competitive differentiators?
- What does your wider marketing strategy look like? And where does this project fit?
- What are you hoping to achieve / what do you want people to do as a result of reading your content?
- When do you need it for?
- How would you like to work together when it comes to briefings?
It’s absolutely fine if you don’t have answers to all of these questions, but the more detail you can provide, the easier it is for me to enter the frame of mind of your audience and understand what needs to be done in order to engage them, and then how we can extract maximum value from your campaign.
Step 3: follow up
Before finishing the call/meeting, we’ve usually agreed some follow up actions – typically involving sending some examples, providing a quote, signing an NDA, exchanging contracts or a combination of all…
Or if we feel I’m not the right person for the job, I’ll go away, talk to the right people in my network and make the necessary introductions.
From my side, I will send through my terms of service, which sets expectations around how we work together, revisions and payment. Everything exists in my terms for a reason (usually because I’ve been burned in the past!)
Step 4: briefing
By this stage, everyone is usually happy to proceed, so it’s a case of working out the specifics around the briefing process.