How To Sell Professional Services & Get Freelance Clients Online: My 10 Best Sales Techniques

Not all freelancers are great salespeople, and this can make it hard to get clients online. Here are 10 sales tips on how you can find freelance clients.
Xinyu Ng
Xinyu Ng

Xinyu is a Senior Digital Strategist at a Digital Marketing agency based in Singapore. Definitely an overthinker, Xinyu is grateful she has her five cats, Spotify playlists and fitness routine to keep her mind from wandering off too far away.

When many companies were retrenching and furloughing their employees due to the financial impact of the CIVID-19 pandemic, many turned to the internet to earn money online.

Coupled with the paradigm shift in mindsets in which people started to reorder their priorities in life, more and more people turned to freelance work to have more control over their lives.

In fact, 20% (10 million people) of the US workforce were considering doing freelance work 😲 Competition to get that freelance dough is increasingly stiff 🍩

With the pandemic seemingly never coming to an end, finding clients online and delivering sales pitches via Zoom or phone calls appears to be a trend that will stay for quite a while.

But not all of us are great salespeople 😔 

How should you go about selling your services to businesses? Where do you find prospects and leads? How do you humanize a conversation online and follow up with them closely where they can ‘ghost’ you any second? 

After having done sales pitches via video conferencing for a while, I’m confident to say that I’ve accumulated some of the best tips on selling your freelance services.

But first, a little note on where you can find these clients online.

Where can I find freelance clients?

1) Freelance platforms

These days, many platforms exist to connect freelancers and prospective clients. Think of them as a freelancer marketplace of sorts.

These are amazing channels to use if you are thinking of selling your services online.

Some of the most popular ones include Upwork and Fiverr. But there are many other smaller platforms that are catered to a specific niche.

99design, for example, is a platform dedicated solely to helping people hire freelance web designers.

2) Cold calling or emailing

While freelance platforms are a great place to find gigs, you should also take more initiative and reach out to businesses. 

Find their contact details on their websites or business directories and make some cold calls or send some cold emails.

Do your research to identify the best day and time to cold call and reach out. You’ll definitely face A LOT of cold call objections. But with practice, you get better at convincing people to purchase your service.

3) The news

Keeping up with the latest business news websites and blogs are actually fantastic sources of prospective clients. 

Every time startups announce that they raised money in a funding round, you should start seeing green flags. This is an indicator that they have more money to spend on operations such as content marketing. If you’re a freelance content writer, grab this opportunity and send that cold email. 

Say you convinced a prospect to arrange a Zoom call to listen to your pitch, then what? Here are 10 tips to help better prepare you for the conversations to come with your prospect.

My 10 most effective sales techniques to help you get clients as a freelancer

1) Make the call scheduling process easy

The customer journey starts from the moment you reach out to them.

Every step along the way needs to take the (potential) customer experience into consideration. And scheduling a video call is an essential step that you need to make easy.

Using appointment scheduling software can help with that. It eliminates the need for back-and-forth emails to schedule your pitch calls. All you need is to integrate it with your personal calendar and select time slots you’ll be available for. 

Your prospect can then click on a preferred slot and confirm an appointment.

2) Always treat it like a first date 

When pursuing a new client, it is important to understand what the client is looking for. 

Treating it like a new date forces you to customize your conversations and look out for information unique to the client. And above all, make them feel important.

After all, nobody likes to feel like they are just like every other person you’ve spoken to and wants to be heard. 

Start the call with questions about themselves and the business. Investing in small talk for the first 5 minutes can melt away any awkwardness and humanize an otherwise clinical online call.

3) Listen, listen, listen

Preparing for your sales pitch, you might have had a script ready filled with reasons why your product and service is the best and why they should choose you. 

However, bombarding your prospect with your ‘effective’ and ‘trained’ sales pitch could be the exact reason why they choose otherwise. 

Simply put, they do not feel like their needs are heard. A simple fix – ask guiding questions and give your prospect the opportunity to share their point of view. 

Then, customize and re-order your sales pitch accordingly to make it flow more like a conversation than a one-person show. 

4) Be very clear on how you can add value to your potential client

Bringing your Unique Selling Points (USPs) to your pitch is one thing, but knowing exactly how you value add can be the cherry on top. 

Are your services or products going to complement their existing strategy? 

Will you be filling in a missing gap from their processes? Can you help them improve their businesses in more ways than one? 

Knowing the answers to these questions, and your value proposition can help consciously (or consciously) alter your sales pitch to demonstrate how you can solve their struggles – which would very well be how you can stand out from the rest. 

For instance, people looking for ad copywriters need help improving clickthrough rates. With this pain point in mind, show how you can help your prospect with this issue and add value to them. 

5) Prepare a visual aid 

Whether it is a PowerPoint presentation or even a live demonstration of your product or service, visual aid helps to engage your prospect on another level. It can also potentially help to guide the flow of your discussion. 

Especially online, via Zoom or Google Meets, it’s easy for the conversation to become cold and calculated. Using a visual aid can be a bit more exciting. 

Furthermore, a common pitfall for sales pitches is when you slip into verbal diarrhea and confuse your prospect, instead of convincing them. 

Using a visual aid can help as reference points, and ensure that you do not miss out on anything planned or important. It could also help you appear more prepared, sincere, and professional.

6) Be transparent with costs

Discussing costs can be sensitive and uncomfortable – especially if you do not know your worth.

To help your prospect understand your quote, you will also need to understand how you have justified it. 

Do your research to see what other competitors (freelancers, agencies) are charging and how they charge. 

Share your research findings with your prospects and explain how your point of differentiation would require a certain level of skill, time, and knowledge, forming the backbone and rationale for your costing. 

Break down the fixed and variable costs, as well as any caveats, clearly from the very beginning. This shows that you are experienced and that you know your worth – which can help support your convincing act. 

7) Always follow up 

Following up with an interesting prospect is not only about sending multiple emails, texts, and calls. 

By respecting their time (and yours), you can help to make the experience a much more pleasant one as well. 

When finishing your first meeting, always suggest another date or time period for a follow-up meeting to discuss any feedback or question that they might have. 

You can always propose to ‘soft book’ date on the calendar just in case, as you ‘understand their busy schedule.’ 

With every meeting, also set an agenda; to discuss costs, refine the scope of work and deliverables, set timelines, or simply confirm the engagement.

8) Document everything

Remember that money is time for you, even more so as a freelancer working on multiple projects. 

Hence, setting up an administration process at the beginning can help you to save time and protect your self-interests. 

When engaging with a prospect, and eventual client, here are some key documents you should always prepare for and file: 

  • An official quotation detailing all costs, scope of work, timeline, and other fine print signed off by the client
  • An email thread consisting of said quotation and a summary of what has been agreed
  • A Google drive (or any other collaborative platform) to document and demonstrate services that have been delivered

The more details you put into the quotation, email, and Google Drive, the more ‘ammunition’ you will have to protect yourself against any flaky clients or unreasonable clients that question the scope of work or deliverables. 

As you are pitching to the client, do also take note of how you can weave this into the conversation to prepare the client for this administrative process as well.

9) Know when to give up 

If a prospect ghosts you or declines the opportunity to work together this time around, ask for feedback on why they have decided otherwise. 

It is recommended to not be overly clingy or see the client as a dead lead forever. 

Personally, I’ve maintained good relationships with prospects through casual conversation over time and see them as just another human relation, and this more often than not works out as they come back with more opportunities again. 

Not seeing your prospect as just a prospect can also help to facilitate better conversations and opportunities for the long run. 

Being a freelancer is not a short-term hustle, so it’s better to always just keep the contact with you regardless. 

10) Be sincere

Especially when chasing prospects and clients online, one main point of differentiation only you can make would be your personality. 

There’s no real formula for how sincerity can be conveyed through a screen, or even in real life, but to just be sincere. 

Sincere people can feel and receive sincerity as well as express it. Be sincere, and you might also find yourself manifesting better clients into your life – which is always a bonus! 

11) Ask for reviews

These days, online reputation is everything. 

Maintaining an online portfolio via a website or an Instagram account that is easily found can help to bolster confidence; since clients do not want to be working with a ‘nobody’ that might not be accountable. 

Getting past clients to leave you a review can be one way to also humanize your services on top of verifying your capabilities. 

Find interesting ways to present these reviews, depending on what your skill sets are.

For example, if you are a designer, incorporate the reviews (be it screenshots of WhatsApp or a formal email) into an interesting design template, and pin it as a highlight on Instagram.

Are you now clearer on how to get clients as a freelancer?

At the end of the day, prospects and clients want to feel that they can trust you and build a good working relationship with you. 

Online, it might be hard to personify your products or services and even communicate the ‘human’ side of you through a screen. 

The above tips are to provide structure to your conversation to help you sell your services to businesses online, but it is really through practice that you can learn the delicate balance of selling your services and your personality. All the best!