How to Book a Steady Stream of Freelance Writing Sales Appointments
In 1963, the late great soul singer Sam Cooke had a hit with a song he'd written called "Another Saturday Night."
The song contains the following line:
"If I could meet 'em I could get 'em, but as yet I haven't met 'em"
And while Sam was talking about meeting women, the line is also applicable to how you, as a freelance writer, may feel about getting new clients.
If you could just talk to them and let them know all the wonderful ways you can help them bring more profit into their business, you wouldn't be echoing Sam's follow-up line …
"That's why I'm in the shape I'm in."
Today I'm going to talk about a four-step system that will help you bring more prospects and clients into your freelance business.
If you use it consistently, instead of bemoaning "That's why I'm in the shape I'm in," you'll be saying …
"That's why I'm in such great shape emotionally and financially."
Step One — Research
Step One is to compile a list of companies you want to target. Collect their addresses, phone numbers, website addresses, etc. Regardless of your niche or your target industry, you'll have more and longer-term success setting your sights on corporate clients versus "Ma and Pa shops" — as corporate clients tend to better understand the value of what you do and have much bigger marketing budgets.
You also need to determine the name of the best person to contact. Whenever you can, target the owner or president of the company. If it's a huge corporation, you might want to find the contact name of the person in charge of hiring freelancers simply because it's just too difficult to get the head honcho on the phone. (Typically, the person to contact is whoever is in charge of the marketing department, but you’ll want to confirm this.) It's a judgment call, but the rule of thumb is to aim as high as possible.
How many companies should you research initially? As this is an ongoing process, start with around 10.
After you have your list of companies, examine their websites. Do they have an e-letter? If so, sign up for it (you can always unsubscribe later). Are there ways you could add value to their website or e-letter? A good way to determine the areas where their website could use improving is by using Pam Foster's Site Audits Made Simple: Consult Your Way to Lucrative Web Copywriting Projects.
Do they look like a good candidate? Do they appear to use and need a lot of good content and copy? Do they seem to "get" what you do? If not, you might want to consider dropping them off your list.
Input the contact information of companies you want to pursue into MS Excel under headings such as First Name, Last Name, Company, Address, City, State, Zip, Country, Phone, and Website. (Note: If you have specific software you use to target and track customers and a more efficient way of tracking and managing customers, by all means use that versus the methodology I lay out in this article.)
Step Two — Write Your Letter
The next step is to write the letter you are going to mail out to each one of your prospects.
A good model to use is Joshua Boswell's profit gap letter. You can find his template here. Joshua hits on most of the important hot points. He catches their interest at the start … gives a good example using Agora … works in two testimonials … makes a strong financial case … creates scarcity with this: “only work with six clients” … and ends with a strong P.S.
Take Joshua's template and adapt it to your voice and style. Remember, you only have to put this letter text together once.
Once you have your letter in Microsoft Word, open it and select "Mailings." Insert the appropriate merge fields (Address; First Name) and add the date you are sending these letters out at the appropriate place on your page. Under "Select Recipients," open the Excel file with your prospect data in it. (If you need help using Mail Merge, check the MS Word help file or search online for "MS Word Mail Merge tutorial.")
Print out the letters using high quality, premium paper similar to what you'd use for your resume. This type of paper can be purchased at Staples or your local office supply store. The reason you use "fancy paper" is that you want your letter to stand out. You can either write out the addresses on the envelope by hand or purchase labels and print them out using MS Word. Studies have shown that handwritten addresses have a greater open rate.
Note: In your letter, you may also want to offer the prospect a free report that's available by visiting your website. The free report must be something relevant, useful, and really valuable to their business. Something along the lines of "Seven Secrets to Generating More Income From Your Website." This gets them to your website, where they can see how professional and qualified you are. While there, if you have one, they may even sign up for your e-letter.
Step Three — Bring the Customer Data into Your Sales Tracking Software
Most sales programs allow you to import data from an Excel file. If you currently don't use a sales tracking program, a good choice is the online site Zoho CRM. It's free and relatively intuitive to use.
Once you have your information in your sales software, assign a task to call each of your prospects in about a week.
Step Four — Make the Calls
Because you've sent a letter in advance, this isn't really a cold call. It suddenly becomes a warm call.
Here's a rough script of what you would say:
You: Hi Jane. My name is [YOUR NAME]. I'm a freelance copywriter. Did I catch you at a good time?
Jane: Yes, now is not a bad time.
You: Good, I won't take much of your time. Recently I sent you a letter about how you can generate more income from your website. Do you recall seeing it?
Jane: Yes, I saw it.
You: In the letter, I offered a free 15-minute site consultation. In this call, I'll give you ideas on how to convert more of your website visitors to customers. I’ll identify profit gaps which are costing you money. These are ideas you’ll be able to use right now, with no obligation or charge from me. Plus, I'll lay out some techniques and strategies you can use to make your overall business more profitable. Would you like to find out how you can generate more paying customers from your website?
Jane: Okay, I guess I can spare the time.
You: I have Tuesday at 2 p.m. open or Wednesday at 10 a.m. available. Which works better for you?
Now, of course, every call won't go this smoothly. And you have to find your own style. Your goal here is not to sell your service, just the free consultation.
If you'd like some more "cold-calling tips," check out my article "11 Tips to Help You Get New Clients Through Cold Calling."
Next, set up a schedule for repeating Steps One through Four.
Objections and How to Overcome Them
Some people will tell you flat-out that they’re not interested in anything you have to say. Most will be courteous. Some will be very receptive.
Here are a few common objections and tactics to overcome them. (Keep in mind that the objections they raise are also a way to determine if they are the right fit for you.)
Objection #1 — "I don't want to spend any money right now."
"This call comes with no strings attached. The idea here is that the strategies I present to you will actually increase your results and boost your site profits. Again there's no obligation. Worst case scenario is you get some great ideas of how to make your website and business more effective and profitable. Which would be better for you, Monday at 2 p.m. or Tuesday at 10 a.m.?"
Objection #2 — "Send me some info."
"I understand you saying that and I can certainly direct you to my website, but what I'm going to talk to you about is information geared specifically to your site. Which is obviously not something you'll get just by looking at my website."
Objection #3 — "I already have someone that does that for me."
"Okay, sounds good, but let me ask you one more question before I let you go. How do you quantify success? In other words, how do you know you have the best possible home page? What I'm saying is you might be happy with your home page simply because you have nothing to compare it to. That's what I'm offering you here. Some new and different ideas than what you may not be familiar with."
Objection #4 — "My site is fine as it is. It's doing everything I want it to do."
"That is great that you are happy with the profits you are making. I have to tell you that the majority of my existing clients said the exact same thing. But when they saw what I could do for them and the new profit-producing ideas I brought to the table, they quickly changed their minds."
As part of your initial conversation, don't be afraid to compliment them on some aspect of their business. For instance, if you're a fan of one of their products, tell them.
Always ask if you've caught them at a good time. They will respect you more, and once they give you their approval, they've committed to listening to what you have to say.
Never criticize their website. You don't know who wrote the content and designed the strategy for it. They could have done it themselves or had a family member or a close friend write it. So try to be as tactful as possible when it comes to discussing their website.
Focus on action, not results. Set a quota of how many calls you are going to make per day or per week and stick to it. Do the action and the results will start to reflect your efforts.
Don't give up. Getting people on the phone can be difficult. Keep at it and the results will come.
Don't take rejection personally. It's part of life. Don't let it slow you down. Let it roll off your back and then keep going. If you consistently perform the action, the results will follow.
In Closing …
Now, of course, there are other ways to generate more sales appointments. Some freelancers send targeted email to potential clients, which can be very effective. You need to develop your own style and a system that works for you. I like sending out an actual physical letter simply because it makes you stand out as not a lot of people are marketing their services through direct mail these days.
The most important thing is to take action consistently. Do that and you'll never have to worry about lacking paying assignments again.
This article, How to Book a Steady Stream of Freelance Writing Sales Appointments, was originally published by Wealthy Web Writer.
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