Whether you’re selling your time in the form of a service or you’re creating a product to sell, you will have to make a sale.
Selling a product allows you to exist behind the scenes when you sell via a platform like Amazon or Etsy; simply list your product for sale and you might never actually speak with a customer. In this instance, sales is a passive, on-demand process controlled by your customer.
What if you’re trying to sell a service as a side hustle?
Fear not! If you can get a reluctant child to eat vegetables, you’re in sales and you probably always have been a salesperson in one way or another. You have more sales experience than you think.
Let’s break down the 7 stages of the sales process and the common fears you might have about each stage of the process.
1. Prospecting for Leads
Side hustlers have limited time, so this stage of the sales process needs to be as efficient as possible. You could spend hours, maybe even days, trying to identify exactly who you want to work for.
To make this stage efficient and effective, start from a position of strength or experience using whatever you have in your background. If you have job experience in medicine, for example, consider the side hustle service you have to offer and who could benefit from the service you plan to offer and THAT is your prospect, i.e. your ideal client.
When you know who your ideal client is, you can easily find two or three prospective clients from the personal and professional network you have.
Once you know who you can help, simply call or email your prospective client. For many, many side hustlers, this is the most challenging part.
Many side hustlers are afraid of putting themselves out there for fear of rejection. I know, I’ve been there. “No” was paralyzing for me, at first. I thought “no” meant that I was a failure. What I learned instead was that “no” meant something entirely different in each stage of the sales process.
At this stage, “no” can simply mean that it’s not the right time for the client, but that doesn’t mean the door is closed forever!
2. Setting Up Appointments
Once you’ve connected with a prospective client interested in your service, it’s time to set up an appointment either in person or on the phone.
When I was side hustling, I worked before and after my 9 to 5 job, so I couldn’t meet with my clients in person. Instead, I used my cell phone and Skype to for meetings. What I found was that many of my clients were busy during the day running their own businesses, so calls after hours meant they had more time to connect with me.
At this stage, “no” can simply mean that the client is too busy. Again, it doesn’t mean the door is closed forever!
3. Qualifying Prospects
Speaking with your prospective client for the first time can be a little daunting, especially if you’ve never done any kind of freelancing work before. What you need to communicate in this call is simple: the ways in which your service addresses the client’s pain points. How do you do this? By asking LOTS of questions.
You want your prospective client to know that you care about them, what they sell, who they serve, and what their pain points are because pain points are the very things they could outsource to side hustlers/freelancers. You also want to ensure that this client is right for you and that s/he understands what you’ll provide.
Be honest about what you can provide. If your client is looking for more than you can realistically provide, be honest about your limitations. You can’t be a “jack of all trades” as a side hustler—there just isn’t time for that. Trying to serve every need that every single one of your clients has will lead to burnout—and you might be trying to provide a service to your client that isn’t your strength.
Qualifying your prospect ensures that you and your client will be a good fit for one another, that the boundaries of the relationship are clear, and that your service will benefit your prospective client.
At this stage, “no” can also mean that the prospective client doesn’t see the value in what I have to offer. It’s difficult to sell something to someone when they’re already convinced it won’t work for them. It’s easier to sell something to someone when they know it’s worked for themselves or someone else.
4. Making Your Presentation
Assuming that this prospective client is a good fit for you and that your services are a good fit for your client, it’s time to present your service. If you did your due diligence in the qualification process, the presentation is a breeze because you already know who you’re talking to, what s/he needs, and what you can provide to meet those needs.
Scott Edinger says in this post in Harvard Business Review, “If you operate on the assumption that people will benefit from using your products and services, then sales is entirely about helping others.“ I firmly believe that what I actually do as a marketing consultant is help other people reach their goals with marketing. All I do is help business owners get what they want, which is more leads and more sales.
At this stage, “no” might mean that I didn’t ask enough questions to ensure that what I have to offer is right for my clients—they could have been asking for X and I’m trying to sell them on Y. If they really needed Y and I’ve spent 30 minutes talking about X, then I should have asked more questions before scheduling the call. That’s OK. It’s not the right time for my service, but it doesn’t mean it won’t ever be the right solution — keep in touch with your prospect.
5. Handling Objections
Regardless of how many questions you ask when trying to qualify prospects, there might be a question or two that comes up after the presentation. Your prospective client has heard what you have to offer, which triggers another question or maybe even an objection.
This is where notes from your earlier conversation will be helpful. When you recap the client’s need and how your service can help him/her address that need, the objection subsides.
For my clients, leads and sales are paramount—without sales, their businesses will close. What I have to offer as a marketing consultant means an increase in sales, so if sales is a current pain point for my client, I talk about the ways in which marketing can help increase sales. Assuming that my services are still a fit for the potential client’s needs, I can simply refer to my notes from that earlier conversation when the client mentioned what their current struggles are.
And remember, you’re the expert in your area. Your prospective client is coming to you for help. When it’s the right service for the right pain point, there will be few (if any) objections to working with an expert like you.
6. Closing the Sale
For many, this stage of the sales process is often harder than it needs to be. We build up the moment in our minds that somehow the client will say “no” at the very end.
If you’ve gone through each stage and qualified your prospective client, all you have to do is ask the client when they want to get started.
When it’s the right client at the right time and the right fit for you, you’ll actually look forward to closing the sale. You’ll be excited about the moment you get to ask when your client wants to get started.
If you’re afraid that it’s not the right fit or the client has lots of objections, closing will be difficult…like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. Consider suggesting to the client that you revisit the proposal in a couple of months — do keep in touch.
7. Asking for Referrals
When you’ve delivered superior service to your clients and demonstrable results, they will gladly refer you to other clients—all you have to do is ask.
Ask your current clients who they know who could benefit from your help. Business owners are almost always looking for reliable people. When you deliver the work you promise, you show you’re a reliable person worthy of a referral. I can’t tell you how many business owners appreciate honesty and reliability.
Referrals were the number one way in which I acquired clients for my side hustle, which made sales much easier because I could move immediately to the “qualifying prospects” stage. Seeking referrals can make the overall sales process much more efficient.
How to Eliminate Fear of Rejection at Every Stage of the Sales Process
Regardless of what fears you might have about reaching out to clients or presenting your service as a solution, you must conquer your fears to make progress toward your goal.
You know “why” you want to side hustle. You have a SMART goal. You have a focused block of time set aside to do your side hustle work. When you leverage your strengths and past experiences to find and pitch potential clients, you’re just one “yes” away from signing your first client.
Fear can keep you from signing your first client, if you let it, so consider trying this strategy from Brian Tracy: the 100 calls method.
Brian recommends calling 100 potential clients to overcome fear. Not everyone will say “yes” when you call, but here’s the thing…when you make 100 calls, you’ll stumble across opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise. After 100 calls, you’ll feel like a pro at reaching out to potential clients.
I’ve tried this strategy using email. In trying to reach more aspiring side hustlers for our online training courses, I sent more than 100 emails to bloggers seeking their assistance and many said “no.” But guess what? There were 21 bloggers who said “yes” to working with me on our promotional efforts. Now, “no” doesn’t bother me at all. I just send a nice reply and move on to find my next “yes.”
If you still feel like you need a little more help to overcome fear, consider this post from Dr. Rachna D. Jain and this TED talk from Tim Ferris, “Smash fear, learn anything.”