Mike Killen is a popular sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. 

He’s the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.

Q1. What are your top tips for finding clients when we first start out?

When you first start finding clients, it’s critical to have a niche. There’s more and more competition in all markets and in order to attract attention and command higher fees, you need to have a niche.

Think about a single part of the process that you love to deliver. For example, if you’re a freelance marketer, maybe you enjoy email or Facebook groups more than other parts? That’s a good place to start.

Then, think about WHO would benefit from that part of the process. What types of customers and what types of products? That’s a good place to start. Then, look at your network and make sure that you’re using it properly.

When you’re clear on your niche, you need to start telling people WHO you work with. The mistake we make is telling people what we do. That’s not what you need to focus on. Tell people WHO you work with and what THEY get when they work with you.

Use your Facebook, LinkedIn, email and real life networks to ask people if they know anyone in your niche. “Hey Nicole, I’m working with finance app creators to increase their average customer sales. Do you know anyone who fits that?”

Also, make sure you follow up. Finding clients means going all the way to the sale. If someone seems interested, keep working with them and talking to them until they’re a customer. Fortune is in the follow up!

Q2. How can we get over our fear of selling?

What helped me was to tie it into stuff I like doing; my passions and strengths. I like running events, so I host a meetup and I’ve ended up meeting clients through that. It feels less like sales (and less scary!) if you tie it into stuff you enjoy. 

Also, we worry that if we’re seen as pushy or too “salesy” we might be branded as a con artist or a hard sales person. Which also means we’ll be rejected. But we’re NOT con artists. We need to sell our products!

If you want to get over your fear of selling, you need to push past the awkward part of selling and realise that you know best. Imagine you break your leg and the Doctor tells you everything they need to do in order to fix you…

You have to set the bone and get a cast. Lots of therapy, maybe even surgery. If you say you don’t want it, the doctor knows that it’s in your best interest. He knows better. He doesn’t care about your objection or “no”, he looks for everything he can do to heal you.

So you need to make a long list of who benefits if you do make a sale, and how they benefit. Why is their life better? How is it better? Why is this good for them?

Then you need to make a list of “who suffers?” Who suffers if you don’t make the sale? How do they suffer? Their business suffers. Their customers suffer. Their families suffer. You have get deep and commit yourself to playing a bigger game than your fears.

Our problem with sales stems from our overall fear of rejection. We’re worried that if someone says NO we’ll be cast out of our tribe. Of course that doesn’t happen but our brain finds that tough to get over.

Q3. What are your tips for running discovery calls with confidence?

Discovery calls are just that – discovery. They are NOT sales calls. Don’t sell or pitch on a discovery call, just ask questions. First, let’s qualify the customer and then let’s find out about their project.

We need to ask five top questions. Budget, Authority, Needs, Timescale and Suppliers (BANTS). When you get a lead or prospect, jump on a call and ask those five questions. 

Resist answering their questions and if they do ask questions, reply with “I’ll gladly answer every question you’ve got. Right now I just need to know more about your project and if I’m the right freelancer for you.”

Take the pressure off yourself and just ask questions. Don’t think about selling, making a good impression or pitching. This is your best chance to get to know the project, plus the more questions you ask and the more the customer talks, the more they trust YOU. It’s a weird thing where the more they talk, the better you look. When you ask smart questions, you look smart. Discover everything you can about their business.

Q4. Once we send a proposal, how can we move things along in the sales process to help us close the deal?

Follow up but don’t chase. My favourite closing tactic for proposals is to use http://useloom.com  and do a screen recording on the proposal. I’ll talk through the proposal and send them a link to the video.

Then I’ll send them a reminder about the next steps. I’ll make it super clear what they need to do. Most people don’t tell the customer what the next steps are. So say, “We can get started today, just sign here and send the deposit.”

Make sure you send content to the prospect and CLOSE them. DO NOT ask them if they got the proposal or if they had any questions. Send them blog posts, videos and after a week tell them again what they need to do to move forward.

But my favourite closing technique is to NOT send the proposal at all. Instead, present it live on a call or http://appear.in  and screen share the proposal like a pitch. Then send them a copy when you need them to sign. Close on the day and on the call.

Q5. How can we handle budget objections during calls, which we often get for social media and marketing projects?

Price isn’t an objection, it’s a complaint. If you want to answer the pricing problem, you need to treat it like a complaint. Don’t think of it like an objection.

Most of the time, if someone says, “That’s too expensive” it’s because you haven’t qualified them. Ask yourself, “Did I ask them what their budget was or did I have a clear idea of what their budget was before I sent them the price?” If not – ask earlier.

if you did qualify them and they still say it’s expensive, treat it like a complaint. “The weather is bad”, “my iPhone is too expensive.” What do we do when people say that? We agree with them. Sounds mad but it’s true.

When a customer says, “That’s too expensive” they’re not saying no. They’re complaining. So agree with them. “Yep, it is expensive. Sign here and let’s get started.” If they say NO you need to know why. People don’t say no because of price.

You say yes to expensive houses, rent, school, cars, credit cards, internet bills, holidays, Netflix, food, bills, mortgage the list goes on. Price is a complaint unless they say, “I’m not paying that” you need to ask WHY?

Q6. What are your favourite hacks for converting leads from networking events?

First, stop telling people what you do. Don’t be afraid to exclude people from your “pitch” by telling them who you work with and how you help them. Nothing is more boring than “I’m a freelance designer” or “I do social media for small businesses.” 

Instead, how about, “I help businesses who work from co-working spaces attract large 6 figure contracts with beautifully designed product brochures” or “I empower businesses that sell digital products via email marketing to increase their conversion rates and sales rates by partnering with social media channels.” Telling people WHO you work with is 100x more powerful than what you do.

Also, don’t be afraid to find ONE great customer rather than 100 business cards. You won’t follow them up anyway. Use networking events to tell other people who you work with, and it’s easier for them to refer you. EVERYONE knows a social/graphic/marketer…

But it’s hard to make referrals when you’re lumped in with the same group. Instead, if you work with “businesses who have 3 office locations and turbo-charge their sales with email campaigns” it’s much easier to make a referral.

Q7. What learnings can you share from running and growing your own  business?

You absolutely must commit yourself to the service of others. Sales is about service. Sales MEANS service and if you’re serious about your business you must be serious about serving others and making their lives better.

For every no you collect, it gets you closer to a yes. Collect as many no’s as you can in order to get to a massive yes that will change your business. ‘No’ is a good sign.

Have the courage to be disliked It’s important that not everyone will love or even like you. 10% will love you 10% will hate you and 80% will be apathetic. Ignore the lower 90% and focus on the top 10%. They’ll love you forever if you dedicate yourself to them.

Give more back and as much as you can. The more you give and show others, the more you’ll get. If you want more money/time/fame/impact, show OTHERS how they can get the same and you’ll be rewarded with more in return than you could ever need.

What’s next?

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