For many freelancers on Upwork, a sales call is an essential step in their process of earning new clients. A significant portion of Upwork freelancers eventually become experienced at handling these calls, and many have succeeded in having clients agree to hire them.
One of the traps that many sales-call-experienced Upwork freelancers fall into is thinking that because of their experience (for some, hundreds or thousands of sales call completed), they are already at a sufficient call-handling level.
That there is no need to further their skills, their current level is sufficient.
It might be true that you may be a significantly experienced freelancer who has handled and won dozens of sales calls, but the reality is that a major number of your competitors have too.
I want to offer two topics you can keep in mind for nearly every Upwork sales call you participate in. These tips can be foundational in improving your sales call-handling skills beyond your competitor's abilities. Simple to learn, easy to practice, and continuously able to be improved upon.
Listening & Recapping
Many of us have experienced listening to respond. You hear what your potential client is saying, and your brain conjures up a witty or intelligent response that you cannot wait to share with them.
Your brain power begins devoting itself to arranging the perfect sentence to share with your potential client, and you nod along, almost pretending to listen to the client, simply waiting for them to pause before you can respond.
It’s human. We get excited when we think we have something excellent to share.
My invitation to you is to do the following.
Normally towards the beginning of your sales call, you will have a chance to listen to the client sharing their situation. What is their business, what challenges are they facing, and how do they hope you can help them?
If they’re not sharing this information, it’s your responsibility to ask for it.
If they’re sharing and you’re not quite getting a clear picture of what work you would actually deliver to them or what tasks you would complete for them on a day-to-day basis, it also becomes your responsibility to ask “clarification questions” so that you can effectively find out.
Once you do know what the client's situation is and what they want help with, essentially the context around what you might help them with, this is the time for the simple practice of…
Say to the client:
“thank you for sharing all of that info with me, let me give you a brief recap of what I heard you share so that I can make sure that I’m on the same page as you.”
Now in your own words, share your own digested recap of what you heard them say. There are roughly three levels of effectiveness a recap can be delivered at:
You are essentially repeating the same sentences and phrases the client shared - they know you listened to them, but they may not be sure you fully understood them since your recap is essentially “repeating” what they said.
You have made your best effort to listen to everything the client shared, and through your unique recap, you demonstrate through your own words that you understood what is needed. The client is satisfied that you “get it” after hearing your recap.
You have listened to everything the client has shared, and your recap helps the client realize that you truly understand their situation.
Through years of experience and practice, you have also developed the ability to listen in between their words and proactively understand future concerns and challenges in the project.
Your recap clearly and concisely demonstrates to the client that you have digested everything they mentioned, stripped away superfluous information, and zoomed in and the most important elements.
When the client hears your recap, they are certain that you truly understand their challenge, and through such a strong understanding of the problem, they are more confident you are able to deliver a solution.
Progressing from beginner to expert in your recaps is as simple as practicing. Every time you complete a recap, you will typically receive a response from the client that may fall into one of three buckets:
1. Not really - they tell you why your recap is incorrect (this is rare)
2. Yes, AND - They agree with what you recapped but also add additional information that covers something they forgot to mention or to correct an interpretation of yours that might be slightly off.
3. YES - They positively affirm that your recap was on-point and accurate. In some calls, they may even be excited because of how well they feel they’ve been listened to.
The quality of the delivery of your recap directly influences the client's trust in your communication soft skills and confidence that you are truly an expert in your craft. Mastery of recapping is profoundly simple but effective. Mastery requires practice. So practice every sales call!
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