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Thursday, March 18, 2010

7 Secrets to Closing Better Projects -- Faster By Ed Gandia

The following piece I received in an email newsletter after ordering Ed Gandia's book The Wealthy Freelancer. Can't wait to receive my copy in mail!

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What do you do when a potential client calls you about a project
opportunity? Do you know what questions to ask...and in what order? Do
you know what "next steps" you'll suggest based on the information you
gather?

OK...so developing a sales process is not the most exciting activity in
the world. But somewhere during my 11 years in sales, I came to the
realization that even a mediocre process beats no process at all.

In fact, following a well-defined process can not only help you
improve your sales effectiveness as a freelance professional, but it
can also help you stay relaxed, boost your confidence and save you a
great deal of time and effort.

The specific sales process you use should obviously depend on your
specific profession, the type of work you do and the kind of clients
you go after. But at a minimum, it should follow these simple
guidelines:

#1: Take Control
As the service provider, you need to take charge of the initial
conversation with the prospect. You're the expert. You know what
questions you must have answered. If you let the prospect take
complete control, you probably won't be able to gather all the needed
information. Or you might find yourself sharing ideas, references and
too many work samples prematurely.

#2: Determine the Problem to Be Solved
Find out what problem they're trying to solve, especially if the scope
of work is unclear. A simple "What do you need help with?" is often a
good conversation starter. Walk away from that first conversation with
something tangible.

#3: Learn More About the Prospective Client
Ask a few questions to help you determine what type of prospect you're
dealing with. One of the first questions I always ask is "How did you
find out about me?" That's because someone who came via client
referral is very different from someone who found me through a Google
search.

#4: Learn More About the Work
Next, you need to learn more about the project or work to be done. You
don't need to know every single detail...at least not yet. Just enough
to help you put a proposal together. The more detailed questions
should be saved for a future conversation -- once you land the work.

#5: Check for Budget
As many of you know, I'm a proponent of bringing up the issue of fees
early on. Why? Because the time to find out that this is NOT a good
prospect (from a budget perspective) is now -- not after you've spent 1
or 2 (or more!) hours putting a proposal together.

I'm not suggesting you should quote an exact fee at this point;
providing the prospect with an approximate range will often do the
trick.

#6: Avoid Jumping Through Hoops
At the same time, you should try to limit the amount of work and
information you provide until you know you have a qualified prospect,
a good potential fit and strong commitment that you're their top
choice (or at least on the short list, if there is one). In other
words, referrals, detailed samples, concepts and the like should all
wait until you're closer to striking a deal. They should rarely be
part of that first conversation.

#7: Ask for the Work

Never be afraid to ask for the work. I call prospects just a few hours
after emailing my proposal. I flat out ask if we can get started. And
if you're in a situation where a committee will be making the
decision, always ask when that decision will be made. When that day
comes, call to ask for the work.

Whatever you do, don't "wing it." Develop a good process and put it
down on paper. Continue to refine it as you learn what works well and
what doesn't.

--
Ed Gandia is the co-founder of TheWealthyFreelancer.com and
co-author of The Wealthy Freelancer: 12 Secrets to a Great Income and
an Enviable Lifestyle
. To download 3 free chapters of his book, visit
www.TheWealthyFreelancer.com.

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