How Sales Skills Will Improve Your Freelance Business

One of my first jobs out of college involved direct customer sales where I got a crash course on how to be a salesperson. Not a salesperson like I had been when I worked at random retail jobs in the past, but getting professionals to throw down thousands of dollars and feel really excited about it.

At the time, I saw this job solely as a way to get my foot into the door of the companies design department (it worked) but as I look back now on that time it was probably some of the most valuable work experience I have ever had! Every bit I learned that year about selling I have applied to my design business in talking with clients about their projects.

It’s All About the Product (Services)!

The most important part to selling, is believing in the product, if you don’t — you’re going to come off sleazy… no one is going to trust you. While you may finagle someone into shelling out the doe, they are likely to feel more nervous about the transaction than excited.

I see this with freelancers all the time, they are not confident in their work (some with reason, some without) and this comes across when they talk about their services. I am surely not going to throw down my hard earned cash and gamble my businesses reputation on someone who doesn’t feel confident about the product they’re supplying! Would you?

The harsh truth, this can’t be faked. You either believe you can offer your clients top quality services or you don’t. If you don’t you can still try and sell it — but it’s not going to be so easy.

It’s All About the Customer (and how you treat them)!

So you are 100% behind your product? Good. Now here is the hard part, get behind your customer.

By this I mean… it’s not just about selling the goods, it’s about honing in on what your client needs and delivering that to them. Your interaction with the client is PART of the product when you are a freelancer. Be a good person, care about your client, listen to them and tell them what YOU would do if YOU where them.

A 20 page site with a full company owners biography and photo gallery of their office space would bring in a lot more money to your business, but this guy’s plumbing company would get a better return on his investment with a concise one page. Do you tell him this? YES, you do!

When you focus on delivering the right solution to your clients and getting the best results for them – you’re delivering a superior product.

I truly do believe, we are sales people. We are selling our abilities to help grow our clients businesses. It’s funny that I didn’t see this connection back then, but I am so glad that I paid attention to those sales lessons and was able to draw upon them and make this connection later down the road!

Did you ever have a job that isn’t design related that taught you a valuable business lesson? Leave a comment and tell us about it!


  1. I agree totally on this. I spent almost 15 years running a health food store & selling face to face in the store. People were trusting their health & well-being to me. This has helped me sell our design services very easily. Feeling comfortable making eye contact with potential clients, while talking to them about what it is that you do, allows them to see your sincerity, honesty & your passion for your work. When people feel they can trust you to help & guide them develop their brand, niche…

  2. Great points! Your post reminds me of when I worked for some Financial Advisors right out of college. Every day they depended on the CRM software known as ACT. They kept track of every single meeting, phone call, email, etc. through this software, and would schedule reminders to get in touch with clients for 6 months or a year ahead. It was a great way to keep all the advisors on the same page, so everyone knew the full history of client communications. Even if only one person interacts with a client, no one’s memory is perfect. Or at least mine isn’t. And reminders are a great tool so no one is forgotten. I’ve applied this by using CRM software myself. Currently I’m using Highrise, which is not as feature-filled as ACT, but it works for now. Ahh…those first jobs…You don’t realize how you’ll apply those lessons until you’re long gone.

  3. Straight up good sound advice that many sometimes, just don’t see. It should be common sense, but alas, some don’t get it. Lack of confidence is the major hurdle I see for most.

  4. I used to work in a warehouse where I would pack merchandise on a truck and box items. Doesn’t seem all that relevant I suppose, but I did learn that you must treat your work with care and take the time to test your processes for completing tasks. This ensures that you’re being productive and streamlining your work flow throughout time. It really gave me a decent sense of business, customer satisfaction is without a doubt a top tier consideration when doing something like freelancing. There’s no reason to sell a half asses product, might as well go all the way!

  5. It’s great that you’re blessed with such diverse skills, and quite inspirational. I also think that being a good salesman takes time and common sense. And the ability to be able to have confidence in your product/service. Paul – time, money & mileage tracking for freelancers

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