17 minutes! 17 whole minutes of being talked at after asking a very simple question before they even came close to offering an answer.

I made my decision right then. I would not hire them even if I desperately needed their services. They didn’t really care about me.

It felt as if I was being sold to rather than being listened to. If they had actually listened to me and what I said I needed most, they could have won my business.

Are you listening to your prospects during your sales calls?

If you’ve ever been on a sales call or proposal meeting and thought it went really well, only to find out the prospect hired someone else or decided to go a different direction?

Female creative services freelancer sits at laptop looking disheartened - Business of Creativity

You are not alone.

Sales can feel overwhelming to many freelancers and business owners, especially for creative service providers because you are selling a promise to create a solution…an invisible product.

But, closing sales does not have to be frustrating, mysterious, or uncomfortable.

And really, if you want to have the freedom, personal income, and fulfillment that a successful creative freelance business can give you, you need to get to “yes” more often.

Listening more is the key to:

  • helping your prospects feel heard and demonstrating that you really care
  • giving you the language to connect your services with the outcome they desire
  • customizing your proposal or estimate to match exactly their needs and making you the obvious choice

3 listening techniques you can use to land your next project

Two Women Freelancers Sitting On Chairs Talking Business of Creativity1. The Goal Is Understanding Not Pitching

Landing a project or a new client can feel like a high-pressure situation, especially since you would probably rather be creating than selling your services. But, closing a sale can be as simple as listening with the intention to truly understand their needs.

56% of prospects are likely to consider your services if you demonstrate a clear understanding of the buyer’s business needs according to a 2020 LinkedIn Survey. 

There is nothing more frustrating in a sales meeting for prospects than for them to share their objectives, goals and concerns, but feeling as if they have not been heard as you start pitching your packages or go on and on about your process/gear/accolades.

Things to help you create more connection in your sales meeting:

  • Ask open-ended questions to make sure you have clarity on what their needs are
  • Paraphrase the prospect’s ideas to make sure you have understood what they want out of the project.
  • Be present and take in the information the prospect is providing you without thinking of your own response.

By showing your prospective client that you are listening to their ideas and telling them you care about their specific needs and concerns you are one step closer to landing the project.

Even if you do not close this sale with them, if you are listening, you may find other ways to help your prospect…and that could lead to referrals and sales in the future.

2. Mirroring: Use Your Prospect’s Words

It is not enough to hear out your prospective client, but you have to show that you understand their needs and that their needs are important to you.

Mirroring verbal and non-verbal gestures has been shown to improve communication and trust.

According to research by The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, those who used mirroring techniques reached a settlement 67% of the time, in comparison 12.5% success rate for those who did not.

One of the best ways you can use this technique in a sales meeting is to show you are listening by using the prospective client’s words to reflect back to them their desired outcomes and biggest problem.

For example, if your prospective client uses the term “holistic approach” to mean “integrative process”. You can reflect those words in your service offering “we offer that holistic approach….”

This mirroring technique can even be used before the meeting. You can search your prospect’s profile online, and find how they use language and expression.

Speaking the language of your prospect creates more connection and demonstrates your commitment to providing the exact solution they are looking for.

A male and female creative freelancer and client high five over a laptop and cluttered table - Business of Creativity3. Extra Mile: Customize the Offer 

After doing the work of listening and understanding the client’s needs, you will need to make an offer.

Sometimes this is a verbal offer of one of your packages, but most often it is a written proposal or estimate. This is where you seal the deal and show the client that you understand their needs and demonstrate how your services are the best solution.

Having pre-packaged offers can be a great way to increase efficiency in your business and you can still use the mirroring technique when you present them. Use your packages, but use their language to talk about the outcomes of the proposed package.

If you are providing a unique proposal to your potential client you want it to be a reflection or what you’ve heard, in a custom presentation.

Going the extra mile and offering a customized proposal, is a great way to show that you have listened to their needs, concerns, ideas, and you understand their vision.

Sales does not have to be intimidating or adversarial, you are creating an opportunity that is mutually advantageous for your and the other party.

Your job during a sales call is to figure out what the other party truly needs, communicate their needs back to them, and make your solution the obvious choice.

Business of Creativity digs deeper to help creative service providers grow their business without getting lost in the process of sales and marketing.

If you want to learn ways to attract projects and clients you love, check out our Marketing and Sales Membership Program. 

Or if you prefer more one to one help with your sales, book a FREE session with one of our advisors.