When you are a freelance instructional designer, sales are an important part of selling your eLearning solutions
If you’re thinking of a career as a freelance instructional designer in elearning or instructional led training, or you’ve already made the leap to running your own ID business, you will need some sales skills. For me when I decided to go freelance, it was a return to the skills I already knew. After all, my career before training design was in retail sales. I just needed to blow the dust of these skills to become successful as a freelance instructional designer. to make things easy for you, I’ve broken the sales cycle down to a simple four-step process.
1. Building a Relationship
We’ve all got the email asking us to quote on a potential job. If you type up the quote and email it off, I promise you will never hear from 99% of these people ever again. That’s because you haven’t built a relationship with your potential client. I always set up a meeting whether it’s online or face to face to first of all discuss the potential client’s needs. Building that relationship is about many things, but an important aspect of it is trust. Think about it, do you trust an anonymous email, or do you trust someone who you’ve had a conversation with and listened to you speak.
2. Identify the Need
During that conversation, I do more listening than talking and allow the potential client to talk about their business needs. That’s right I said business needs. Companies don’t have training needs they have business needs. In fact, identifying the business goal is more important than any learning objective. For example, if Groot industries need to sell 100,000 planks in the upcoming year and they only sold 90,000 in the previous year, their business goal is to sell 10,000 more planks. Identifying the needs will mean lots of questions about the business. At first, you might think that the sales department has a performance gap in that they are not selling those 10,000 more planks. Once you do some more uncovering you might learn that the factory is not producing enough planks to cover that potential 100,000 planks. In either case, you need to ask lots of questions until you uncover the real need.
3. Demonstrate How You Can Satisfy That Need
One mistake I made in this area was in my speech patterns. I often would say things like “I think I can help you with this…” or “I’m pretty sure my training can solve your problems…”
A sales colleague of mine role played this out and he pointed it out to me. Since then I now say things like “My training solution will give you the results you’re looking for…” or “I can design an eLearning course that will address your needs and give you the results you’re after…”
Being confident in your skills and abilities will be contagious. People will also have that confidence. If you’re wishy-washy with your answers about your training solutions, they will likely hesitate.
4. Ask for the Contract
So often sale people forget to ask for the sale. Some people don’t ask for the sale because they are afraid of rejection. I think generally people want to buy things. Certainly, business managers want to get solutions to their business challenges. If you’ve done all the steps correctly up to this point, confidently ask for the sale. You can say things like “When would you like me to get started?” or “What email address can I use to send you the contract?”
You might be surprised that they will just take the next step without any objections.
If this article has helped you get started in your freelance business, I would love to hear from you. Also, if you have any other suggestions that could help others get started in freelance instructional design, feel free to put your story in the comments section below.