Have you ever stopped to examine how you earn your sales? As a freelance ESL teacher, you should have a very simple but well thought out sales process to help you build your business!
My son just started a music class with a freelance teacher through the daycare he attends, and I noticed a few things that the teacher is doing really well, and one thing that fell through the cracks for her as she worked to close the sale with us. I wonder if you have ever made the same mistake she made – I know I have!
What went really well:
She connected with us through referral.
If you’re not working with referrals in your sales process, you need to be! It’s very likely THE best way for you to earn new business. The music teacher in our son’s case worked through the daycare’s director. The director, a very nice lady, asked us one afternoon if we’d be interested in having our son participate in music classes and that the daycare was working with a wonderful teacher who absolutely LOVED helping kids get into music and singing. This sounded great to us, so we agreed to put our name down on a waitlist for the next music group to begin.
A few days later we got a call from the music teacher. She was warm, friendly, and super easy to talk to over the phone. She quickly explained how she worked, and what kinds of activities she normally did with kids, explained her very simple fee structure, and then asked if we’d like to sign up. Her simple sales process!
Done deal, and all from a referral. It didn’t feel pushy or weird to get the call from the music teacher – in fact, it was really nice to hear from her. (Wouldn’t you like your ‘sales’ conversations to feel like that? Use referrals!)
Call Your Prospects:
The second thing the music teacher did an awesome job at was calling us – as I mentioned above. She didn’t wait long to do so, either. It was no more than a couple of days after we had that talk with the daycare director. Not a week. It wasn’t in two weeks, and it wasn’t a month. Just a few days! That’s important! If you get a referral from a friend or client, don’t take long to follow up! Do it while they’re warm! (The referral will be more likely to remember hearing about you. In our case, we knew/remembered the music teacher as soon as she mentioned her name and what she did.)
Mention The Referrer:
Within the first 30 seconds of the phone call with the music teacher, after she mentioned her name and what she did, she quickly let us know that the daycare director had given her our names because we were interested in working with her. That’s massively important! Hearing the director’s name IMMEDIATELY helped us relax – because we know the daycare director much better than the music teacher, right? Same goes for you! In your sales process, when you connect with a contact that a client or friend refers to you, be sure to always mention who did the referring! This will help your prospect relax.
The mistake – the one I’ve made, and the one you might be making that will cost you sales:
After our conversation with the music teacher we knew when her classes with our son would be, we knew how long each class would be, we knew how she would work, what activities they would do, how much she charged, and when we needed to pay. It was all good.
Then the weekend hit. And at the same time, our whole family got sick with the flu. Our kids missed an entire week of school – and our little guy missed his first music class. To top it off, we even missed paying for it, which wasn’t so bad because the music teacher’s payment policy was that she only billed for classes taken (not a great set up for her, but not what I’m talking about this time around…) A whole week went by with us being sick. Then Spring Break – no music class as there was no school.
So two weeks came and went – and we heard nothing from the music teacher about our missing payment.
IT wasn’t that we were trying to avoid paying, or that we didn’t want to pay. Nope. We had simply gotten so busy that we forgot all about it…until we picked up our son from daycare the other day and he happily told us that he loved his first music class!
Gulp! That’s when WE remembered that we had to pay.
Are you making this mistake with your prospects? I sure have! Though I’ve never started working with someone without first collecting payment from them, but I have neglected to followup with prospects for payment after explaining how everything worked, how much I charged, and when I needed payment in order to START working.
I didn’t follow up after my initial payment request/explanation because I didn’t want to be pushy or scare them off.
What often happens though is that your prospects get super busy too! Prospects may simply forget about paying you if you don’t have a simple, friendly reminder process in place.
Work through referrals. Connect with referrals sooner rather than later. Mention who did the referring to help your prospect relax more. Explain your services and fees in a quick but very friendly manner, and be wide open to answer any and all questions your prospect may have. Be sure to follow up with prospects if they don’t pay you by a preset time – they likely just forgot.
There you have it – some simple but very powerful parts to your sales engine! Do you have them in place and working in your freelance business?