Doing Business as a Designer: Focus on Selling

Posted on June 16, 2010


About three months ago, my friend Anya (a designer of many talents) posts on Twitter that she wants to transition from part time freelancing to doing a full time business. I knew that she was accustomed to getting business from referrals because I have been sending most her freelance jobs. So I tweeted back “Don’t give up.”

Two months later, I get a phone call from her and we decide to meet up for dinner. Anya tells me wearily (while drinking red wine) about her situation. She was emotionally distressed, directionless, tired, and was on the verge of quitting.

After listening to her story (and after her second glass), I saw where Anya was getting distracted. She had very little money to invest and has never sold anything professionally. So naturally, researching seemed to be the right thing to do.

Anya’s Distractions

1) She was stuck in planning and researching.

Her confusion started by reading books on how to get business. Anya did not realize that those tactics and strategies where meant for established companies, not startups. However, she did manage to find a market she would like to do design work for: wedding planners.

2) She was focused on tasks that did not contribute to sales efforts.

3) She feared rejection.

Anya should be focusing on direct response tactics such as calling, prospecting for leads on the internet and phone directories, sending emails, and bidding for design contracts. I explain to Anya that she will get more business this way because it’s rapid response and does not cost money (perfect for a startup). Her only limitation is her abilities and taking action.

Anya’s newest concern is how to approach prospects. I suggested that she can do online sales training with my company, KnowledgeCity. The course is about 1 hr and 30 minutes and is taught by a veteran sales professional. It’s also very affordable.

Anya’s Triumph

The next day, she did the sales training and emailed me after. She mentioned that the training had helped boost her sales confidence. Anya got educated about sales cycle and now knows what to expect when talking with prospects so she can close the sale.

Right after her day job, she immediately got started. Anya contacted 232 wedding planners by phone and email, in 5 days. A week later, five of her voicemails got answered. Of those five prospects, two of them wanted to get stationary packages designed. The other three wedding planners kept her as a vendor for future events.

Anya took her first steps into complete independence and is now more determined. After experiencing and witnessing first hand results, she told me

“All I had to do was ask, it’s that simple.”

Related posts:

Doing Business as a Designer: Getting Started
Doing Business as a Designer: The Reality of Sales and Marketing