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Season 2, Episode 5

Writing Sales Pages

Episode Summary

Sales pages. As a freelancer or indie consultant, when does it make sense to use them? What’s their “job” for your business? How should you approach writing them? How do you handle creating a sales page if you aren’t yet specialized in a particular area? Our panel discusses that and more on this week’s episode.

Links Mentioned


  • Kai Davis
  • Erik Dietrich
  • Reuven Lerner


Each episode, the panel (and guest) share their picks: a book, app, service, resource, or something else that they’re enjoying and recommend you check out:

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Episode Transcript

Kai: Hey, everybody. Thanks for joining us today for the Business of Freelancing podcast. Today, we’re going to dive into Sales Pages for freelancers, Indie consultants, and firms. When they make sense, how to get started with them, and how a generalist can approach writing a Sales Page for offerings they might not quite yet have. You’ll really enjoy this episode. On today’s panel, we have Reuven Lerner.

Reuven: Hey, everyone. 

Kai: We have Erik Dietrich.

Erik: Hey, everybody. 

Kai: And I’m your host, Kai Davis. So gang, let’s talk a little bit about Sales Pages today for the freelancers in the audience, the Indie consultants, the firms, and just help our listeners better understand what these are as a resource and how they might be able to start using them. So kicking things off, top of mind question, when are Sales Pages useful? What are they useful for us in our businesses? Reuven, I know you have a bunch of different areas of the business. So what comes to mind there?

Reuven: Right, I have basically two different audiences for two different types of training services that I offer, I have the corporate training. It’s really rare for a corporation to just be surfing the web saying, Oh, I need some Python training, stumble upon my Sales Pages, and then call me up as a result. What’s more common is that they’ll call me and they’ll say, and we’ll talk about things a little bit, it may be a referral. 

Then I’ll refer them to my Sales Page, and that, then is not trying to convince them, you have a problem, and I can solve it. But if you have this problem, and I know you do, because you’re reading this page, I can solve it, and here’s the nitty-gritty that you need. But again, that’s not trying to get anyone excited about the problem or really empathize with them. As much as we both know, you need this, let’s see if I’m the right fit. The B2C Sales Pages that I have are much closer to what we think of in terms of Sale Pages, where there’ll be someone who will happen upon it, whether it’s for my list, whether for our YouTube channel, Twitter, wherever it is.

They come upon it, and that’s my chance, that’s my elevator pitch as it were, right, I’ve got a limited amount of time to grab their attention, say, “You have this problem, right? I can solve your problem, and you’re going to love it, and you’re going to want to give me money for it.” So those pages are structured very differently because they’ve never heard of me before, or if they have, again, this is my chance.

That’s probably closer to what most people in our audience are thinking about and looking at it, and what we’ll spend time talking about. If you look online for like hints about writing Sales Pages, they’re structured in that way as well.

Kai: That makes sense. How about for you, Erik? How do you use Sales Pages in your business?

Erik: Well, for all the years that I was doing management consulting, I would answer poorly, like, it’s probably nothing that I ever really figured out in that practice because that practice was inbound and word of mouth. So through a number of sources where I would create content, maybe IT leadership would see that. I had created a course on something or I had a blog with a pretty big following, and they’d find it there, and then it would just lead to a phone call. Then there was word of mouth, which just also led to a phone call. 

So in consulting, I never really successfully or had any reason to, but I never executed a particularly good Sales Page, I would have something up that was like, here’s the problems I can solve, but I don’t think it ever really helped too much. 

On the flip side with the business, Hit Subscribe that we have the Sales Page, there is like part one that Reuven talked about, I don’t think anybody’s really finding it through the internet. It’s somebody has found us via word of mouth, or through some other channel, and they wind up going there to check out our offerings and pricing. 

So the Sales Page that we have there is kind of clarification, it helps separate tire-kickers from serious customers because there’s pricing listed. It helps clarify what we can help with. So really, it’s less about persuasion, and more about just letting customers prospects, self-select. So it makes sales calls more efficient when we have them less of a chance of somebody asking us to do something for $300 when there’s nothing anywhere near that on our page in terms of the price point. 

So that for us, it’s a communication vehicle as Hit Subscribe, but one of the things we’re growing and we might be bringing on more staff to do certain things. If we were to get like dedicated marketing personnel, we may then look to make organic search a significant channel. In that case, then we’d look to have I don’t know what you’d call it for a productized service is not really a features page, but a Pain, Dream, Fix sort of apparatus there because we do help clients with that a lot. We don’t create sales copy, but they’ll have sales copy or features pages. 

We’re trying to bring people from blog post to those pages. So, in summary, I could offer some do as I say not as I do type advice for freelancers, because I never did Sales Page well as one myself. But I have learned a lot about it since then.

Kai: In my collection of businesses, it’s similar to both of you where I’ll use the Sales Page, not necessarily to attract traffic or to rank high in Google. But I’ll use it as a place to direct people, in inbound lead, word of mouth, somebody gets referred in, or somebody on my email list, they say, “Hey, Kai, can you help my Shopify store with SEO?” I say, “Yes, I can. Here’s the service I recommend.” So it almost acts as a digital piece of marketing collateral where I’ll say, “Read this, it describes the offering the price, who’s a good fit, who’s a terrible fit.” There’s a call to action on the page. 

So I definitely like it as a step further into the funnel, where I’m not expecting people to show up cold and then plunk down 1500 bucks for my SEO audit service. But I do expect people who are warm who are on the list who have listened to me on podcasts like this one, to say, “Oh, I want to learn a little more.” Okay, perfect, the Sales Page acts as that vehicle.

It’s a little bit different when it comes to the actual digital products I sell, like my ebooks or courses, where the Sales Page does attract some people in and occasionally does rank for a term that gets some conversion through it. But even there, I very much see it as the step two or step three behind, somebody already in my network, somebody already on my email list. 

So with the product Sales Page, it does direct people more towards like, “Oh, go buy this thing now, because it’s a lower price point.” But for services or productized services or consulting offers, it’s much more informational. Here’s an artifact, this will let us have a better conversation about your goals, your problems, how I could help the solutions I could bring to the table, and what this process might look like.

Erik: Now that you mentioned, products, I spaced on this, but I do have a book that tends to sell fairly well and has over the years. That has a traditional like, I used Thrive Leads or something to build a traditional Sales Page for the book that just didn’t really occur to me, but I do have some experience there. I embarrassingly don’t really know how all that works. I don’t know if people are finding the book through Amazon, word of mouth, or that Sales Page. I do know that I get a bit of traffic to it. 

So, yeah, that definitely for something like a product, B2C lower price point, you’re talking about a way different Sales Page, probably then a freelancer might create for their own service. But hey, having a low price like product as a way to get people to trust you, it seems like a pretty good idea.

Kai: Lots of agreement for me on that friend. One thing that has come to me overtime when it comes to Sales Pages is we talk about the value and having a specialization or having an expensive problem that you focus on. But folks can often end up in the situation where like, “Oh, I focus on these three separate problems or have a specialization over here and over here within one industry.”  

What I like Sales Pages for just like a service offering page for is the better sort of silo, like, Oh, I know a lot about digital outreach. Here’s my service offering page on that. I know a lot about SEO, here’s the service offering page where the specializations are really on different sides of the room, and so it makes it easier for me to just focus in on the most irrelevant information.

Reuven: This sort of, I don’t know if you call that productized consulting, but it is in many ways. The idea that someone can look at a list of what you’re offering, and say, “Okay, out of these five things, these ten things, these two speak to me, these two I’ll never need and a few others I might need in the next few years.” But it allows them to think about it.

I was just talking to a training manager at a company that I’ve worked with quite a bit. We were talking about doing a regular Python course, and she said, “Oh, and as I was looking through your list of Silibinin courses, I saw you also do Git courses. Can we order that site?” I was like, “Of course you can please, that’s why it’s there.”

So it never would have occurred to her to ask, to think about it, except that it was there. So having it available there on the menu as it were served as almost a silent, passive upsell.

Kai: Mm-hmm. I love that you mentioned menu there because that’s a really solid metaphor for how to think about these offerings or just using a Sales Page. It’s not something you’re wedded to for all time. It’s not something you need to put in everybody’s face. But it could just be on the menu while you want to offer it, and when you hit a point, you’re like, “Oh, I don’t enjoy doing this anymore.” You just remove it from the Sales Page and add it back in at a later date. But it definitely gives you some flexibility and control over when and how you’re surfacing things.

Erik: So I agree intensely about this idea of don’t think of your Sales Page as something that you’re like casting and granted. With Hit Subscribe, we revisit what we’re offering, we revisit the price points, how we’re describing it, and how we’re positioning it. Fairly routinely, I can’t put an exact number on it, but probably at least quarterly, we’re reconsidering what we’re offering and how. 

So if you’re out there listening, and you’re thinking, I want to create a Sales Page, maybe for the first time, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re creating your offerings forever. You can err on the side of saying, here are a few things I’d like to do, of almost like, imagine you’re like reverse engineering, successful sales call. So what does a good sales call look like? What is a client or prospect turning client just asked you to do?

Then if you think about, like, working backward from there, given whatever they’ve just asked you to do? What kind of information would have led to that conversation? You would probably want to be talking about well, I have a discovery offering, I have a Legacy Code Base rescue offering, or whatever it is. So if you were just closing a deal to go and help rescue a Legacy Code Base, what would you want on your site, that would be oriented around that? That’s going to change over the years as you evolve, as you get better, etc. So think of that and revisit it from time to time, I would say.

Reuven: Yeah, don’t be afraid to kill off old bad products, or services. It’s okay to switch your focus, it’s okay to say, well, I’m going to dive deeper into X rather than Y. I have taken off some courses I don’t teach anymore, and I’ve also taken courses that I have taught and split them up. So I’m going to go on my Data Science course, it’s now four days long, I will soon be training to two to four day-long courses, because it’s already bursting the seams with content, and that’s great, right? 

It’s more things people for people to say it’s, these are ways for you to be tagged almost in the minds of your customers, or potential customers, and so it should reflect what you’re currently doing. They are not going to remember, wait six months ago, they were offering intro to XYZ, and now they only have advanced XYZ, they’re not going to remember it, they’re going to see what’s in front of them.

Erik: [laughs] When you were talking, I was just about to say the same thing. If you guys have like heard of the spotlight effect, or anybody listening out there, but it’s this idea that you think people are paying a lot more attention to everything you do than they are? For those of you out there listening, I promise that nobody is going to be like, “Hey, I actually made detailed notes on your Sales Page six months ago, and it looks different today.” 

That would be a great comment to have because it means that your Sales Page is super interesting to people, but I promise you that won’t happen. People will not remember and if they did, they won’t care. Change it, it will in a way that suits the sales conversations you’re looking to have.

Kai: That’s a super valuable point. It definitely is organic. It’s a living document or a page or living asset, not something that’s locked in stone. So as you decide, “Oh, I hate working on this expensive problem, or, the way I’ve been solving this, or the way I approach this for my clients by process has changed over the last six months.” Sales Page should be updated. I love what you said earlier, Erik, about revisiting it quarterly. 

That’s a valuable takeaway for anybody, like, you need to have even just a simple process to say, “Hey, we’re going to go in, we’re going to read through it, we’re going to see like,” Oh, do we have testimonials in here that we can upgrade because we have new better ones? Has our pricing change? Do we want to raise our rates here? Or do we just want to polish and solidify our offering here, because we have another three or six months of experience talking about this, delivering it and getting feedback from clients and prospects.”

So lots of ways you could feed info from the business back in and slowly and incrementally upgrade a Sales Page from a basic Sales Page to “Oh, this is looking really sharp, this is really polished.”

Reuven: By the way, I update my Sales Pages for my corporate training. I don’t do it once every quarter, but certainly like once or twice a year, typically either saying, “Oh, I don’t teach this anymore, like changing the syllabus, which people do sometimes not often, but sometimes they pay attention to and incorporating whatever questions people have asked. So if I find a lot of people asking the same thing, I’ll just put in the Sales Page and cut that off, not necessarily in the FAQ format, but not that different from it.

Erik: I think that there’s a great relationship between the sales conversation that you have like a sales call and the Sales Page. So I was thinking about Reuven, where you just said in terms of clearing up confusion, something you can pre-answer ahead of a sales call, but also, are there things that are leading to mismatches on a sales call? Like maybe you’re… Like I tossed out legacy rescue is an idea earlier, like maybe you want to be focused on legacy rescue, but you find that for whatever reason, you’re getting a lot of calls about Greenfield development. 

You can tune the messaging on there to disqualify this business that you don’t want. For instance, we just do legacy rescue and over infield development, I don’t know that I would recommend per se getting into what you don’t offer on your Sales Page too much. But you can use it to tune the message to try to filter out things that are poor fits, either on sales calls are even with clients. 

So if you’re getting a lot of nickel, a diamond at the low end of the price spectrum, you might say, “Hey, I do legacy rescue engagements, but only for clients of this size, or only of X scope.” Those things will naturally filter out tire-kickers. So you can get into situations wherein your CRM and on sales calls you find if you’re having a really inefficient series of conversations, where you’re almost ending the call and saying like, “Look, you’re not a fit.” The Sales Page can be a great, pre-selection step so that you can get better signal to noise ratio on the kinds of sales calls and relationships that you want to have.

Reuven: I should add, I don’t know if you guys use Calendly, I’m pretty sure you do for having potential clients set up calls. So I actually have SMAC on my main website, “Hey, do you want to talk about training, click here.” I have gotten literally zero inputs from that, except people who just want to chat. So, I have had to increasingly turn the screws on what I say on that Calendly link and what happens when you click on it so that in the off chance someone actually wants to contact me about training, I’ll know that they’re a truly serious and potential lead. 

I would take it off of my homepage on my website, except that I feel like well, I might be missing some opportunities somewhere. Also, this shows I’m open to conversations, even if they never happen. But now it says very exclusively, “If you’re an individual not calling from a company, don’t do this.” And yet, and yet.

Kai: Thinking tactically for a second, I’ve run into something very similar in the past where the naked Calendly link can burn me or just be hard for the other person to use intelligently. I really like sticking a short application form in front of it. So it would be like, “Hey, you want to talk to me about training? You have four questions? What size is your organization? What’s your budget? Have you hired a professional trainer before?”

If they answer the right things or have an assistant or yourself just review the answers, and then ship a Calendly link back to them. It can increase the fidelity for you a bit just so you have more data, and it makes them put on the thinking hat, “Oh, what outcome are we looking for with training? Well, we don’t know.” Okay, you probably are not a fit to talk with me yet.

Erik: I really like to, I’m trying to think through the lens of what we do, because I’m not. When it comes to scheduling initial calls with Hit Subscribe, we have increasingly staff that’s handling things. So I don’t do that directly, and I’m trying to think of, I believe that… So we have… This is kind of interesting to me to think about because I’ve been giving it some thought, Hit Subscribe in its very earliest days was my wife and I running a lifestyle business doing content creation.

Fast forward three years, we have employees, it’s a much bigger operation. I don’t write blog posts anymore. But back then we created this apply to be a client page. They would fill out some stuff, and we would screen based on the seriousness of that, and then set up a sales conversation. Okay, exactly what you’re saying. 

Now is we’re bigger, I’ve started to rethink like, I love the idea of apply to be a client for a lifestyle business. But now that it’s not even the same people that are involved with setting up initial conversations as the sales team or whatever, it’s starting for a bigger operation to look like we can’t manage our customer intake, like what do you mean, apply to be a client here? A B2B operation. 

So, without getting too far afield thinking through those processes, not only are they going to evolve, but there is, there might be people involved, like if you hire a VA or you grow. But I think that the core of what you’re doing there really comes down to like, how do you minimize tire-kicking? How do you minimize bad fit? Like, really, if you think of a funnel app gesturing, nobody’s going to be able to hear that, then my apologies. 

But if you’re thinking of this as a funnel, and your Sales Page is wider, higher up in the funnel, and then it filters people down to a sales call, you want to have as few useless sales calls as possible. There’s a lot of clever automation, where if you just create the slightest barriers to entry, you can filter out the wrong stuff. 

So, I think that we’re touching on something important for anyone who’s thinking about setting up a Sales Page to consider is like, how do you imagine that somebody is visiting your Sales Page. You want them self-selecting, whether to continue or not? In a way where the good fits will continue in the bad ones won’t. What clever things can you do to bridge that gap? We’re discussing some interesting ideas here, introduce a little bit of barrier to entry, ask them to self-qualify.  

There’s probably other things that I’m not fully thinking through here, but I do think that’s important, bridging the gap between the Sales Page and the sales conversation.

Kai: You saying that made me think a little more about the Sales Page as a job to be done artifact. I like what you said there where the goal the Sales Page is to point people towards the sales call, but filter people through. So, it’s not everybody who hits here is booking a call, but people are self-selecting, people are weeding themselves out. 

That’s a valuable thing to keep in mind, especially if a listener is thinking about, I’d love to have a Sales Page, it feels like it would have me write fewer proposals, or at least have better initial calls, but they don’t have a product or a productized service or productized offer yet to pitch. 

So what exactly are they pitching? Well, you’re going to have a Sales Page around a specific problem. This is my copywriting service. This is my Legacy Code Base rescue service. I’m talking about, this is the pain, this is the problem you’re in, you’ve got this horrible code base, and you’re wondering who’s going to rescue you.

Instead of pointing them towards this as my service, you could say, well, we’ve talked about the pain, we’ve talked about the outcome you’re looking for, here’s a bit of social proof, and the call to action, our next step is to book a call or fill out this form, and we’ll get in touch if it seems like we’re a good match. 

So you can be pitching something that’s a bit more squishy. It’s a call, not an offer, or a paid project. But it still fits into that Sales Page and helps guide people forward from the top of the funnel of, Oh, this is a problem I have, you could help with it, too. Oh, I believe you might be able to help. Great, let’s set up a call to dive a little deeper into this.

Reuven: I buy all sorts of courses and online books and so forth. I find it fascinating that it works, even if you know how these things work, even if we understand, Oh, it’s going through the pain and then you’re identifying with, and here’s the solution, and buy. So if it’s a good Sales Page that I’m going to see, I’m going to identify with that panel and say, “Yes, this is the problem I’m having, and I do want to solve it, take yo, yo shut up and take my money.”

Just last week, I got a course exactly for that reason. I saw the pain at the top and I scroll down to the bottom, and as long as it was a semi-reasonable amount of money, I was more than willing to pay. So, I try to keep that thing in mind, sometimes better than others, try and keep in mind, when I’m building my Sales Page, what are the problems people are having? I need to go further than that. 

We were discussed a little bit before we started recording, that it’s hard to sell things that are hard to sell. Let’s say it’s hard to sell things that you can’t describe the pain, and that you can’t describe that the tangible benefit people are going to be having. I have been really struggling for the last few years on why are people not buying my online courses? Like any, some do, it’s certainly like a decent living, but it’s not making the crazy amounts of money that some people are doing for online courses. 

One of the things I’m now pivoting toward doing is instead of having a course on Functions, and a course on Data Structures, and a course on Objects. Have intro to Python, put Python on your resume, and all of a sudden, it becomes a very tangible, “Oh, that’s something I want. That’s going to give me a job.”

It was a revelation for me to get, and it was not for me it was from talking to other people and filtering through lots of ideas to see, “Aha, this is a pain point someone has and I can solve it.” It’s the same content, but it’s spinning a different way.

Erik: For anyone listening out there, there’s a term that all three of us are familiar with. But if you’ve never written Sales Pages before, you’re trying to think of how to do it, it’s called Pain, Dream, Fix. It’s a paradigm for reasoning about how to persuade somebody to a sale. So the idea is that we’re all talking about here, there’s pain, you’re identifying a concrete pain, like a need that somebody has. So for instance, with a Legacy Code Base, what is the pain of a Legacy Code Base, usually, it’s something like, hey, it’s taking you a month to develop features of the same scope that used to take a week, everything slow down, every time you touch it, it breaks. 

These are pains, these are things that like IT directors or whoever you’re going to be selling this service to, it keeps them up at night, I’m going to shift code and it’s going to be a disaster. So you’re identifying these pains that they have because they’re going to be receptive when they’re having those pains to ideas about how to fix them. 

The Dream part of it is, hey, are you terrified of what happens the next time you ship software because everything’s going to break? The Dream is what if you weren’t? What if you could just hit deploy on a random Thursday afternoon and know that everything was going to be fine. 

Then the Fix part is what you do, which is hey, I’ll come in and do a legacy rescue. So I’m going a little bit meta here outside of the conversation and explaining that because in my opinion, if you take nothing away when it comes to how do you sell things, whether it’s on a Sales Page or a sales call, that is, to me the best framework in the world, because you identifying what it is. Purchases are more of an emotional decision than you would think. 

So that IT director losing sleep over an upcoming deployment. That’s a very emotional experience, and if you can deliver on relieving that person of that experience, that’s powerful, that’s going to get at least conversations, if not outright sales. So, if you take nothing away from anything that I’ve said, I would say, look more into that framework and think about how you might explain it. 

Because you guys, I’m sure would have some experience here potentially agree, a lot of freelancers are going to start out when they’re first freelancing in the same way that you might have started out qualifying yourself for jobs, which is, “Hey, I have this resume, I have all these skills, I’ve done all this stuff, you should give me a call.”

It’s kind of the opposite of Pain, Dream, Fix because that’s not any of those. It’s just like, some hiring manager knows that they need a Java resource to help them with their legacy, but there’s no emotional connection. There’s no, I have this problem that you’re helping me with. It’s I’ve got a problem, I’ve already solved most of it, and I’m plugging you in. So I don’t know, have you guys implemented Pain, Dream, Fix thinking in writing Sales Pages?

Reuven: So first, the answer is yes. But let me even say, it was 20 years ago, or so that I had a bunch of employees working for me. My website basically said I do Web Development. I do all these languages. I do this and that. One of my employees said, “Listen, I’ve heard it’s not good to talk about the technology. We have to talk about the solutions, the business solutions we’re offering people.” 

So I said, “We provide business solutions using these technologies.” I completely missed the mark. Completely, I just stopped putting solutions in there, that was the issue. No, I definitely now, whether it’s my main webpage, whether it’s by-products, especially the B2C products, I want people to know, “If you’re looking to improve your Python, I’m the guy for you, I’m going to help you out no matter where you are, and here’s what you’ll be able to do. Here’s how much better you can get, and here’s the right thing to do.”

Yes, and works certainly better than what I had before. There has been improvement, but it’s a never-ending improvement, house improvement cycle. Like you will find better ways to express the pain, people will give you feedback. I will just have one thing here, which is when people join my mailing list, I them fill out a survey. Not everyone does, most people don’t, but I have now more than 1000 surveys. One of the questions I ask is, “What problems are you having? What frustrations do you have?” I can just use that, mind that text there, in order to put it on my Sales Pages.

Kai: You touched on something I want to highlight Reuven, the value of feeding voice of the customer or voice of the prospect into the Sales Page where it’s such a valuable way just to enrich and power up your Sales Page over time. Just taking details from conversations with leads, conversations with clients, surveys, when people opt-in, reading forums in the 30*500, Stacking the Bricks, Sales Safari method where you’re observing your ideal customers in the wild. 

So there’s almost like a continuum here, that’s valuable to point out where you could start with a squishy idea of what I’m offering, it’s going to just be a call at this time. I have a decent but still squishy idea of the pain they need, help with their Legacy Code Base. But you could get started with something as simple as that, 500-600 words of copy. Over time, as you have conversations, as you talk to people, you realize, Oh, I could describe this pain in a different way or the outcome they actually want. 

I have talked to a dozen people, it’s different than what I was envisioning. So you could almost upgrade piece by piece with voice of customer and data from calls overtime just to get a more powerful Sales Page. So it doesn’t need to start at 400, it can start at 100 and grow over time and become more specific. 

I definitely use this approach a lot in my productized offer Sales Pages, I found it really, really effective just to be able to start from the point of well, this is the pain, this is the problem. The reason you’re here is because you’re wondering why your competitor keeps outranking you and you just can’t put it together. 

From that pain statement, just leading them forward to here’s the dream, or here’s the outcome I could help you move towards, and here’s specifically how I could help you go in that direction moving towards the pitch for the call or the pitch to apply. But I found it to be really powerful just as a way to better center myself in the sense when writing the Sales Page. If it’s about this pain I know let’s not mention these three other things, let’s just be more laser-focused on this particular problem and how I could help them within this context.

Erik: It occurs to me that because people will write into me through my own site and ask questions about this that we’re talking about the idea of market research, I’ll call it loosely. So I’ve never heard the term Sale Safari, but that’s I can picture exactly what that means. Where one thing people seem to wonder about a lot is like, Okay, how would I even know what a pain is? Or what dreams are of these people that I’m trying to sell to, especially if you come from the 9 to 5 world, and you’re used to qualifying yourself with resumes, it’s a much different paradigm? It’s important. 

So feeding what you learn back into the Sales Page lets you generate things like customer testimonials, by the way, where when you hear about how you’ve helped customers, you can capture that data. But there’s this mindset shift, that has to happen, in order to have a coherent sales process that’s really driven by what it is you’re solving these pains and stuff. A lot of that is learning to listen, which sounds sort of overly simplistic or silly, but really, it boils down to that. 

Yeah, obviously, you want to get on the phone with prospects that might give you a bunch of money to do some application development or graphic design or whatever you want to do. But there’s also an element out there when you’re gathering pains and trying to figure out how you can fix them. That You might in the beginning, when you’re trying to figure out what sales look like, what a Sales Page look like.

Schedule a bunch of exploratory conversations and do interviews with people where maybe it’s IT directors, and you say, “Look, I don’t have any particular product or offering to sell you I have no Sales Page at the moment. I’m trying to learn what keeps folks like you up at night. Do you have half an hour, I can pick your brain?”

You would be surprised maybe and how often a lot of people will say yes to that if you really are in good faith, not trying to sell them anything, where you’re interviewing them. People like to be interviewed, they like to share their expertise. So an important part of this discovery is expanding who you might talk to in the beginning and doing this market research, interview people, what is it that’s bothering them? What’s hard for them? 

There are some great questions, you can ask like, “Hey, if you could wave a magic wand and solve anything about your job, what would it be? Or what keeps you up at night? Or what is the most unpleasant thing you do on a day to day basis?”

People start talking a lot about that, because people like to vent and that venting, those are pains, they might ultimately not be the ones that you want to address and fix yourself, but you’re learning a lot, you go out and you gather those pains, and then you start to think, “Hey, I can fix this one, I do a lot of work with Legacy Code Bases. I’m hearing a lot about it taking way too long to develop features. I feel like I could address that.”

So the market research is an important part of that, and that ties in with this idea of voice of the customer. What are people actually saying? What are their actual pains? Not what have you decided, when you sit down to write a Sales Page that you think people need? What do they want? What are their pains? That is super valuable research to be able to do and to learn in the wild like if you’re engaged with a client, set up some lunchtime conversations or some drinks after work or something where you just ask people at the client about that. Maybe you get testimonials out of it for your Sales Page or maybe you just learn how to better articulate how you’re helping them. 

Reuven: I couldn’t agree more with everything you just said.

Kai: One, one thing that comes to mind through that is, in a sense, Sales Pages don’t really make sense or aren’t the right tool for people who are firmly locked in the generalist stance. If you’re trying to sell,  just my skills in any way to anybody who needs me, you’re starting from a point where you really can’t do any market research, you can’t have effective conversations or informational conversations with people because your scope is just too wide. 

I want to talk to you any business owner about their business problems, all you hear is the sound of crickets. But as you become more radically focused, I want to talk to Shopify store owners who have SEO questions or get their traffic through Google, it makes it a lot easier to know what types of questions to ask and know how to fold those answers back into your offer or your Sales Page. 

I think we touched on this earlier, but it’s a more advanced approach. But it really works well to have an idea of who you want to be selling to, to then go out and talk with them, to then build the Sales Page. It definitely doesn’t spring fully formed from one’s head, you need almost starting to be crystal clear clarity on who you’re trying to reach. Because otherwise, again, you’re going to be writing that Sales Page for everyone, and that just makes it really squishy and muddled.

Erik: Yeah, that brings up a good question. So if you’re a freelancer, that’s just a total generalist, what do we recommend to that person in terms of a Sales Page? Like what does a general Sales Page look like? Do you pick a thing to focus on? Do talk about yourself? I don’t have a great answer for that.

Honestly, in the early days of my freelancing, it’s probably why I didn’t have a Sales Page, I had no idea what I would write on there. I would be curious as to what your guys on that is?

Reuven: It never occurred to me for years and years, I had the most minimalist, ridiculous website, and it didn’t seem to change things at all. Maybe that’s because no one was looking at my website, I wasn’t selling anyone because I was doing general Web Development for whoever would call me. It’s only when I started to really specialize, that it became useful, interesting. By the way, not just for my special clients, but for me, because putting that in writing of what am I specializing in.

I remember, when I started tagging myself as doing training, I was very nervous, like, “Oh, well, what’s going to happen, people are not going to ask me to do other things.” The opposite, they happen as predicted by Phillip Morgan, and everyone else’s who knows about this stuff, which is when you specialize people want you more. 

But I would say if people can specialize even early on, to some degree, it doesn’t have to be a huge specialization. But maybe there’s a certain vertical you’ve been working with, maybe you’ve worked with a bunch of banks, or a bunch of supermarkets, or a bunch of Shopify stores, just trying. If you want to work with such things as that, just saying that already puts you in the direction of being able to identify potential customers.

Erik: You know what that just sparked? I’m thinking of pick something thinks that through is like, if you’re a complete generalist, and you don’t know what to do for a Sales Page, and maybe you haven’t yet done any Pain, Dream, Fix type of analysis or anything at all? Well, one might argue, maybe wait to do that, and to make a Sales Page until you do that. But something you can think about is like, what would be an absolute dream engagement for you?

Maybe if you enjoy working with Legacy Code, you think like, I would love it, if a customer would just pay me to come in and put a bunch of unit tests around old code, that’s my dream engagement. Maybe you throw up a Sales Page that just advertises that service and you start to kind of what would you work on a pain in a dream and a fix to make that a nice Sales Page, throw that up there, and have it up there. 

It’s not like frankly, if you’re a generalist, like web developers, something, probably you’re not getting a lot of traffic to your Sales Page or any page as it is. But if you just put up a landing page, nobody’s going to go there unless you show it to them. So by doing this exercise, and creating this thing that you might want to offer, there’s really no downside, it’s not going to threaten your business in any way or turn off, non-Legacy Rescue customers. 

But it might be a good way to float a trial balloon and see if you show this to some people, what do they say, and that could point back into the market research, if people are like, “I don’t need this.” Well, you’ve learned something, or if people are like, “Hey, I would really enjoy this. But I want you not just to do the unit test, but also to like restructure the code.” Now you’re having some valuable conversations.

So it occurs to me that you could almost do this, like, I don’t know, lean startup. Let me learn a little bit about a potential offering by just putting together a Sales Page. I say that I’ve never ever done anything like that, I just feel like it could work.

Kai: I followed something similar to that where if we accept the premise of it’s going to be an iterative experience, starting lean, starting scrappy, starting with like, this is the idea this might be smaller or shorter than I’m thinking it needs to be. But it gets you something up there. It gives you an artifact you could have in conversations, or you notify friends or past clients, “Hey, this is my new Legacy Code Base offering. I’m not pitching you on this. But I’m curious what questions come up? Or hat does this not include that you would like to see?”

It gives you a starting point for these conversations. The data that comes out of those conversations might not be ideal, it might not be as great as the data you get in three months or six months when you do this more actively, but at least is that starting point where you could say this is the first brushstroke on the paper. Okay, now what’s coming through? Instead of thinking, I got this blank page, I need the Sales Page, what am I going to offer? 

I love your suggestion, Erik of taking a previous offering you’ve sold or a sketch of your ideal offering, or one aspect of an ideal offering, just to get that initial Sales Page up. It lets you better think through what am I offering here? What’s the price for this? What’s the process look like? Let’s you then move forward to past client outreach, market research conversations with people in your industry. Instead of saying like, “Oh, let me generally describe this. Here’s a short Sales Page, read through this while we’re on the call. Now, I want to ask you for questions about it just to learn more about how this resonates or doesn’t resonate for you.”

It’s an excellent starting point, just since it starts to give you almost a productized offer, it starts to give you a more defined service offering than I will code for money. It just gives you a nice jumping-off point for any of these conversations or you get to the end of writing and you’re like “Oh my gosh, this is a decent Sales Page. I no way want to sell nor deliver this.”

Wonderful you learn something that’s not the offer you want to be selling. So go on to the next option.  The one thing I want to just emphasize even further here is, it is iterative, it is squishy. The first Sales Page you write will not really be active 10 years from there. But the insights you glean from writing it, from promoting it, from getting feedback from people will be influencing everything you do, everything you launch everything you promote, for the coming months and years. So better to start small and scrappy than wait for the perfect one just to magically manifest.

Erik: Something that that just occurs to me, that’s like an upside of Sales Page that maybe if you’ve never had one or had an effective one, and you’ve by extension never had a sales process that defines what it is to work with you, what exactly you offer in a productized way, you the generalist out there haven’t lived in terms of how awesome sales calls can be. 

I know that sounds insane, where you think of like, if you go and you put yourself out there on Upwork, or something, the way that typically goes is that it’s almost like a job interview. So are we going to hire you to do application development? What are your credentials, what are your skills, etc?

It feels you’re recreating the job interview experience. If you do what we’re talking about here, and you go, and you create a well-defined Sales Page, which leads into a well-defined sales conversation where maybe you even put together a PowerPoint deck or something like that. What starts to happen is a sales consultant that we hired a while back, once described it, basically like somebody is going to put structure to the sales call, and if it isn’t you, it’s the client. 

He didn’t say this, but my take out is then you’re doing an interview. If you have a Sales Page that says, “This is what Legacy Rescue looks like, here’s the pain, here’s how I fix it.” You can start to build into that page. Then by extension, the automation that goes on between that and the call, and onboarding where you say, “All right, I come in, I do this five-point inspection of your codebase. Here are the things I’m looking for.”

That methodology that you start to develop around your offering, you start to get this confidence on your sales calls, where you’re going to disqualify bad fits and customers. But what will surprise you as you start to do all this is how the customers who used to be conducting an interview with you flip into a different mode where they regard you as the expert. 

It’s like, if you’re not an expert in anything, automotive, you bring in your car, and you say, “Hey, it’s making this noise. They say, “Alright, well, what we’re going to do is we’re going to put it up on the thing that elevates the cars, lift. We’re going to put it up on the lift, we’re going to do X, Y, and Z, we’re going to put this in, and then we’re going to give it back to you, and it’s going to be this amount.”

You don’t go in there and start saying, like, “So tell me about how many years of experience of muffler you have.” They’re telling you how it’s going to work. They’re the expert. You can be that expert when you’re defining something well enough to really articulate Pain, Dream, Fix, and when you have this specialized sales offering.

So, I wanted to throw that out just because this is idle stuff that we’re talking about, like in a weird meta way, I just did like a Pain, Dream, Fix on the advice we’re giving. But like seriously, it can have impressive effects that aren’t just like good for your business, but they’re like, good for your morale and for controlling the way that engagements go and helping sales be easier.

Reuven: For sure, I find that once I’ve put together a Sales Page, or once I put together Sales Pages for my courses. Now when I have conversations with potential clients, I just use that same language, and it really resonates with them. It might, I don’t have any way of proving this, but it might even be good for sales, then that if I’m speaking with the same language as the Sales Page itself, they’ll remember it better. That’s just total speculation, but I’d like to hope.

But that that writing process, it’s a process, right, you’re not going to expect to go sit down and have the world’s best Sales Page. As you improve it and iterate over it, you’re going to have a better model of what your customers want, how you’re going to fix it, and why they’re going to want to work with you. So when you get them on the phone, it’ll just come off super, supernaturally. 

I used to get very, very nervous talking to potential clients on the phone, and I just don’t anymore, regardless of what the company is, even they’re super big and super famous because I figure Okay, I’ve done this so many times before I know what they want. In some ways, don’t tell them this, I can just tune out some of the things that they’re saying and asking because it’s such a predictable conversation at this point already.

Kai: Now, I agree with both of you there. It puts constraints around the conversation. We’re going to talk about this, not that. What I found specifically to your point Erik is having that Sales Page up makes you more confident and when you’re more confident entering into these sales calls, subconsciously or consciously the prospect or lead will respond to that and give some of the not authority, but some of the control over the meeting over to you. 

So it’s not them interviewing you, “Hey, what skills do you have here?” It’s instead them saying, “Oh, you have a process, you have a methodology, you have a specialization? What questions could I answer for you, dear consultant, to better help you understand if you could help me.” So it definitely inverts the whole power dynamic, which  is a pretty awesome thing, just from a simple like, “Oh, I’ve got this 700-word Sales Page that talks about how, if you have this problem, I could help you, here’s where I could get you towards, here’s the outcome, and here’s what people have to say about it.” For something as small and simple as that it is a pretty impressive output or change in the business and in client relationships.

Erik: I do as a data point, these days, probably one to three sales calls a week. In terms of so, I have a PowerPoint that I go through. What I’ll do in the beginning is put a customized slide on there that speaks to the client situation, and then a series of discussion questions because I want them to talk about their situation first. Then I have a series of slides that are how Hit Subscribe works. 

What I can tell anyone listening out there when it comes to operationalizing all this, I will always in the beginning of a sales call, ask I have a PowerPoint prepared for this. Do you mind if I go through this? It’ll be maybe one in 25 or 30 that says, “No, I’d rather structure the discussion in a different way.” So like right out of the gate, they’re saying, “Sure, go ahead, walk me through the way that you do the sales call.”

Usually, once that happens, I don’t mean to make this out to be a power play to say like, “Oh, I’m in charge.” It’s that you’re structuring the conversation in a productive way. Because without that, if you’re just idly talking, imagine that you’re talking to somebody about how to do some application development or something, “We’ve got this website we want help with.”

Imagine how unstructured that call is, versus imagine, if you have something that you do over and over again, like, I come in, and I don’t know what a specific thing you might do is like, “I audit the endpoints of REST service for security purposes or something.” If you do that over and over again, then you are going to know a lot of stuff to walk them through, it’s more productive for you to structure that conversation and walk them through it, and they’ll be grateful for it. 

Going back to the Sales Page. As Reuven said, it’s the same language, the reinforcement, all of it adds throughout the whole experience to this idea that I’ve done this a lot before. I’m an expert in this,  I’ll help you with it. Like, “I can fix your problems for you.” It all creates a very powerful effect.

Kai: Should we move into picks? 

Reuven: Yes. 

Kai: So my pick this week, I’m going to go with an old favorite, I want to recommend the book The Brain Audit by Sean D’Souza, who we truly should have on the show one of these days. It’s an excellent book that I really think it’s like a copywriting and service offering book. The full title is The Brain Audit: Why Customers Buy (And Why They Don’t). 

It’s just an excellent exploration of the different factors that go into a customer deciding to work with you and the different elements that you want to have on your Sales Page. So it’s definitely an evergreen pick for me, and I’m going to recommend it again, and we’ll make sure to have it in show notes. How about you, Erik, any top of mind picks this week?

Erik: Yeah, so topically, I mean, just based on our conversation, one of the things I’m going to do is I’m going to dig this up, there’s this blog post I read and it has the perfect graphic about Pain, Dream, Fix. It shows a picture of little Mario, and then a flower, and then big Mario throwing fireballs, and it points at the flower and says, “This isn’t what you sell.” And it appoints at the fireball Mario and says this is with the idea that what you’re selling is an outcome for your customer, not a productized service with all of its features and details.”

If memory serves, it was a good blog post anyway, but that graphic I found so memorable for fixing Pain, Dream, Fix in my mind that, I think that’s worth a share. The other thing I’ll do is throw out a pick for HubSpot as a CRM. Now what I’ll say is if you’re getting to the point where you’re building a Sales Page that has some meaningful focus to tee up sales conversations, you should probably also have a CRM. HubSpot is the one that I’ve used for years. But whatever else you might find out there. So it’s a pick for CRMs. But my personal experiences that HubSpot is a good one and it’s free. So yeah, that’s my other pick.

Kai: Excellent, how about yourself, Reuven.

Reuven: I think I’ve mentioned before that my keyboard is this amazing mechanical, clunky, loud das keyboard thing, which I absolutely, absolutely love, and my family loves less. I have also got pushback on my courses that people say oh my God like because I do live coding both in my in-person courses and my video recorded courses.

I have tried cushioning the noise from my keyboard and they just hear it more than they’d like. So about a week ago, I discovered, it was on Slack channel this thing called krisp, K-R-I-S-P  krisp.ai. It sounded too good to be true that basically, it’s a machine learning-based noise filter that gets rid of background noise.

Some listeners will know or remember I have my neighbor who plays piano all the time. I have three kids and they’re in the kitchen and this and that. I’ve been using it for a week now. Stunning, stunning results. The keyboard clacking gone, the piano gone. I knock on my table, mostly gone. Yesterday, two days ago, I plunked down the money to get a year-long subscription. It’s like $40 thoroughly, thoroughly worthwhile. 

I don’t know what they’re doing. But on their webpage, they say that five out of their first six employees were all PhDs in math and computer science. So there’s some very serious AI going on there and fully for them. It’s really pretty impressive.

Kai: That brings us to the end of today’s episode. Thanks for joining us. We hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to subscribe to the Business of Freelancing in your podcast app of choice. You could just search for business freelancing and will turn up in any of the major podcast players. 

If you have any questions for us or our panel, or we’d like to suggest a topic. Go ahead and visit us at businessoffreelancing.com and share your question there. We’ll be back next week with another episode of the Business of Freelancing podcast.