Reuben Swartz is the founder of Mimiran (pronounced “MEHMehran”, or like “mimosa”), the CRM for people who love serving clients but hate “selling”– it’s the tool he wishes he’d had when he was consulting and was frustrated trying to sell with traditional CRMs. He’s also the host of the Sales for Nerds podcast. He has a computer science degree, and the transition to having to handle sales and marketing was really, really hard (but it didn’t have to be).
-How can a freelancer close a prospect without having to feel like they’re selling?
-What are your favorite methods of prospecting as a freelancer?
-I often talk about making it as easy as possible for your clients to sign with you. I see Mimiran offers esignatures, what else do you recommend to make signing with a freelancer as easy as possible?
-Tell me about why you created Mimiran?
Get ready for freelancing strategies, hacks and tactics to help you skyrocket your success. Brought to you by Freelancer masterclass calm. You’re listening to freelancing school with your instructor, Mike Volkin. Everyone. Thank you for joining me. This is Mike
Volkin. Today we’re joined with Ruben sports, the founder of Nimrod. Did I pronounce that right?
Yes. Remember it,
memorized the CRM for people who love certain clients, but hate selling. We’ll talk a little bit about that actually. It’s the tool he wishes he had when he was consulting and was frustrated trying to sell a traditional CRM. He’s also the host of sales for nerds podcast. I love that podcast. He has computer science degree and is transitioning to have handles the sales and marketing was, I’m sorry, let me say that again. He is in the transition to having to handle sales and marketing was really hard, but it didn’t have to be that way. So he realized that and I want to talk to him a little bit. What about Freelancer and sales? Because not all freelancers are salesmen. Welcome to the show, by the way. Thanks for having me, Mike. I’m love your podcast. I am a frequent listener. And I have to mention that off the bat
is it updated the podcast so there are certain days
you know, it’s supposed to be I started doing it twice a month I could not keep up with that. So I started doing monthly and this month I’m late because my editor is on vacation and so I’m feeling bad because there isn’t an episode released in August but there really should be usually like the last Thursday of the month. Okay. The podcast
is called sales for nerds. Now when I get to the gym, I go to gym every day and I have my my podcast I listened to instead of like, you know singsong saying something so I listen to podcasts, and always check like when when your podcast is updated, but I try to get a pattern and I can’t quite figure that out. So now that I know, I know there’s not a pattern. So
the world there’s supposed to be a pattern and I’m totally screwing it up which is really not good.
Okay, but Anyway, I encourage all our followers, so listen to sales for nerds podcast, let’s start off talking about how a freelancer can close a prospect without having to feel like they’re selling. This is a big sticking point, because as you know, freelancers are writers, they’re marketers, they’re not all sellers. And when they get on a phone with a prospect, or even in person, they have to feel like they’re selling and they just don’t like that. So can you tell us how a freelancer can can sell without selling?
Sure. And this is something that I struggled with for years because I knew I had to quote unquote, sell and I hated it. And I think something that helped me figure out this different way to frame it is we all like to buy things, but we hate being sold. There’s a lot of sales experiences that we’ve probably had that didn’t feel like a sales experience. They felt like someone awesome was helping us solve a problem that we had. And then there’s a bunch of crappy sales experiences we had where somebody was trying to sell us and was really about making themselves the hero instead of us. And so for me, the big switch was I’m not actually going to try to sell somebody, I’m going to try to help them. Because as a consultant, that’s what I do. That’s what I enjoy doing. That’s what I’m good at. That’s what feels natural to me. If I’m trying to sell them, I’ve tried I bought all these sales books, and I tried to follow all these, quote unquote best practices. Yeah, they were really more for like, you know, you’re the new Junior sales rep at IBM kind of thing. Not. I’m just somebody trying to help a client. But I think if you can position it as I’m just here to help you, what do you need to do? Let me really try to understand your problem, what you’re trying to do, so that I can get you the solution you need. And it might involve me, it might involve me sending you to someone else. It might involve me telling you Hey, you know what, you actually have bigger fish to fry right now. Don’t even worry about this.
Right? It’s not the right time. Yeah. One of the things I like to do to prevent the feeling that I’m selling is I like to prepare in advance a list of questions because if I’m the one dominating a conversation, and I’m the one asking questions, I’m the one That is dictating the answers and how the questions are going to go not them. And you know, prospects are all going to have similar questions like, tell me about yourself, and why are you the best fit for this job, you know, then you’re going to feel like you’re selling, as opposed to if you’re asking the questions and you’re able to put in your answers to how you would be a best fit for the job that allows you to kind of set the tone, you know, so that’s one of my tips. along the lines of selling, what are your favorite methods for prospecting? as a freelancer getting those prospects on the phone or in person? Do you have favorite marketing methods that you like to use?
Absolutely. And this is something that again, I struggled with tremendously and unnecessarily but taking that same philosophy of I’m not here to sell. I’m not here to prospect I’m here to help. I think the biggest thing that people miss is that there’s a set of people that they already know, your friends, your colleagues, folks you’ve worked on with past projects, people in your community and you don’t necessarily have to pick up the phone and try to sell them. But just stay in contact with them, make sure they know what you’re doing. And try to help them make connections for them be a helpful part of the community. And it’s not. It’s not entirely predictable. Like I’m going to make this many phone calls. And a week later, I’m going to have so many projects, but over time you build up that karmic capital, that social capital, and people are going to be referring business to you. They’re going to pick up the phone and call you when they have a problem that that is up your alley. So make sure you’re doing that. And also, one thing that was surprising for me as an introvert is my life’s actually better because I’m actually spending more time having conversations with people. So that’s, that’s step number one, right? If the people that you know don’t even know what you’re doing, make sure they know and do it with a phone call. Don’t just send them an email. Secondly, I think sort of along the lines of the transition from selling to helping, I sort of made a transition from marketing to teaching. So marketing and selling its kind Like all about us, and we’re awesome. Helping and teaching is really about the other person. So if you’re a freelance writer, offer tips on how to write better if you’re a freelance developer, offer tips on, you know how to test your iOS app or whatever it is that you really focus on, almost like you’re putting yourself out of a job. That seems a little counterintuitive. But you’re basically helping the people that you are most eager to help who are going to see the most value in your help, and positioning yourself as an expert to them. So offer something on your website offer offer articles content, and then have a lead magnet that will convert somebody from a visitor to a lead if they are interested in going deeper into whatever your area of expertise is. But the whole philosophy here is I’m here to help you. I’m here to teach you not that I’m doing a ton of prospecting and marketing, at least for me, and for I think, a set of us who just don’t feel comfortable with that kind of aggressive sales and marketing approach.
Yeah, you know, most financial Don’t do content content is king so it also in addition to all the great stuff you just mentioned, it also puts you in a in a better position automatically than anyone else they’re interviewing absolute automatically seen as the expert and can solve their problems. I often talking about making it as easy as possible for your clients assignment here. I noticed member on has office e signatures which I love. What else do you recommend to make signing with a freelancer or make signing with a prospect as easy as possible, other than just a signature? Is there any other any other tactics that you’ve used to kind of ease a prospect into signing and becoming a client?
Sure. And full disclosure, my app started out as proposal automation, because that was the part that was driving me nuts as a consultant. Everyone would say, Oh, yeah, we’re ready to get started and then things would kind of disappear and it just kind of drove me crazy. So in addition to automating the process, I think the real key is our Are you capturing the right stuff in the proposal? Because sometimes you go and you have these great conversations and they say, Great, send me a proposal. And then if you send them something that doesn’t reflect the conversation, it’s just basically a marketing brochure. And that’s when you you kind of get the client going dead or saying, gosh, I don’t really understand this, I’m going to go with someone else. So I say a proposal is a story, not a brochure. And the hero of the story is the buyer, not the seller. So we want to be able to basically recapitulate the conversations we had maybe the whiteboard diagrams, we drew together, the solution that we collaborated to create in a really easy to understand story that shows the customer having their problem, how you help them overcome it and the awesome results they get. And it shouldn’t be a surprise, it should be almost entirely focused on them. I like to show a little slide with, you know, Luke, and our two and threepio. Meeting Obi Wan, and it’s like, well, who’s the hero of the story. And when I started out, probably because I picked up a bunch of bad habits like a lot of us do. I thought I was the hero of the story. I thought I was Luke Skywalker like going to save the galaxy. But really, where the old man helping the hero of the story, our guidance is crucial for them getting where they need to go. But we are not the actual hero. So they should be able to pick this up, read it, nod their head, yep, yep, yep. And I’ve done this, right, just sat in the room and just sat there silently while I read through the proposal. And you will kind of want to get that nodding, feeling and even the terms and conditions, right, you want to have your lawyer make sure that you’re protected, but it should be human readable in so they can just go through spend five minutes, 10 minutes reading the proposal. So yep, that’s what we need to do and sign it and be done. Let’s make it easy.
So you’re actually on the phone or in the room while the prospect is reading through the proposal.
Ideally, yes, that is not always possible. But even though I’m all about electronic proposals, I want to be sitting in the room with someone if possible. Right, you just have a richer interaction, then if you’re on the phone, or especially if they’re just reading it and you’re not around.
Absolutely, I actually recommend that in my master class, we talked about that. I’ve actually tested that before I’ve done 10 proposals where I just emailed it off. And I’ve done 10 proposals where I, the first time I’ve seen is when they’re on the phone with me on the zoom, zoom, call, zoom, calm. And the conversion was about 30, a little bit more than 30% higher if I was on the call with them. Awesome. It’s great if you have on the call. And I started thinking why that was, well, you can, when they’re reading a proposal, by nature, people are defensive, right? So they want to have objections to what you’re saying you don’t have a reason not to hire you. When they are, no matter how much they like you. That’s just by nature what they want. So when you’re on the phone with them, you’re talking them through anything that doesn’t make sense. You’re overcoming any objections right away. And by the end of the call, it’s super personable, and and it’s and they understand everything completely. So when you’re ready to go by that time, so you remember, it sounds awesome. You tell me a little bit more about it. an attraction you’ve gotten and how long you guys been around.
Yeah, sure. And what it’s funny, you know, you talk about this, when you’re talking to somebody about a proposal and they’re in the room together. The thing I like about the combination of electronic proposals and in person or over the phone live discussion is the proposal is sometimes there is a question and you’re like, Oh, you know, I didn’t make that as clear as I should have. What do you think that should say, okay, make sure it says by next Thursday, or whatever it is, and then you just make the change right there and they have it so you don’t have to waste time going through another iteration.
Exactly. Makes your template that much better, too, because you see what people skip over and what they what they focus on and all that stuff. So Exactly.
You know, I actually started member in as a consultancy, as a freelance consultancy and then I ended up hiring people and did that the whole thing and, and eventually, I needed to just stop traveling. And so I tried to do it without traveling, which wasn’t necessary. I mean, it was, you know, there were some some good parts to that, definitely. But there’s also certain things that I couldn’t just take on. If I wasn’t willing to get on a plane a bunch here, so I ended up developing software because I thought, you know, I like to think that I’ve learned a lot of lessons along this path, how can I encapsulate those in a tool so that I can help other people without necessarily selling? And sorry, without without getting on a plane and traveling? Yeah. One of the things I noticed I tended to work with fortune 500 type companies. But in between, if I could, I would work with much smaller businesses more like my own business. And I actually thought that was a lot more fun. It didn’t pay as much money, but it was you could make a change, and people would act on it instead of, you know, with a big company, half the stuff that you recommend is still sitting in a PowerPoint gathering dust a year later. So true. And that’s just the nature of it. Right? There’s not one that’s right or wrong, but I really like that feeling like I was going to have an immediate impact on a business owner. And so the proposal automation piece came out of the desire to know really, when is someone reading my proposal, right? Because it’s one thing if we go And we discuss it. But then especially with these bigger clients, it was always like, okay, now we have to go discuss with our team and blah, blah, blah, blah. And we’d have some follow up meeting scheduled and that would get rescheduled. And before you know it, it was like, I’m, like that dorky guy saying, hey, just wondering if you got my proposal you have any questions and, and wondering if, if it’s helping or hurting for me to leave another voicemail bothering them or
And like, I should at least be able to know if they’re reading it, because especially when I had people on payrolls, like, do I need to keep them billing over here? Because this isn’t going to close for a month anyway? Or do they need to actually be in New York on Monday, because that’s what the client originally said they wanted and it was just like, it all kind of came back to I can’t magically make someone sign but at least if I knew if they were reading my proposal, I’d have some notion of where we are in the process. And I might be able to pick up the phone and have a conversation. So it’s all about timing. Yeah, yeah. That’s how it started. And then some of my early customers started saying okay, this is great. proposals are now not the bottleneck in my in my business, what can you do to get me more leads, and I never intended to build any functionality for that I thought I would refer them to some plugins for WordPress or some other technologies. And I realized that even though there’s tons of tools out there for lead generation, they’re either aimed at ecommerce businesses, or they’re aimed at larger companies that have a big sales team. They’re not really aimed at freelancers or consultants, where the people doing all the work are also doing the sales and marketing. And so they’re not as effective as they could be because they’re expecting someone to be on the phone eight hours a day, or they’re expecting that everything can be done with drip automation. And so I wanted a way to get folks like consultants and freelancers or lawyers, people who are really spending their time with clients, not just get them a lead, but get them conversations because they need that to actually turn somebody into a client. So there’s some stuff that never and does a little differently than traditional CRM to get you from Web visitor to a lead to a conversation. And then automating some of the stuff we talked about earlier, like, well, how often do you stay in touch with people? I had a lot of trouble with that. And I was talking to my customers, all small business owners, we were all struggling with customers, you’re so busy day to day trying to do our work, close our deals, and then hopefully have a little bit of a life in our quote unquote, spare time. It’s very hard to make that extra time just to keep those relationships alive. How do we actually build that into our schedule in a way that doesn’t overwhelm us? And so I got frustrated with I was at the time integrating memory and with with a more traditional CRM, and I was like, this is just too hard. I don’t, I can’t. There’s too much cognitive stress. Why don’t I just make it easy to do this stuff that’s actually really important for my business in my life. And so that kind of squared the circle on calling it a CRM, and it really is a CRM for people who hate selling, right? It’s like yeah, I don’t Want to go sell someone but I want to go help people.
I immediately identified with it when I saw it. It sounds like you’re addressing one of the weak points that freelancers have for bringing in clients. And it’s such a great idea. I wish you the best best of success as you continue on with that. Can you tell me a little bit about where our audience can find them are on and and where they can follow you online?
Sure, you can find memory in at EMI EMI ra n.com. You can find me at Rubin at memory. com or you can also check out sales for nerds.io or find me on Twitter or LinkedIn. And yeah, thanks so much for having me. I hope this is helpful. I think the big thing for me is so many of the struggles I had with sales and marketing as a freelancer were my own mental barriers that I had erected for myself. They were not actually things that should have held me back and my mission now kind of like yours is Mike is to help folks who are in that position realized that they don’t have to be held back by these barriers.
Yeah, you’re not the only one that was struggling. That Teachers struggle with those problems and you’re creating a solution for I love it. Thanks so much for joining me the answers you gave were very compelling. Very nice, Mike.
Thanks so much. Take care. Thank you for joining us for freelancing school. Be sure to subscribe and get the latest updates on the show. Go to freelancing Master class.com to become a master freelancer.
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