🐧 Sales 101 for Side Hustlers (Part 1)

INSIDE: Anatomy of the Sale, Qualification 101, Discovery Calls 101
March 31, 2024

If you’re starting a side hustle, you can’t avoid sales.

Today, in 10 minutes or less, you'll learn:

  • Sales Principles
  • Anatomy of the Sale
  • Lead Qualification 101
  • Discovery Calls 101


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🤝 Sales 101 for Side Hustlers

As a builder, I hated selling.

When I started my career coaching service, I felt awkward and imposter syndrome getting on my first discovery calls.

After 20+ calls, I started feeling more comfortable.

After 50+ calls, I gained more confidence to sell 4-figure coaching packages. (and later, 5-figure consulting deals).

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

Side hustles are on the rise as a vehicle to pursue interests, diversify income, and gain more financial independence. Yet, the path to go from zero to launch is fraught with challenges.

To help side hustlers, I wrote these actionable newsletters:

This next edition will focus on another crucial topic:


We’ll talk about this in context of service-based side hustles, e.g. coaching and consulting.

In this newsletter, I will deep dive into how to go from lead to sale in your service-based side hustle—including qualifying leads, leading discovery calls, and handling common objections.

Sales Principles

Before we jump into tactics, let’s go over a few key principles:

  • People do business with people they know, like, and trust. If you break down any successful sale, these actions are at the heart of it.
  • Sales happens at EVERY client touchpoint. This took me a while to learn, but after hearing from clients that they were ready to buy after reading my reviews and content, now I’m a big believer. Each interaction with your client is an opportunity to help your clients know, like, and trust you.
  • Build trust before asking for the purchase. Most people make the mistake of thinking sales as just calls. This misses an entire bucket of opportunities you have to resonate with clients, respond to their concerns, and build trust before jumping on a call.

Alright, now let’s break down the components of your sales.

Anatomy of the Sale

Here’s three parts of your sale:

  • Lead Qualification. Before getting on any call, qualify. Qualification helps you identify which clients are most likely to buy your offer.
  • Discovery Calls. The goal here is to deepen trust, show the path forward for clients, and yes—prompt them to pull the trigger on your offer.
  • Objection Handling. Did you think you’d avoid conflict? If you want to close sales, prepare yourself to address the most common objections and concerns along the way.

Each of these components goes deep. Like really deep. So to prevent this newsletter from turning into a totem, I’ll focus on just the essentials.

Lead Qualification 101

Previously, we showed you how to build a content engine to generate leads. Now what happens when your potential clients arrive from your growth channels to your website?

Why Qualification?

A mistake that many side hustlers make is they start pushing people to sign up for a discovery call with them immediately.

As a result, they’re overwhelmed with calls. But conversion is low. Most potential clients seem to be “window shopping” instead of having earnest intent to try your service.

That’s why it’s important to assess your clients’ fit with your services BEFORE the discovery call.

The goal of qualification is to identify which clients are most likely to buy your offer (or which offer is the right fit). This helps you prioritize your limited time and energy on the right clients.

How to Use BANT to Qualify

Now let’s talk about execution. BANT is a qualification framework used by many sales professionals. It works for our side hustles too.

BANT stands for:

  • Budget: How much is your potential client willing and able to spend?
  • Authority: Who makes the ultimate decision?
  • Need: Does the potential client have a burning need for your service?
  • Timeline: How much time does your potential client need to make a purchasing decision?

You can apply BANT to all client touchpoints from your copywriting to your discovery call booking forms.

  • For example, if you are writing articles, then share stories about the deep pains that your previous clients came to you with and how you worked together to help them overcome their obstacles. This is an implicit form of Need Qualification.
  • If you have a discovery call booking form, then you can ask upfront if your potential client is willing to invest $X to achieve Y outcomes in your program. This is a form of Budget Qualification.

Try incorporating BANT into your growth engine, then reply to this email with how it goes. I’d be curious to hear how you use it!

Discovery Calls 101

After qualifying your leads, you jump on the call with your potential client. Now what?

The goal of this call is to help you deepen trust, show the path forward for clients, and yes—prompt them to pull the trigger on your offer.

Here’s a few high-level guidelines:

  • Keep it short. When you’re just starting out, keep these to 15 minutes or 30 minutes max. This forces you to be succinct and not talk too much. You don’t want these calls to drag on.
  • Book a lot of calls. If you’re not getting more calls than your schedule allows, then this should be your first priority.
  • Postmortem every call. How I got better quickly doing discovery calls is because I constantly scored each of my calls out of 10 and identified at least 1 improvement area to focus on for my next call. Create an iterative feedback loop.

Phase 1: Understand why your clients are looking for help

When I start the call, I like to introduce myself, share the goal for the call, and then ask, “What made you decide to reach out for a call?”

Then I listen and try to understand their motivations.

Coaching in particular is often a vulnerable experience. It’s critical to know if they’re looking for this—and just as importantly, if they’re a fit for you. Will you enjoy working them along the journey?

Afterward, I like to ask:

“Why are you interested in making a change?”

I prompt them to share what they’ve already tried, what worked and didn’t work. I also try to get a pulse on if they’re willing to put in the work.

For example, some people expect the coach to do the work for them, instead of doing the work with the coach.

I try to avoid clients like this because they’re a recipe for frustration on both sides. You can identify this type of client because they haven’t tried anything and don’t sound particularly excited about making an effort.

Phase 2: Uncover (hidden) expectations and outcomes

In my experience, what people say they want isn’t always what they actually want.

It’s important to pinpoint what they REALLY want:

  • If they want a promotion at work, is it to look good to their boss and teammates? Is it to get the raise, so they can save up for a down payment?
  • If they want a new job, is it because they’re motivated by a new title or prestige? Or is it because they’re bored in their current job and want to a new challenge?

Your goal in this phase is to identify the outcomes that your potential client truly wants to achieve. Then assess if it’s something you honestly can help them achieve.

“I’ve never worked in product (or with a product team), but I want to become a product leader, so I can double my salary and manage a big team.”

I know I can’t help this person achieve that goal, and it’d be a waste of their time and mine to continue. So I politely decline.

Phase 3: Talk about your offer

After I confirm that I have a clear picture of what they’re looking for, I map my offer benefits to their specific outcomes and challenges they face to achieve their outcomes.

Distilled down:

Outcome → Challenge → Offer Benefits

For example:

“You said you wanted to gain confidence in making a career transition from PM to Senior PM, but you struggled with product discovery interviews.

To help you overcome these interviews, we’ll give you case interview frameworks, then practice mock interviews to help you feel more effective and confident walking into your next set of case product discovery interviews.

That will help you increase your chances of getting your desired offer.”

After we’ve walked through each of their outcomes and how the offer helps fulfill them, THEN I ask if they’re comfortable talking about the investment.

That’s when I’ll share the program, benefits, timing, and investment. Remember the goal here is to show how the benefits greatly outweigh the investment.

Then, I wrap up the call by asking, “how does this sound? do you want to move forward?”

If they say yes, then I move forward to asking for payment via credit card on the call or immediately afterward.

To be continued

Congrats on reading until the end!

Next week we’ll cover Objection Handling 101 in Part 2 of this newsletter.

🌐 Beyond your borders

💳️ Visa and Mastercard agree $30bn settlement over US transaction fees (link)

🇸🇬 These ex-Grab, Peak XV execs want to help founders find ‘fractional’ CMOs (link)

📈 r/FluentInFinance: How do we know stock index average growth rate will be 7-8% far into the future? (link)

📸 I tried selling digital products for 90 days (link)

🚀 Most startup newsletters talk about the wins. But The Runway Ventures does the opposite. Every Sunday, the newsletter shares an analysis of 1 failed startup, 2 costly mistakes made, and 3 lessons for founders. Subscribe for free here → (link)*

*this is a sponsored link

📆 How I can help

That’s all for today!

Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help you:

1. Join my Side Hustle Crash Course (free) - Click here to receive my free, 5-day email course teaching you how to build a profitable side hustle.

2. Join my Remote Side Hustle 4-Week Cohort - Save your seat for my May 6th cohort and get 20% off (sold out last cohort).

3. Work with my tax team - Get personalized guidance from a US expat tax professional.

4. Sponsor this newsletter - Get in front of over 5,000 professionals and business owners in the US and Singapore.

For daily insights, follow me on Linkedin or X (@dexteryz).

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Dexter Zhuang

Dexter is the founder of Money Abroad, a website and newsletter on building wealth for global professionals. Over the last 10 years, he's been a product leader, product manager, consultant and coach at companies like Dropbox, Xendit, and growth-stage startups across the US, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. His work has been featured in global publications like Business Insider, CBS, US News & World Report, and Tech in Asia. He graduated from Dartmouth College.

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