Written by Jamie Griffiths on 17 August 2012
“You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” was a favourite saying of my old nan. She never used it in reference to selling web design services but in this post I’m going to attempt to convince you that it’s a highly appropriate phrase to keep in mind when approaching web design prospects.
Websites are now such a crucial element of marketing, customer engagement, lead generation and sales that savvy web design buyers are getting ever more cautious about who they hire. Despite tough economic times, addressing customer concerns over quality, delivery and support will win you more of those important contracts than just trying to outdo your competitors on price. (Though of course if you can afford to offer a low price too then so much the better.)
Buying a website involves placing a huge amount of trust with an individual or company. A buyer not only has to hand over a key aspect of their brand for creative interpretation but they probably also need the site completed within a set timeframe. For start up businesses especially, late delivery of a website or problems with setup can lead to lost revenue which in turn creates cash-flow problems that seriously jeopardise the company’s chance of making it through that crucial first year.
It’s understandable then that the focus of a web design buyer often falls not on price (after all, it’s usually possible to find plenty of quotes that fall within any given range) but on how well a potential design company can address the above concerns and demonstrate an understanding of the client’s business needs.
Before I go any further I should clarify what I mean when I say a lead. I’m talking about a company that has expressed a need to buy website design or development services in the very near future (e.g. by requesting a quote). It doesn’t matter how the lead came to you – whether as a result of direct contact or via a third party lead generation service – as long as they’re at the end stages of the buying cycle. While the guiding principle of this post might be relevant, the following advice isn’t intended for use in cold calling or long term lead nurturing.
So, returning to our theme, what concrete steps can you potentially take to prove to your prospect customers that their website is safe in your hands? Here are a few suggestions:
Laggards seldom prosper when it comes to sales. Speed of response to an enquiry is probably the most important aspect of making a good impression on the customer. Put yourself in their shoes: you request a quote via a web-form and the company doesn’t come back to you for 24 hours, perhaps even longer. If that’s how long it takes them to respond when a sale is on the line how are they going to deal with your enquiries once you’re actually a customer?
You might have spent those 24 hours coming up with a detailed, comprehensive, great looking proposal but the customer doesn’t know that. In the meantime they’ve been buttered up by several other web designers who were quicker on the draw. And besides, how do you know you were on the right track with that quote if you hadn’t even spoken to the client? Get in early and start building that relationship as soon as the lead comes in. Every second is crucial here.
Don’t come on too strong
Even the smallest website design job consists of an outlay of several hundred pounds. No one parts with that kind of cash on a whim so don’t expect to close the deal on the initial call. Instead the objective should be to provide as much reassurance to the customer as possible that their search is over and that they’ve found the web designer who will make this project as stress free and painless as possible.
The best way of achieving this is to listen. Don’t rattle on about how great you are, how much experience you have, the huge brands you’ve worked with etc. If the company has come to you as a lead the chances are they’ve investigated that much already. Instead, ask as many relevant questions about the project as possible and listen carefully to the answers. Intelligent questioning and an attentive demeanour will work wonders to build trust with the customer. Immediately afterwards send an email to the prospect which sums up the key points raised in the call and either present them with a quote or let them know when you’ll have a quote ready for them. I can’t stress enough what a great impression this will make on the client.
Be as up front and transparent as possible
With such a big decision to make the buyer is bound to be a little jittery. Wherever something isn’t mentioned or left vague they will fill in the blanks for themselves and, often, draw negative conclusions. Where a figure isn’t made concrete they’ll assume that it will go up. Where a service or extra isn’t mentioned in the breakdown they’ll assume hidden charges.
Make your quote as comprehensive and detailed as possible – yes it’s extra work but it will count. (Besides, once you’ve come up with a good template you can use it as a basis for future quotes and save a good deal of time.) Send it to the customer, give them a little time to look over it and then call them to walk them through it. This way you’re on the spot to address any concerns as they come up and fill in any gaps in the customer’s understanding. Look for those sticking points, draw them out and address them. Only when you feel that the customer has no reservations left is it time to move in to close the sale.
Some of the above may seem obvious but you’d be amazed how many people get it wrong –especially when it comes to speed of response. Perhaps in an industry where skill and ingenuity are seen as the foremost qualities, the basics of lead handling sometimes get overlooked.
So, if you aren’t doing so already, start spreading a little honey (by focusing on your customer’s needs and concerns) and let that new business start rolling in.
Author Bio: Jamie Griffiths is an inbound marketing specialist.
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