Closing the deal
One of the most difficult things to do when selling anything is educating the client. Disclaimer: I am not a sales expert, let’s get that straight now. I am however experienced at seeing the process happen. And that’s one of the only things I can claim – my experience. My experience has shown that most of the deals that have gone sour or disintegrated have been due to a client (or potential client) not understanding the reason behind what we’re doing.
Referring back to my recent post “Does your website work for you?” the single most difficult thing about that client was – trying to help him understand all the benefits of a website. It can be very difficult to do, especially with those that don’t embrace new technology. This can be intensely frustrating for a person that has seen those benefits first-hand.
Here are a list of a few things that help me to educate the client while selling a site:
1. Preparation – Before you even say a word make sure you are prepared walking into that meeting. Knowing the client’s business, industry, competition, and current situation can be invaluable. Because tayloring your pitch to fit their needs is key.
2. Be Creative – I don’t mean creative as in creative design, I mean show the potential client what a website can do in creative ways. Come up with interesting angles on how the website can benefit the business. For example, I was having a tough time closing the deal with a business owner until I mentioned how the database and website could help track and streamline a portion of his business. He had no clue a website could do that. He also wasn’t interested in w3c compliant code or top notch design, he was interested in the utility. Needless to say I closed the deal in short order. Now, not every business owner will be clueless to the benefits of a website. You have to be creative in the the way you present it. What’s your angle?
3. Attitude – I can’t tell you how many times this has been a detriment to me. You must be confident. Confidence can be sensed, but so can overconfidence. Be in the frame of mind that will allow you to speak with authority, but not above others.
4. Likability – This goes hand in hand with attitude. People are much more likely to work with or hire you when you are likable. Think of these characteristics: humble, honest, grateful, acknowledge and validate others, smile, and good listener. These things can go a long way when working with clients.
5. Respect – Sure, you wouldn’t tell a doctor how to operate on you, but the doctor doesn’t tell you what an idiot you are for needing the operation either. Yes, you are the authority on matters of the web, but that doesn’t mean you can’t listen earnestly to what the client has to say. Treat them with respect and more often than not that respect is reciprocated.
6. Listen – The client will usually tell you how to sell them if you let them speak. All too often we blab on and on about something and the client becomes disinterested. Don’t fall into that trap, allow them to speak and even give suggestions. Most clients just want to feel involved with the web design/development process.
7. Et tu brute? – Don’t get offended! It’s too petty. You may want to go in there and wow the client with your designs and abilities, but many times clients only care about cost/benefit issues. They may not want to hear what standards is or why this code is so efficient and that code is not. Don’t get offended if they don’t want to hear how good you are or don’t compliment your portfolio.
8. You not I – Talk about them, their business and their favorite things. Just let them know you’re genuinely interested in their business. You need to know what interests them and what motivates them. This also helps to establish trust and that likability factor we already talked about.
9. Unique Selling Point – Everybody wants to feel special, so, help them feel that way. If you can present a unique selling point, one that sets you apart from others, you’ll be much better off. Don’t over do it. Some people get turned off when they think you’re blowing smoke. With that said, find a unique selling point.
10. Bottom Line – It’s always about the bottom line for a business owner. Who cares about the cool design you did, who cares about that script you wrote. If it doesn’t make money, 9 times out of 10 it’s useless to them. You need to go knowing and understanding so you can explain the benefits for the service you offer. How will the website increase their bottom line.
Like I said, I’m not a sales genius by any stretch of the imagination, but these things have helped me to form good rapport with my potential clients. Good luck selling!