For resellers or digital
marketing or developmental services, a local client base is almost always both
the easiest to cultivate and the most lucrative. With a local client base you
bypass many of the challenges presented by selling remote clients. While it is
true you forgo the profits of a large salesforce, you also forgo the need to
recruit, train and manage a remote salesforce - so its not all downside there
A local client base is great because those who prefer to buy web sites or associated services locally are also the least likely to either shop or price compare when making the decision of who to buy from. These are the clients that will work with you purely because you are local to them and showed up, called in, or were found locally - the best ways to start a relationship.
It is also much harder for local prospects to cause development difficulties, hide when it comes time to pay or present other general nuisance client issues - they are local, you know where they do business, you are just as likely to cause their reputation damage as they are to damage yours, a little mutually assured destruction (MAD) never hurt in the world of business.
The question naturally arises as to how to find local prospects. The truth is, marketing yourself locally may be much, much easier than you think. Let’s analyze resources at the disposal of almost everyone locally:
1. Local chamber of commerce
3. Local homeshows and tradeshows
4. Local businesses
This is, of course, not a complete list of resources, an exhaustive list of specific venues open to you would be impossible to assemble here, so try not to think of these as the ONLY resources for local marketing that you have at your disposal.
Starting from last to first, what is it that we mean when we list ‘local businesses’ as a resource for marketing. Local businesses already have existing client bases and reputations within your community, they are perhaps the absolute best resource for reaching other local businesses that you can possibly have for this reason alone.
It is easy to select a handful of local businesses that likely have businesses as clients and to proposition them with something few of them will easily refuse - money.
You simply proposition a handful of businesses with an affiliate style business relationship that would read something like this: “I am opening a new digital marketing company and I am looking for new clients, I know you serve businesses and many of your clients are potential clients for me, we’re in entirely non-competing industries, but with your help I think we could both make a good chunk of change. What I propose is simple - email an introduction and promo of my company to your clients and I will split all profits 50%/50% with you. I have an average CSP (cash selling price) of 2600.00 and the net profit on a deal like that is almost 2000.00 - you get roughly 1K per deal I am able to get” - that’s it, a simple deal like that, struck with just a couple local businesses and the money will begin to roll in. As you land more clients and spread the word further, a vacuum effect ensues and it becomes easier and easier to land more clients.
Next are local homeshows and tradeshows which present with being incredibly easy venues to visit as an attendee, introduce yourself to local businesses and simply gather contact info to set appointments at a later date to then go and sell.
This may seem like it’s too good to be true or too simple to work but that’s not the case at all. Local event marketing, because it is so simple and because so many web development agencies lack the tenacity to go out and to do it, is one of the best and most overlooked ways to develop a local client base.
Craigslist has a horrible reputation for being the lead source for bottom feeder prospects, but this is only somewhat true, some of the time. There are many high quality prospects posting on craigslist and even more looking for local companies to assist them in web development work.
Your local chamber of commerce is a great place to post your business and to pick up prospects who need a web development company, particularly new incorporations whose businesses have not even begun to shop for a web dev agency - or even know hey need one.
These are just a few of the local resources at your disposal to begin to develop a local client base. However you decide to market and to what degree you decide to pursue local clients is ultimately up to you.
Look, in sales, there are
going to be objections - that’s just a given, you cannot sell anything without
hearing objections to buying. Sometimes everyone (including you) make the
mistake of conflating objections (not WANTING to buy) with conditions (being
UNABLE to buy) but so it’s important to define exactly what an objection is.
An objection is an emotional or logical reason in the mind of a prospect for not wanting to purchase a good or service - period. That’s it, that is what an objection is.
Now, why understanding objections and learning to overcome them is critically important to sales, if you can overcome objections even 10% more often than you do right now, you can increase sales by even more than 10% because during each sales process you should be hearing and confronting objections at least 6 or 7 times before giving up on any given prospect. The financial benefit of increasing your positive objection handling can be monumental, if you increase sales by 15% than that means adding potentially tens of thousands or more to your yearly bottom line.
If you are in this industry long enough (and we hope you are!) you will hear many - many different objections. If you pay close enough attention to the objections you hear you will no doubt notice that they fall into several, identifiable categories with several distinct roots. If you can understand these root objections and properly identify and categorize them early on, you can overcome them much more easily and much more often.
Fear is by far the most common root of objections you will find, it takes on many forms and has many causes:
History of being scammed
History of terrible development process
Fear of the unknown (new technology)
Fear of change itself
Fear of extra work
Fear of added business complexity
The branches of the fear root spread wide and far within prospects, but what’s important to understand is, no matter the root, its fairly easy to address and allay the fears of prospects by grounding yourself in their eyes:
1. Letting prospects know that they will never be alone
2. Letting prospects know that it is common to have fears and doubts
3. Letting prospects know the development process is easy and convenient
4. Letting prospects know the new website (or service) will not add complexy but rather, it will take it away and bring convenience.
5. Making it clear you know what you are doing and are absolutely not a scammer - this is very important.
It is critical to understand that, he consultants approach really helps with fear objections. A consultants approach is the approach of a doctor prescribing a remedy, but first showcasing a real and genuine illness (problem) the process can be summed up in very simple steps as follows:
Step 1: Show the prospect the problem(s) that is (are) being caused by the current lack of or dysfunction of their website.
Step 2: Speak with the prospect and ascertain the areas that matter specifically to them as well as ascertaining what areas SHOULD matter to them.
Step 3: Showcase and explain the solutions which you have to the prospects problem areas with an emphasis upon simply, clearly and directly explaining the results that can and will be delivered.
Step 4: Explain process to your prospect, emphasize how many times you have done this, how simple it is, how you will be part, party and parcel to each step - always there to support them. Make sure they both clearly understand the process and are comfortable with it. It is also important when discussing process to let prospects know that the development process will not take up huge amounts of time or add huge workload to their already jam packed days.
It is also a good idea when discussing process to let prospects know you can either help with gathering content or know where content can be found for free or purchased (or created) very affordably - take this burden off of them, dispel this notion.
Step 5: Prior to going for the close, clearly emphasize what the prospect can expect to get out of the transaction with you. Make sure the prospect understands completely A: What they are paying for and B: On what timeline they can expect to see tangible quantifiable results.
With these five steps, if followed, 90% of fear based objections can be obliterated.
But fear based objections are not the only types of objections that this approach will tackle.
With step 1 you address the number 2 most common type of root objection seen by
prospects and that is complacency, complacency with regards to the web is a
very common type of root of many objections. Many prospects feel that the web
in general is either too big of a hurdle to jump or they feel that their
current website (lacking as it may be) is doing just fine. It is only when
presented with clear evidence of the damage done AND shown the ease and cost
effectiveness of taking action that this root objection can be overcome.
Many times, complacent prospects will also have another root objection, which is addressed in step 2 - skepticism.
Skepticism is a complex root objection but it is indeed a root objection, it is a complex root objection because it can be rooted in a generalized skepticism of salespeople, it can be specific skepticism of IT solutions, marketing itself, it can spring from so many sources. The way to approach this kind of root objection is by showcasing solid sound evidence of why this specific area of skepticism should matter to them and/or tying it into areas that actually DO matter to them.
A practical example of countering root skepticism is, for example, a prospect who believes very strongly that their bar or restaurant relies upon local customers, but is skeptical that they are losing out of on local customers due to a poor web presence. By showcasing to this prospect that increasingly locals new to the area or tourists in the area are using the web to find restaurants you can both A: Reinforce an already deeply seated belief in local customers and B: Show that local customers are being missed out on due to a lack of utilizing the web to its fullest. This is just one example of approaching root skepticism, many more exist, but this one is important because this kind of skepticism is very commonplace.
It’s also somewhat important to understand the history which has helped to create all of these objections, fears, skepticism and complacent ideas in prospects.
Many business owners, particularly brick and mortar businesses, have been victim to so many scams and horrendous development train wrecks that it isn’t hard to understand why they have many firmly implanted objections. The mind is a also complex thing, most tend to develop mental scars from the sense of loss from victimization much more easily and to a much higher degree than the momentary bitterness of a high price paid for a quality service. So when you encounter a prospect who paid 50,000 for a website in 1996 - but had a good experience, it is not uncommon for that same prospect to be bitter and upset over being scammed on telemarketing SEO for 200.00 in 2006 - they may not even remember the prices.
Negative perceptions to the development processes of old are also very common. In the past (1990’s and early 00’s) it was a standard development procedure to take physical 35mm photos at a business, have those images developed, sent to a company to scan those photos and burn them to a CD, then have a viewing session with clients to select photos and then to integrate them into the website - which itself was often story boarded through physical drawings. This process was time consuming, difficult and in the end produced results that almost never lived up to clients expectations - no matter the cost. This led to many situations where well intentioned developers - who were often very skilled as well - accidentally left clients feeling scammed.
You couple these senses of being scammed with the sheer diversity of services - social media, seo, websites, local business listings, mobile marketing, pay per click, on and on and on - and the potential for every one to be a scam and you have a recipe for future objections.
Understanding all of this and going into your interactions with clients knowing what they have been through can give you a tremendous edge.
There exist many numerous subdivisions of root objections and many numerous manifestations of them, some easily ascertained, others difficult to trace. Ultimately one of the biggest deciding factors between the age old 80/20 rule (80% of sales made by 20% of salespeople) is going to be how many times you ask for the order - how many times you make the prospect say no to you. The more times you force a prospect to say no, the more times you force a prospect to say no, the more chances you give them to say yes and the time you give yourself to figure out the root objection.
The key to all of this is to simply pitch, bitch and keep on pitching - the more you demo, the more you sell.
A car salesperson sells cars, a chef sells food but a web developer does NOT
sell websites! - A web developer sells the process of creating websites!. This
key difference is more than a play on words, it’s an objective fact of reality
that everyone selling web development services needs to understand, let us
Where you a car salesman you can show your prospect the car, they can sit down, test drive it, they can get a sense of what it will be like to own it and your job is get them to fall in love WITH THE CAR. If you were a chef, you could entice your prospects with the aroma of your food, offer them a free sample and let them read about your abilities in in the latest Michilen review, but you are a consultant selling web development, you can’t do those things, so what can you do?
The first thing you must do is to realize what it is that you actually are selling –the promise of a good outcome. Your kind of sales is analogous to a surgeon, lawyer or baseball player – you are selling your prospect on your ability to deliver the “big win” that they desperately want and need. Sales of this type are much more closely associated with the salesperson than any other type or kind of sales and require a different approach than other forms of sales. It’s perfectly logical if you think about it, how many times in your life have you gone car shopping and bought a car simply because you liked the salesperson? Probably never, because you knew what make and model of car you wanted long before you drove up to the car lot – this is especially true today. The same can be said for food, you knew before you walking into an Italian restaurant for example, that you A: were hungry and B: were in the mood for Italian food – how many times has your waiter or waitress had to sell you on ordering food?.
With web development your prospects are 100% in the dark about what they want, what they need or-most of the time- that they even need anything at all. Add to this the fact that the website doesn’t exist at the time of the sale – they are sold, literally, on the construction of the web site!. Your prospects don’t know who you are, what fair prices are, what matters, what doesn’t – they are as in the dark about websites as they are about neurosurgery or tax litigation, they know nothing. In sales situations where people know that they know nothing, they revert to instincts and life experience, they begin to ask themselves questions like: “How much do I trust this salesperson?” “Does this salesperson know what they are talking about?” “Does this person sound competent?” “Does this person sound confident?” “Can this person get the job done?” - they make their decision based upon YOU.
All of this adds up to the fact that when you are selling web development to people you are acting as a consultant and not a salesperson at all, so lets clear up some confusion about these terms. A lot of confusion exists when the term ‘consultant’ is thrown into the sales arena, a lot of people immediately think ‘consultative selling’ or ‘selling consultatively’ or ‘relationship selling’ - all kinds of mumbo jumbo exists, total nonsense, we all are guilty of having minds polluted to one degree or another from 50+ years of overly complex explanations of what are ultimately simple concepts.
Salespeople “sell” things
Consultants “consult” upon things
What does that mean? Well, it’s pretty simple.
If you visit a salesperson and tell them you have problem X Y or Z they are going to tell you that their product will correct X Y or Z and spend their time explaining its features and benefits, ultimately trying to close you on making the decision to buy.
If you visit a consultant and tell them you have a problem, they are going to ask you a lot of questions-some broad, some specific- and ultimately give you their expert opinion on what should be done, they may present you with several options or scenarios, but they are going to tell you what you need – flatly and matter of factly.
Another great example is a doctor. When you visit a doctor, they ask whats wrong, run tests and ultimately prescribe a treatment – they don’t try to sell you on a given medication, they order it. Yes, you are free to reject the doctors expert it advice and it is true that many doctors will try to convince you take treatments, but the difference between the doctors consultative approach and the salespersons is obvious.
One thing consultants are not however are educators. A lot of people are under the false assumption that to be a consultant is to be an educator of prospects – this is more true for salespeople than it is for consultants. A doctor never tries to teach her patient medicine, a lawyer doesn’t try to teach his patient law, a surgeon will never talk scalpels with their prospective patients – they say as much as need be and nothing more.
Being a consultant in the web development industry is no different than being a legal consultant or a medical doctor, it is about listening to what your prospects say, analyzing your prospects needs and applying a solution intelligently.
Some of the practices of good web development consultants:
1. Always have a plan for your prospects, never ask them what they ‘want’ always tell them what they ‘need’
2. Never let your prospects guide procedure, always inform them of what is going to happen, never let them inform you.
3. Never show prospects designs and ask which one they like, show them designs and tell them which one you feel would work best.
4. Never show prospects competitors and say ‘we need to do what they are doing’ - always show prospects competitors and say ‘we can do better than this’
5. Ask and documents 10x the information you need, more notes are much better than not enough!
6. Always maintain a professional demeanor, dress for success, speak concisely and intelligently and make respect your goal always
7. Maintain adequate contact, but never chase your prospects or your clients – have meeting, demand clients attend them, if they don’t, fee them for it – your doctor fees you for blowing him/her off, your lawyer does the same, why not you? If your clients ding you for time, ding them for money!
8. Make sure from the beginning of all relationships, your prospects understand how serious web development is, make them treat it with the respect it deserves.
9. Always operate with contracts, never leave the door open to litigation, accusation or liability of any kind.
10. Always conduct thorough research, invest time in knowing your prospects and their businesses and watch more of them turn into clients and stay clients.
If you follow these ten pieces of advice and practice the common sense of behaving in a professional way, you stand a much better chance at success in this industry.
Always remember, you set your own worth in this business, so take our advice and set the bar high.
How to avoid lemons
The first step in avoiding lemon clients is to stop (or not even start) the blame game. By ‘blame game’ we mean the common reaction that most have to getting their first (or first 10) bad clients. Most will blame a degraded society, a poor economy, poor marketing, bad sales, a bad geographic location or other stuff. We are here to tell those people to STOP!, it’s none of those things, it’s your own fault.
Yes, lemon clients are the fault of the company who has them – and bad luck, a little bit. Lemon clients are usually the product of piss poor policies, they can be screened away, contractually obligated away, warded off and walled out MUCH easier than they can be dealt with. When a company suffers a spate of lemons, they need to spend some time doing some serious self analysis – not crying and blaming others.
Top 10 ways to avoid lemons
Let’s go over the top 10 ways to avoid lemons in the development and digital marketing arena. This top ten may also apply to other industries, but it’s primarily directed at ours.
1. Contractual Bulletproofing
Don’t want endless edits? Put a number in writing.
Don’t want endless phonecalls? Spell it out in the contract
Don’t want to get scammed? Put your terms to paper!
Putting EVERYTHING in writing BEFORE you take someones money and REQUIRING them to sign that document in order to proceed is GOLD. If you are operating without an agreement, you are crazy. Contrary to popular belief, most contracts that are humanly readable and clear will suffice in the eyes of the law – should it ever get that far. We are not suggesting you don’t get an attorney (you absolutely should) but to use the lack of an attorney as an excuse for why you operate with absolutely no agreement in place is equally insane. A basic agreement, even if it isn’t written by a hot shot lawyer, will serve to spell out the deal you have with your client and gives you an important point of reference for when they step out of bounds.
The bottom line: Always have an agreement and always spell out the deals you ink with your clients.
2. Manage Expectations
Perhaps the most overlooked way to avoid lemon clients is the management of expectations.
If you analyze the scenarios under which lemon clients present themselves, a huge percentage of the time the root cause is false expectations being created either by the client themselves, the salesperson or the company – so don’t do it. Always make sure your clients understand what they are getting, when and to what degree.
To define this further, we mean features of services, number of edits, latitude of technology – everything, whatever it is, make sure the clients understand what to expect – ideally, before they are even clients.
3. Common Sense – In Marketing
If there is one thing everyone can agree on
it has to be that lemon clients are something we all hate dealing with. Lemon
clients sap time, profit and even lower morale at our businesses, all of which
is not only negative in the short term, but can have lasting consequences. What
this all adds up is that it’s incumbent upon all of us to avoid lemons, but
how?, we’ll show you!.
Shortly in this article we are going to cover a few simple strategies you can employ to drop your rate of lemons to nearly zero. However, before we start spouting our lemon-aid, we need to cover the types of lemons we’re talking about.
In digital marketing and development in general, lemon clients present with some very specific and identifiable forms.
The forms of lemon client’s include (but are not limited to) the following:
1. Never-ending Project Clients
These are the clients that want to edit, edit, edit and edit some more – but not pay for any of it, their love of change becomes your pain – directly.
2. The Nothing-is-right Clients
For these type lf lemons nothing you do is ever good enough, from the quality of graphics to the way you place text, it not only needs to be changed, but its bad and its your fault.
3. The Absentee Clients
These are clients that sign the ink, pay, then disappear – for weeks and even months. These clients act as if having the project commence was an afterthought of theirs and not a very important one. One day however, down the road, they do return and expect everything done in the blink of an eye – ouch.
4. The Needy Clients
Needy clients can be the worst, these are the clients that call-call-call they call day and night and want to ‘discuss’ everything, for them, the tiniest detail is worthy of a one hour conversation.
5. The Broke Jokes
This type of client is very common and perhaps the most frustrating (infuriating?) because they want the world but won’t or can’t pay for an ounce of it. These clients will fight you financially on everything while on the other hand demanding everything.
6. The Scammers
These are the clients that get you to deliver a finished product and make you feel the deal is over, then demand a full or partial refund – while they keep the work, nice!.
7. The Dysfunctionals
These are the clients that can’t send you a Jpeg file, they don’t know what a zip file is, that argue that the site should be built in macromedia flash – and other crazy stuff. Now, to be fully honest, these clients take on many forms, the only common denominator is a cocktail of stupidity, ignorance and often (unfortunately) confidence.
Just 7? Why not 500?
These are the seven most common types of lemon clients, there are more, we are sure that other development companies have secret hierarchical trees that break down lemon clients into many assorted sub-types and levels – we don’t, we just have 7, but, these days, we have more like zero.
Continued in part 2….
Regardless of the cost, you can complete a sale's deal if you totally understand the needs of your prospective buyer and if you offer quality products. It doesn't mean that your prospect will keep a blind eye on the price label.
Since all buyers are human, it shouldn't come as a surprise to you if they enquire and haggle about the price because everyone wants the best deal. The rule of thumb you should always follow is to let your potential customer know the price beforehand. This will help you shift out those who cannot purchase and help you to identify those with enough money to make a purchase.
When the sale is in progress, it is your duty to gather all the relevant facts that can enable you put forth your prepositions and the rate of return you expect from your product. What you must not allow to happen is a shocked customer when they see the price sticker at the conclusion of the sale. The inevitable consequence of that is bubbling frustration because both parties have already invested effort and time in the process.
Below are tips about how
to address the cost of your service or product with three different types of
typical buyers: the influencer, the decision maker, and the champion.
Although the champion might be on your side, he/she will be of little value if they lack any pull. It is important for them to understand the company dealings so that while representing you, they can make the decision maker and the influencer appreciate his/her point of view.
A well-coached champion brings an atmosphere of trust, and therefore, he/she is better placed to clinch a winning deal in the battle for prices in by asking the following questions:
The influencer could be the individual giving the decision maker advice or they could be responsible for managing the RFP. It is essential to know what they personally invest in your solution because they can also be champions.
Find out why they may complain about the price to understand where their concerns originate. The reason is that that the influencer has the ability to change the mind of the decision maker. To the influencer, ask the following questions about why they reject the price so that you can determine the real issues.
The Decision Maker
The decision maker comes in at the last stages when the price is firmly stated. State the price and shut up to weigh their reactions. If the decision maker seems undecided, don't rush for the discount, but you can offer freebies to get the contract signed.
Consult with the manager of sales if their no progress, but the price shouldn't count now if you engaged the prospect well. You can resolve the issues around the price in this ways.
Before explaining why being the cheapest guy (or gal) around
is a bad idea in the web dev world, let us clearly differentiate something.
When we write about low prices being bad, we are not talking about teaser
rates, discounts, low introductory pricing, give aways or any kind of marketing
or sales technique one might employ to entice business. When we discuss the bad
side of low pricing, we’re discussing the clients...
The people who will jump ship and go with one web developer over another based on price alone are a unique kettle of fish. These are not value shoppers, these are not the price conscious, nor are they the coupon-crowd, these are the know-nothing crowd – and you had better be careful. Wow, way to group a bunch of people together and prejudge them huh? Well, let us give you an analogy that will clarify.
Imagine a man (or woman) who has a toothache decides to shop for a dentist not based upon professionalism or track record, but upon price. He or she visits a dentist and learns it will cost a bit to repair said tooth, on the way out the door a creepy looking man approaches with a pair of pliers and offers to pull the tooth for the price of a bottle of rum.
Now, ask yourself, what should this person do? A: Run really fast or B: Go with the creepy guy, at least he’s cheap!?
Now I know, you are probably grinning, but this funny analogy truly is directly analogous to the business owner who entrusts their brand, reputation, future earnings not to mention passwords and other sensitive data to a company based purely on price. The fact is, these type of shoppers are ignorant and see the price and not the value of the service.
Now, a strong argument could be made that if you educate such shoppers, they will change their tune and suddenly wake-up, however experience has taught us that this isn’t the case. Shoppers who ardently pursue low prices in the web development arena have already gotten quotes from numerous professionals – to compare – and you can bet your bottom dollar that each and every one of them tried their best to educate them – and failed. The fact is, the prospect who is price shopping and comparing different companies in an effort to find the cheapest is likely very entrenched in their opinion that price is all that matters and you wont change this.
Another thing experience has taught us is that there is an inverse correlation between the amount a client pays and the difficulty of working with them. The clients who fight for low prices are also often those who will fight for the most work for it – a double edged sword.
So here we have clients who generally hold the entrenched opinion that ‘all development is the same’ whom want to pay the least, while also expect the most. This is the worst kind of client situation anyone in development could find themselves in.
Generally speaking good clients are those who understand there is truth to the old saying “you get what you pay for”. Good clients will scrutinize details, they will ask engaging questions, they will worry about how much BENEFIT a service will bring to them BEFORE worrying about its cost. Cost is a real consideration for everyone, but generally speaking, even a 150% price difference is not large enough to change someones mind when the cost of the service is minimal compared to its value. Trying to win by being the cheapest works in commodities, where qualitative difference matters very little, but it doesn’t work in professional services – and never, ever will.