Local Marketing & Resellers

  • By TOM LOMBARDI
  • 04 Oct, 2017

For resellers or digital marketing or developmental services, a local client base is almost always both the easiest to cultivate and the most lucrative. 

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 either.

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
2. Craigslist
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.

Rocket Entrepreneurial Blog

By TOM LOMBARDI 04 Oct, 2017

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 either.

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
2. Craigslist
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.

By TOM LOMBARDI 29 Sep, 2017

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.

Scared Prospects

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.


Complacency


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.

Histrionics

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.  

By TOM LOMBARDI 18 Sep, 2017
In the sale of web development it’s quite often the case that the person doing the selling knows less about web development than the prospect doing the buying - why and how is this possible?

The reason this is the case is because the prospect doing the buying knows their business, they might not know web development but they know what their customers need and they know what they need to serve them.

All too often the salesperson in charge of selling a prospect a website takes the perspective of a one-size-fits-all shoe salesperson and attempts to sell prospects on features they don’t feel they need or will never use in their websites. Usually this ends up taking the form of websites that have features or integrations in them that are being under-utilized or not utilized at all because there is very little buy in on the part of clients - who are more right than wrong about not using these features most of the time.

To sell a website correctly it is first very important to take the time to perform a quick analysis of not only prospects businesses and websites, but also to look at the websites of competitors to see what it is they are doing in order for you to do it better. It is not necessary to spend any money or even much time to do an analysis. A simple trip over to your favorite search engine, a glimpse at your prospects website and local competitors (and national front runners) is all it takes to get the picture of what is being done by the little guys around town, the big guys nationally and your prospect - which should give you a pretty clear picture of what needs to be done to tune things up.

The next thing you need to do is to listen to your prospect, hear them out, ask them how their business operates, who their customers are, which segment of customers they want more of, what they thing their strong suit is, what products or services are their flagships, which ones aren’t. The purpose of this is to get an idea what your prospect thinks, where they are, where they want to be.

Many times, when you speak to a prospect after having first done an analysis and gotten an idea of what you thought was a clear picture, a new one will emerge. Often times, who seems like a competitor of a prospect isn’t, what seems like their flagship product isn’t, what seemed like a very clear cut situation was, in reality, not so clear cut at all, this is why listening to prospects is so important.

Having done research is absolutely not a waste of time, no matter how fruitless it may seem once a prospect clarifies things. The purpose of research is not always beneficial in getting a crystal clear picture of what prospects need, often the utility of research is to get a lay of the land surrounding your prospect.

Once you’ve done research and gotten a picture of what the prospect feels that they need and clarifies things, you should have a very clear idea of what a given prospects needs actually are and equally important, what their needs are not.

This combination of research and listening is what defines a consultant, its what doctors do every day and it’s what you need to do if you want to be successful in this industry and at your business.

Take it from us - it works!

By TOM LOMBARDI 13 Sep, 2017

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 explain.

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.

By TOM LOMBARDI 05 Sep, 2017

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 you place an advertisement that says ‘cheapest websites on earth’ what kind of prospects do you think you’ll attract?. Using common sense in marketing doesn’t mean avoiding being “salesy” or enticing, it means avoiding making proclamations in marketing that are not backed up by facts, or assertions you don’t want to back up – like being the cheapest on earth. If you bottom feed, don’t be surprised when you brush up against bottom dwellers.

4. Ethical Selling

A lot of lemon clients are straight up created by poor sales practices – lying, exaggerating, omitting facts or important details, all of these sleazy and process-ignorant practices will tend to create bad client relationships down the road. This unethical behavior really makes the term ‘lemon client’ a misnomer – maybe you are the lemon?

5. Intelligent Management

Managing your business isn’t just about keeping accurate books and filing things on time, it’s about contracting the right salespeople, conducting follow ups and making sure things being said in your name are truthful. Many times bad client relationships are the product of bad sales practices – either intentional or out of rank ignorance. If you see a spate of poor deals come through your business, you can rest assured that something is causing it and that something will generally boil down to the need for better management.

6. Choose Your Clients

There is an old saying “you can’t choose your family, so choose your friends wisely” well, let’s invent a new one - “You can’t choose your prospects, but you can choose your clients”

Within reason it is entirely within your power to analyze and accept or reject a deal based upon whether or not that deal makes sense for your business. Sometimes it’s obvious that a given prospect’s deal is going to cause your business problems and it’s better to pass on short term profits for long term stability and health at your business.

7. Always Verify Information

It is important that after every deal is sold you – or someone you trust 1000% - calls and verifies the details of each and every deal sold in your name. What do we mean by verify? We mean conduct a detailed verbal verification that the information relayed to your company by salespeople is accurate, that the prospect understands the timeframe, deal, everything and that the prospect knows what they are paying, to whom, when and is comfortable and informed about everything – BEFORE they pay you.

A common mistake made by people in this industry is to trust salespeople to sell deals properly and cleanly and to not call and verify relayed data – only to learn there are problems baked in the cake of the deal. These problems can be minor misunderstandings or major ethical violations – you just don’t know unless you check.

8. Continuous Followup – by PHONE

Sometimes a lemon client isn’t a lemon at all, they are just frustrated or getting the wrong impression. It is critical that as prospects transition into being your clients, you take the time to stay engaged with them on the phone, to check if everything is going okay, to answer questions – make them feel as important NOW as they were when you sold them. Never abandon your clients!

Often times, we see breakdowns and souring of relationships because our partners (resellers) are selling so many deals they begin to abandon quality in favor of what they perceive as efficiency in communications – they start emailing people instead of calling them. This leads to miscommunication, frustration and problems that never would arise on the phone.

9. Rules

Make sure that before you ever ink a contract with someone you sit down and explain your development process, your corporate policies, your ‘rules’ - in no uncertain terms. When people understand there are boundaries to a relationship from the start, they are much less likely to test them and cause problems later on.

What are some of the things you might explain?

1. We will communicate by phone ONCE per week
2. You must email ALL edits in a SINGLE email to me ONCE PER WEEK
3. You must interact with the project MANAGER only – not the salesperson
etc

The idea here is to simply clearly define what process you want clients to follow and to have a simple call to explain this stuff, afterwards you may also email this to them as a reference. This is separate from a contract, though you may want some of this in your contract, but is done simply as a way to convey process in a meaningful way to avoid problems.

10. Stay Cool

When honest well intended people encounter dishonest, hostile or outright nasty people they tend to react with fear, disbelief and anger – however justified, this is wrong. You need to have your eyes always open that scammers and bad people are out there and that you will encounter some of them sooner or later, what matters is how you handle them.

It has been said that the unprepared react and the prepared respond, this is very true when dealing with client management in this industry. If you remain calm and handle things in a level headed way, 9 out of 10 times you will have a favorable outcome – so keep calm and carry on.

Conclusion

Lemon clients are a reality, they are both self-created and accidentally encountered, however you wind up bumping into them, have your ducks in a row to resolve the situation the best way you can.

By TOM LOMBARDI 28 Aug, 2017

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….

By TOM LOMBARDI 21 Aug, 2017

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.

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:

  • If your services were priced the same as the rest, which would the boss choose? If the champion concedes that it is yours, don't hesitate to ask for a signature. But if not, find out whether they have used a different supplier previously of if a competitor has misled them. Gauge the reaction of the decision maker on your next call while repositioning yourself for a better bargain.
  • Find out the terms and prices that the competitors are giving. Ask your manager to offer additional incentives regardless of the position of your company in the sales chain. Try, , if you are a sales rep, to offer additional value to the champion at the same price rather than going flat out for a discount

 

The Influencer

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.

  • Find out whether they are looking for better deals or if they are just concerned about the price. If they say yes to the former, focus on value-addition because with the right value, the deal in the product will be good and so the price will not count much.
  • Determine whether the concern is about the ROI. You need to have calculated the rate of return in real figures. Let the influencer see the analysis for the ROI before showing them the price as a reminder.
  • Find out when was the last time they purchased an item on the basis of the lowest cost. If the business comes first, then you will find out they haven't done so recently. If the other systems and products they use are pricey, then you know that regardless of the price, the influencer appreciates value.

 

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.

  • Find out the financial state of the decision maker, and whether it is a cash-flow or budget issue they have. This will enable you to give suitable concessions
  • Find out what they think about the value of the product you are offering. If they aren't satisfied, then your offer isn't right for them, but if they agrees, reassure them of the value of your product.
By TOM LOMBARDI 18 Aug, 2017
We’ve compiled a five item checklist of things that we feel you cannot get away with cutting corners.

Cheap vs Low Cost

Before we present our list it’s important you understand that, by cutting corners, we don’t necessarily mean going ‘low cost’ we mean going ‘cheap’ as-in, doing it yourself, not doing it at all or hiring your ex-buddies-girlfriends-sisters-friend to do it on the fly. Many things in this list can be done in a professional manner for very little or even no money – but they must be done correctly.

1. A Logo

A logo is the first impression and often last that someone will have of your business, a bad logo – or worse yet, no logo at all – says that you don’t care about your company enough to spend less than a happymeal on giving it a brand. Get your butt over to fiverr.com and get a logo done there, it might not cost much but it sure can earn you big bucks over time.

2. A CRM

The days of the Rolodex or worse yet – filing cabinet, are long over. A good CRM doesn’t have to break the bank and will empower your business to be able to hypothetically have more than one person working sales at a given time – and that person will be sane. Check out Free CRM if you are on a budget.

3. A Mobile Presentation Device (Laptop, Tablet, Netbook – whatever)

Walking into an in-person presentation with a printed pitchbook is cool – if its a backup item or your clients are very old-school. If you want to make a professional impression, you need to be able to convey ideas in a modern way – so get with the times. Amazon.com lists the Elecost Android tablet for less than 120.00 – and it looks just fine to conduct demos in person.

  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N7V7L66/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_15?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A1U53BLLPEDLDS

4. A Microphone

If you have to hop on a demonstration and it’s online with someone located somewhere far far away the odds are you will be using a platform like Zoom.us or Join.me and will be sharing more than your desktop – you’ll likely be using audio. Combine this reality with the fact many businesspeople use skype and your mic becomes an important part of your business arsenal. A good mic doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars or even hundreds, but dropping a few bucks on a noise cancelling headset on Amazon.com can save you a ton in lost business.

5. A real email address & Phone number

It’s painful to watch entrepreneurs try to conduct business using Gmail accounts and Gtalk numbers – yes, it can be done, but someone else told me Ernest Shackleton spent a winter in Antarctica once and that isn’t advisable either. It is important to put your professional foot forward and invest a few dollars a month to get an email address associated with your domain name – literally a few dollars. Lastly is a phone number – skype service can be had for under 10.00 a month that gives your business a dedicated number – check it out: www.skype.com
By TOM LOMBARDI 16 Aug, 2017

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...

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.

Good clients

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.

By TOM LOMBARDI 14 Aug, 2017
Often resellers ask a lot of questions SURROUNDING the sale of services but never ABOUT the sale of services. They ask how to get bigger deals, how to get more leads, how to find better prospects, how to handle intake meetings better – it’s endless questions that don’t get to the heart of the matter. The reason resellers miss the point is because they are looking at the sale of digital marketing services in the context of growing their businesses all wrong.

Selling digital services is checkers, not chess.

Okay, well, its checkers THEN chess. Marketing (assuming its properly executed) is mostly numbers, but we already know that. What isn’t numbers is what comes after, the presentation, the pitch, the sale, the close – that stuff is where resellers need to focus if they want to increase sales.

This while effort however, needs to be put into context.

When you have more sales, you have more money to buy more leads or market to get more leads, money solves the marketing problem. Business in its purest form is math, marketing is the perfect example. Marketing math is simple math - Spend X on marketing to get Y in sales, if Y exceeds X than you scale. The way to get money is to get more sales – pure and simple. So how do you get more sales?

Let me ask you a quick question, really quick.

If you had 5 leads, just 5 and you KNEW from past experience that the odds are out of them two were potentials to close, what would you do?. Would you pitch all five the same as you would if you had 50 leads? Of course not, but you are probably doing it right now.

Most resellers we know, they will handle 5 leads the sale as 50 and 50 the same as 500 – they need to wake up.

If you are currently selling digital marketing services than you need to wake up and recognize that the leads you have – however many – are gold. These leads represent the growth seed of your business and each and every one should be handled like it were a precious gemstone in your hands.

The way to increase sales then, should be obvious – improve your demonstrations.

The best way we know to improve demonstrations - and this is assuming everything is spot on with the WAY you present – is the personalization. Personalization is lacking in about 99% of sales presentations made in any given industry of any given product or service, but its proven time and again to be the No.1 way the increase sales – bar none.

Research

If you don’t believe us, please go and try this out and see if it works, if not, dump it – you wont. Try doing your homework on the business, the businesses model of operation, key industry players and real competitors and go into your presentation armed with this information. When you sit down to talk business with the businesses owner or executive there, talk to them about beating X Y or Z company who competes with them, talk to them about the competitive advantage, talk to them about how your service will improve their business because it will help with their business model – let them know, that you know how they operate, that you have legitimate and relevant knowledge of their business.

Now, we’re not advocating you spend 5 hours doing research on Google either. We’re saying to take 20 minutes or a half hour – per demo you have set, and do your homework. Every consummate professional should learn to do this. Not doing this kind of research, not learning about prospects businesses, not taking the time to be able to deliver relevant information, is a huge, HUGE mistake.

Walking this extra mile for your prospects is the only way you will go from zero to hero. Stop whining about the leads, stop searching for the next ‘new thing’ in closing, do the work you should be doing and you will see your sales ratio go up.

They don’t call it the 80/20 rule for nothing, do you want to be the 80 or the 20? Your choice.

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