If you are like me, the word 'sales' brings to mind the image of a greasy-haired guy in a cheap suit trying to sell you something you don't need (or want).
Unfortunately, sales is pretty important if you plan to run a business. Or at least it is important if you plan on staying in business for very long.
So, want to know how you can master sales in web design without becoming the greasy-haired guy in a cheap suit? Here's how.
In this brief post we will review 5 super-easy tips to closing sales more effectively and with less hassle. These tips will also position you better to be able to charge more and stop discounting your services!
1: Pre-qualify all of your clients
This is something you will hear a lot about from various sources, but most web designers do not really take it seriously. I know I didn't for a long time.
Typically people associate pre-qualifying clients with working in a specific niche, but it is just as useful if you are just a general web designer. Pre-qualifying clients means that in order to take on a client they need to meet certain requirements. This allows you to filter out clients who cannot or will not pay your rates. Obviously prospects like that are a massive waste of time that could be better spent marketing yourself to people who can and will actually purchase your services.
Setting a specific list of qualifications for taking on a client also simplifies your marketing and sales process itself. Since you already have a set list of requirements that defines the profile of your ideal client, it becomes much easier to find and communicate with those people.
I actually use a worksheet that I have prospects fill out before I will even consider meeting them in person. This allows me to get a very clear idea of who they are, what they need and whether or not I will be a good fit for them. This also helps weed out undesirable prospects because the undesirable prospects will be unwilling or very uncooperative in filling out that worksheet.
2: Never compete on price
One of the mistakes I made when I first started in web design was that I tried to make sales by being cheaper than everyone else.
This is a mistake. Do not make it.
If your main selling point is that you are cheaper than the next guy, you need to re-evaluate your service. If you focus on just being cheaper or more accessible, you work automatically becomes less valuable and you lose a lot of respect from your clients. Your main selling point should be something about the service itself, how you interact with clients, your knowledge of their business, something that sets you apart and justifies your prices.
Possibly the biggest problem with competing on price alone is that there is always someone else willing to perform the same service for less money. This is especially the case in the U.S. where we end up competing with web designers from India and the Philippines who can reasonably reduce their prices because of currency conversion rates. If you try to compete with them on price, you will only run your business into the ground.
Another noteworthy point here is that cheap services attract low-quality clients. If a client is only looking for the cheapest possible service provider, they probably don't really care about your qualifications or your skills. Instead they want a quick fix. They want something for nothing. They will be a nightmare to work with, and you should avoid them like the plague.
3: Position yourself as the expert
In creative fields like web design, it can become very easy to take an overly appreciative view of your clients. When you get hired, you don't want to be blushing and saying "Me? You're hiring little ol' me?" because it shows a lack of confidence in your skills and in the value of your services.
When a prospect chooses to purchase your services, they have no guarantee that you will do your job well. They are taking a risk by investing in your services, so it is your job to make them feel confident enough in you to make that investment. If you act like you are surprised that they might hire you, how do you think that makes them feel? Just a bit uneasy?
On the other hand if you display confidence in your abilities and show that you know what you are talking about and that you can deliver the services as promised, they will feel much more at ease with you and are much more likely to hire you.
To position yourself as an expert, follow these simple steps:
- Be frugal with your own time - Never let a client take over your day. If you have a meeting, tell them you have exactly X number of minutes to spend in the meeting and then you have to go. Always have an agenda of specific topics to talk about, and never go into a meeting without having clearly defined goals for that meeting. This shows that your time is valuable, prevents clients from being disrespectful of your schedule, and gives the impression that you are a busy person. Even if you are not particularly busy at that time, this will contribute to you being perceived as more professional and as more of an expert.
- Give qualified prospects free information - If a prospect has made it through your qualification process and you have acquired a reasonable amount of information about their business, start sharing relevant articles with them. If they need you to redesign and ecommerce store, send them articles about copywriting on products or on reducing shopping cart abandonment rates. This shows them that you are up to date on current information in web design and that you can bring them a lot of value with your services. It also helps to show them that you have a deep understanding of your field and contributes to your expert status.
- Interview prospects, don't let prospects interview you - Instead of letting a prospect grill you for an hour about whether or not you deserve to work on their project, turn the tables on them. As was mentioned before, you should already be displaying confidence in your service. Take it a step further and own the meeting. Ask them high-quality questions about what their needs are, why they need a website now, and why they feel like you are the right person to do it.
- Ask them to tell you what value they think you bring to the project - This will be an uncomfortable question for most, but it is extremely valuable. Asking them to tell you why they want to hire you gets them thinking about your skills and the benefits they will reap by hiring you. It helps to reaffirm in their mind that you are qualified, and they essentially end up convincing themselves that you are worth hiring.
4: Use their own language when speaking with them
When interacting with prospects and clients, try to rephrase things that they tell you and reiterate what they told you. If you ask a question, rephrase their answer and ask them if you understand them correctly. This gets them into the habit of saying 'yes' when they are around you and creates a positive bias toward you. Reiterating their words also helps to establish in their minds that you understand their needs and that you really 'get' them.
This goes hand-in-hand with asking questions as I mentioned in the last section. Ask them why they need a website. Reiterate their answer. Ask them why else. Reiterate. Ask another question. Reiterate. Ask why again. Rinse and repeat.
Asking good questions and showing that you understand their answers will make you stand head and shoulders above the competition.
5: Focus on the benefits they will receive by investing in your service
Many web designers make the mistake of focusing on features or technology rather than benefits.
Ultimately, the client does not care whatsoever how their website works (for the most part). If they wanted to understand the ins-and-outs of WordPress, they would learn WordPress and then make the website themselves. It simply isn't their job to know or understand all of those things.
Instead, show them the benefits of your service. Tell them how their new website will solve all of the problems they have told you about in your meetings. Make them want to buy your service because it will grow their business and make their lives easier.
The last step is to show them a proposal that reiterates all of their problems, explains how you will solve them, and shows that you understand what they really need.
If you have followed the previous steps correctly, they will be more than happy to accept your proposal and give you the contract.
Call to Action:
What problem do you face most often in selling your services to prospects? Tell me in the comments below!
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