Salesmanship and sales know-how are very important in business. I’m specifically referring here to salesmanship for web designers, and how to sell websites, but the basic concepts work in many industries. You can set all the meetings in the world, and even hand out proposals to a hundred potential clients, but if you can’t close a deal, you’ll be closing your doors real soon.
If you can take a genuine full-fledged marketing course such as what is offered at the Sandler Institute, you will come out the other end a much better salesperson. These courses are expensive, and time-consuming, but in the long-run, they will help you make a lot more money over time, and improve your professional standings for the rest of your life.
Another way to learn sales in your chosen profession is to work for a company that does what you plan to do in business, or is very similar. Simply shooting from the hip may work for some very special and naturally talented people, but getting help is generally a great idea – even for the natural talents.
I chose the professional training method, and I’m happy I did. It was life-changing for me. I close about half the people that are interested in my services.
Here is a simplified method of how I sell websites and web services:
- I mostly market my business by having a great website that ranks high on Google in the Organic and Local sections.
- When people call or email me for information I pre-qualify them to see if they are serious or wheel-kickers. Not only do I ask what I can do for them, but I find out if they have any idea of what a service like mine actually costs. If they know what to expect, that’s great. If they don’t, I throw out a ballpark figure. If they don’t go into shock, I try to set an appointment. I say that because the occasional person thinks a website can cost less than $100, until they learn the facts.
- At the appointment, I thank them for inviting me (if the meeting is at their location). I take the stance of a consultant who can help, not a sales person. I let them know that if we are a good fit we can work together, and if not that’s OK too. I never pressure people or try any hard-sell tactics.
- It’s better to get a no and move on, than to waste time trying to push a string up a hill (if you know what I mean).
- I ask a lot of questions about what the potential customer needs and envisions, and the importance of the project from a personal and financial perspective. I ask how much an average client is worth to them in profit. I asked if they have ever worked with a web designer and what problems they may have had. I listen a lot, and I take a lot of notes. I lead the conversation mostly by asking questions.
- I ask the client when they are planning to start, and if they would be willing to move forward if I hit a home-run on the proposal.
- I go back to my office and write them a detailed e-mail telling them what they told me they wanted from a web design company, and what they didn’t want to happen again. This lets them know that I heard them and that I am detailed enough to understand the project and their needs. Subliminally this allows them to realize that I’m perhaps the best person to do the work for them. By mentioning their past agrivations it’s implied that I won’t let that happen to them again. I don’t have to promise that, but sometimes I do let them know they don’t have to worry about having that problem with me.
- I give them a ballpark estimate in the e-mail, and tell them I can bring a detailed estimate with deposit requirements if they are ready to move forward. I never write detailed proposals until I have their OK to do business. Otherwise, I’d be spending too much time educating my potential clients so that they can bring my proposal and information to the competition, who will be more than happy to beat my price by a few dollars and steal the client.
- I ask the potential client if there is anything else they need from me in order to be sure we’re a good fit, and if they have any more questions for me. I provide all if possible, but I don’t try to sell myself.
- I remind them that it’s OK to say no, but I also try to set a next step. If they do say no, I try to find out why. They may have a genuine reason that I can remedy. If not, I move on and talk to other prospects. If they say they want to keep moving forward, we do so.
- I set a date for a final consultation and I bring my complete proposal/contract with me, which outlines all deposit requirements. I expect to, and often do, close the deal and collect a check on that second meeting at that point. I’ve also been surprised many times when a potential client blurted out, “let’s get started now,” at the initial meeting. So if you have a feeling they are ready to go, there is nothing wrong with asking them right then and there if they’d like to get started.
- Then I go about exceeding the client’s expectations.
Consider some kind of sales training, work in your industry, or practice closing a deal.