Prospects – Getting to the Gig

OK, what are you wearing? There is one rule. Be the best dressed person in the room.

007I work in Durban which is very humid in summer. Wear a suit and you look like a sloppy journalist just out of the pub. Have the aircon in the car turned up high.

If you wear a jacket, leave it on the car hook. Don’t forget that the guys you are meeting probably work in air conditioned offices.There is a workaround though.

Most young male company men have a uniform. Blue long sleeve shirt, brown long pants, brown shoes. I wear something similar – a different coloured shirt – and a tie. It doesn’t hurt and you can leave it loose until just before you get out the car.

Getting to the Gig

Never be late. If I have never been to meetings there before I always allow an extra twenty minutes even if I get there OK and have to sit in the car for a few minutes. Park in the shade if there is any. I’m a Luddite and don’t have a GPS although should invest in one.

GPS or not, get a ding on the freeway and you will be 30 minutes late.

traffic

I limit site visits to within 10kms of Durban CBD. I have driven plenty further on the odd occasion but you are in no way regarded as enthusiastic, more as pathetic and desperate.

Your Wheels

vetteI know this is not an easy thing to change but the wheels should display authority and sufficient cash. Not a beach buggy.  And make sure it’s not covered in bird shit and full of baby things and supermarket bags.

I use a somewhat geriatric Audi A4. It’s enough, I hope to distinguish me as a discerning motorist. I used to have a 1976 Corvette which was guaranteed to get the conversation started.

External Evaluation

Right, we’ve done some detective work and have now arrived at the prospects. Big operation? Small? How many staff about?

Look in the staff car park. A row of luxury cars will also tell you something about the company’s largesse. Lots of Dough?

luxurycars

Maybe but the row of SUVs will all probably be on lease which may mean they have no money for a website – can go either way. But you may find out during the meeting.

Turned Up Early?

Always be on time – obvious really.  Late for a meeting may also imply late replies to website queries. I have found that if you arrive early, it’s taken as a sign of professionalism rather than desperation.

Internal Evaluation

You’ll get a good idea of what the prospect might pay by simply looking around. Expensive fixtures, plants, hardware like computers, maybe even a server will indicate that they are looking for a top end website. The boardroom, where most meetings are held will tell you a great deal.

If you are ushered to a tiny room packed with product or piles of paper then it’s likely the prospect wants ‘just a web page’ and is looking for the lowest possible price. You don’t know however, often until you get to the place but when I see this sort of operation, I’ve pretty well wasted a couple of hours.

office

 

 

Prospect Meetings – Pace Yourself

Get yourself informed about the prospect and what he expects before you start the pitch. You can then deliver a much more measured delivery.

carsalesman1The ‘running off at the mouth’ that is often employed by web designers both at web design meetings and on their websites is meant to impress upon the audience how much they know.  All it does is impress the audience how disorganized (and sloppy and illiterate) they often are.

It’s a balancing act. You don’t want to sit there and say nothing – the prospect does want to have an opinion about you other than ‘taciturn’ (or ‘chancer’ – even worse). On the other hand, you mustn’t dominate the conversation and sound like a car salesman.

The trick is to be friendly but sound profound. Not easy and you have to think on your feet.

Get Your Position Right – Right from the Outset

It’s important to create a hierarchy. Who are you?

Are you the guy who is going to jump at every phone call demanding yet another change? Or, are you the consultant who will dispense his manifold skills to their advantage and to whom they will prostrate themselves?

Are you the maid or the doctor?

It may sound arrogant but it has consequences later on. If you come across as weak, submissive and pliable, you may get the gig but you will get communications that will have that expectation – how high can you jump? Why are you not adding all this extra stuff to my website – now!

consulting

Alternatively, if you are the doctor, it will be – ‘What do you think of this?’, ‘I understand it may cost more but how about adding these?’ The consequence of the ‘consultant’ position is, of course that you can charge more by reason of your professionalism.

Of course listen to the prospect and be adaptable. Be pliant but not pathetic.

Webbie Qualifications

I don’t like regulations but it is a problem that there are few real yardsticks of website designers’ performance out there. Most website designers are self taught. Only a few will come through existing courses (subject of another post). Prospects in my experience pay more attention to you personally than to your portfolio.

SImilarly, this poses a small problem in that prospects pay more attention to you, your appearance, your knowledge and authority than to a piece of paper. Which may be worthless.

Tell Them

  1. A little about the company background and perhaps your own background as it relates to the business;
  2. Tell them why you love designing websites;
  3. How many sites you have designed and for which big important clients;
  4. The types of sites – marketing, database, CMS, eCommerce etc. and their uses
  5. Your SEO skills that get your clients cash;
  6. The way you go about developing your websites;
  7. Things you can do to marketing websites to increase their pull – social bookmarking, newsletters, blogs, client lists, testimonials etc.
  8. Special services like hosting;

Answer any questions promptly and then resume. Make sure that your tone is knowledgeable but informal. Cut the anecdotes – they distract people and waste time. They don’t want to deal with Victor Meldrew. Nor do they want to deal with Justin Bieber.

Bye Bye

farewel1Be aware of meeting fatigue. People being distracted, looking at their cellphones, what’s going on outside the door. Paper shuffling.

Time to wrap up and go. In my case usually between 45 minutes and an hour.

Do not make them sit there while you go over your last 9 points.  They will think that if they give you the gig you will micromanage it to death. Use the space they will give you to speak to get the main points over then talk about their own requirements.

Have a list of less than important items that can be left off if there is no time.

  • In my case – web design courses;
  • Control panel uses;
  • Anecdotes;
  • How busy – or otherwise – you are

Time to go, thank them all, get out and thank them again in an email. If you agreed to quote then follow up a few days after it’s submission.

farewell2

Prospects – Meetings 101 or Why You Were Invited

Un-ideally, and usually, the meeting  takes place after you have submitted the quotation. In other words, your prospect has shuffled a bunch of quotes together and for reasons unknown, you have ended up on his little pile.

Why You Are There

The reasons could be a low price (Ugh!) or, you hope, the professional service you offer. Or anything else. But, you need to go into this meeting with a good mental picture of what you quoted for and the amount you quoted. Take any emails because for sure, he will have them. Look through the correspondence in relation to the quote. Have I missed something?

angrymanIn most cases it’s the price that got you there and not your fancy quote form so expect some horsetrading.

At the meeting, additional functionality/pages will be brought up either by your prospect (to squeeze the quote) or yourself  (to increase the quote).

The Curve Ball

He has had the chance to look at several quotes and thought to himself – “Hmm, didn’t think of that!”, “Ooh, I want LOTS of those!’ or “That would be nice”.

He will try and get you to commit your price to this additional functionality, which may be significant – (“Oh, we thought we’d have a database driving those extra 20 pages”).

Your Response

Resist, although things may may otherwise going swimmingly. There are probably a bunch of people round the table BTW so there may be a little pressure. He may ask you there and then – “Well, how much extra do you think this will cost?”.

interrogationResist – although there may be some pressure. Tell your prospect that you need to evaluate the new spec. and you’ll submit a new quote tomorrow.

Tell him that your quotations are prepared very thoroughly. Get your breath back when you get to the office – and don’t leave it too long before reissuing the quote. I have done this and even got mixed up with what client wants what.

When You Get Back

No matter how much you impress him with the approximate-ness of the figure, this figure gets itself set in concrete between the meeting and your quote submission. What you’re going to do is have a relook at the quote, add stuff from the meeting and have a REAL thorough inspection of the existing website in case that content is going to be reused.

The devil is in the detail. Too true.  I have found some horrific stuff in the basement over the years.  Some little, weeny text link leads to a whole new 30 page website.

quote_timeOnce you have done this, put the quote together making sure that the new stuff from the meeting is itemized in there together with the unpleasant discoveries from the resent website.

If there was stuff discussed that was optional, include them and quote for them separately so your prospect has a choice.

Cover Yourself

In your quotation make sure you specify exactly what you are going to do for what fee and that extra pages/functionality will be quoted separately.

Don’t submit the new quote ‘tomorrow’ – leave it a day or two. Chances are, he will be seeing other webbies so get your quote in after theirs JUST after, before he chooses. Otherwise he may use your quote to get a lower quote at a subsequent meeting.

Next Post

What to take to the meeting.

Prospects – First Contact

Know thine prospect! It pays to find out as much as possible about a new prospect before a) you answer him and b) you see him.  This is not possible with . . . 

… the Phone Call

Wow! you’ve got an enquiry!

phoneTypically it’ll be “I’m looking for someone to design a website – do you do that sort of thing?”

Of course we do! But you need some info before you know whether you can really answer the question in the affirmative.

Firstly, listen. Listen to what the prospect is saying. Very little probably – he’s waiting for you. But, you still need some information from him –

  1. What is the prospect’s business (a lot are reluctant)?
  2. Does he already have a website?
  3. If so what does he think the shortcomings are (other than ‘old’)?
  4. How long has he had the site?
  5. If you can, get the developer’s name from him (also reluctant).
  6. What does he expect from the new website (er, updated)?
  7. Does he have any specific requirements or just a general ‘improvement’?

Beware! You get the ‘Our website designer never answers our emails’.

Really?

Lots of reasons for this – he’s rubbish or he’s fed up with his client’s continual amendments. The latter reason is usually because he’s underquoted and not been clear/firm with his client.

The answer is usually the second reason which will tell you that your prospect may be a micromanager and will have paid little for the site (inspecting it will tell you).

… the Email

If you’re lucky, the email may have an attached spec – but that will probably be incomplete however the email is likely to have been written by the guy wanting the site. And, at least you have something in writing.

I get a high number of emails with no contact at all other than the email address. If there is a phone number, ring them and see who it is you’re talking to. You’ll also get a good idea of want they want and they have had the opportunity to talk to you – and you can give them tips over the phone.

Time Wasters

bored-man-300x230Sometimes you’ll get the written equivalent of the phone call – ‘Can you give me price on a website please’.

Someone has been told to get three quotes – ‘Give me a price – any price’ – although they have someone in mind anyway.

Worse you travel 50kms and get – ‘Oh, Brandon has just stepped out’. How interested can he be? He may have delegated but the guy:

  • has no idea what Brandon wanted and
  • couldn’t give a shit.

starYou’ve just wasted two hours that you could have done something else in.

I now try and do some digging on the phone before a site visit is brought up. From the digging I can get some idea of the extent of the prospect’s interest so when it arises I can tell them I’ll see them or that I am too busy but they can come around (subject of another post). I usually get it wrong.

 Is there Already a Website?

badsiteI try and establish if he already has a website – sometimes the prospect will tell you that in the email signature. If he does, I go to it and take a look and appraise the website objectively.

It may be crap but the reason for the crappiness may not be the webbie’s fault. He may have been told to do things the way they are. However, it is possible to see shoddy implementation of standard functionality – which is a webbie problem.

The name of the web designer may be below the footer. It may be hidden so do a Ctrl-A and see if anything magically appears.

The more informed you are before you see a prospect, the better the questions you can put and the more readily you will have how you can help him at your fingertips.

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