Even the most talented web designers must learn how to sell in order to get business. For the majority of designers, however, it’s not a skill that comes easily. Fortunately, selling isn’t the mystical thing that many think it is. Sales is a process which, if followed religiously, will bring in leads and convert some percentage of those leads into clients.
Your specific process will depend on factors such as time and the staff you have available. It might start with some initial research on the prospect’s company, followed by an introductory meeting and needs assessment, then the project proposal, a follow up Q&A, and the signing of the contract. The most important point is to have a process and follow it. And remember that selling is an expected, and valued, part of running a web design business. Designers sometimes feel uncomfortable selling themselves, but without an intentional sales process, many will struggle to bring in new business.
Here are six tips for successfully selling your web design business.
1. Follow Up – Again and Again.
Until you close a deal, or are told by a prospect that they’ve chosen another provider, you need stay in touch with your prospects by following up at each stage of the process. Each time you talk to or meet with a prospect, end with an agreement on when you’ll contact them next. By agreeing on the date, you avoid having to play telephone tag later or feel like you’re chasing the prospect. That said, if a lead needs time to decide, don’t necessarily give up on them. Sometimes a project gets put on the back burner, budgets get sidelined, and other priorities take precedence. You may have a potential clients who seem like a lost cause, but that still come back unexpectedly months later to close the deal.
2. Use Social Media
Setting up shop on Facebook and Twitter is a common, but nonetheless good, thing to do. These tools let you engage with your customers cheaply and easily. Both tools are great for sending out updates while allowing potential customers connect with you, ask questions and provide feedback.
3. Get Involved Locally
Selling is a lot easier when people already know and respect you. So, it’s worthwhile to join local business and community groups, including those in industries in which you work. You can also do volunteer work for local charities, but be careful. Too much free work is a drain on resources.
An ad in a local paper and mailers sent out to areas businesses are tried and true ways to bring in leads. In the age of social media, the right print advertising still works. Even Google sends out mailers on a weekly basis.
5. Ask for Referrals
The biggest driver of most businesses is referrals, so it pays to ask clients for the names of colleagues who would benefit from your web design services. The best time to ask is during the successful launch of your client’s new site, when they’re most excited about your work. Also make it a habit to call clients once a year to see how they’re doing, how the web site is performing, and if they have any friends who need help improving their site. Be sure to get the name and contact information of the referral, rather than letting them pass your name to them. Because you might never hear from “my friend Doug” and will have no way to reach him.
6. Sign Your Work
Work your signature and URL into your designs so that admirers can easily see the creator and contact you. It’s a surprisingly common way to get leads.
Finally, keep in mind that learning how to sell effectively is a topic worthy of long-term study. Go out and buy two or three popular books on the topic for starters. One suggested title I recommend is The Psychology of Sales by Brian Tracy. It might well be worth a few extra clients to you.
Wed, March 26, 2014
by Justin Cowan filed under