I read an interesting article this week directed at freelancers. It gave advice about writing web design proposals. The headline promised ‘7 sections you need to have in your website proposal to win clients’. Four paragraphs into the article the writer goes on to say ‘In this post, we’ll show you the eight sections that every website design proposal must have….’ Call me old fashioned but the first & foremost requirement for me when choosing a web designer would be his/her ATTENTION TO DETAIL, & if they can’t even proof read their own content I’d be inclined to move on and find someone who does. After all, one never gets a second chance to make a first impression, & never more true than with websites. Anyway, 7 or 8, who cares. On this occasion I stuck with it and to be fair, there WAS a lot of sound advice. Most of it would be what I’d call Common Sense B2B Sales Savvy, but then I’m old school, and the post was directed at a younger demographic weaned on ‘collaboration’, mobile phones, and ‘conversations’ without the benefit of my 35 years experience in Direct Sales.
Section 6 I found particularly interesting. It read ‘Before you even start working on your proposal, ask your client what their total budget is’. My ‘old school’ instincts kicked in again; Hackles rose. But not from the point of view of a web designer or salesperson (Am I allowed to use that term these days?), but as a punter. (or that one? 🙂 )
Back in the Eighties, Home Improvement companies got a bad rap, and for good reason, since many of them especially the Double Glazing sector, used questionable sales techniques, and often failed to deliver. Fast forward 40 years and the ‘Creative Industries’ are perceived by many to mirror the Window Sales Brigade from ‘back in the day’…and not to be trusted. Why? Because it’s mostly a young persons’ world & Millennials God bless them, have a tendency to ‘big everything up’, making the most simple things appear complicated. Add a hefty dose of techno-babble and your average Gen-X/Boomer MD, SME Sales Manager or Self Employed trader looking for a website is all too easily hoodwinked into making a wrong & costly choice. Either way. Many of these potential new clients (PNC’s) simply have NO IDEA about costs relating to web design or SEO. And why would they? On the one hand they’ll see Wix advertising ‘beautifully responsive DIY sites that can be made in an hour’ for a couple of hundred quid. On the other hand they’ll know people who’ve spent thousands on sites that have delivered no tangible benefits whatsoever to their unfortunate owners. I’ve seen this for myself in Darlington.
Many years ago I visited an ‘agency’ who wanted £3000 to tweak 2 pages on my first serious website. They also quoted nearly £14000 to make an e-commerce sister site hosting just 50 products. They offered no breakdown of costs, it was basically ‘Take it or Leave it’. I chose the latter option. At the time I was knocking round with a number of multi-millionaires in London who’d all made fortunes online. None of them used digital agencies or do to this day; instead they learned to do everything ‘in house’ as I have done myself. Instead of parting with £17,000 to tweak a couple of pages and make a simple e-com site, I used the cash to learn web development; to be fair it took a ton of time too. Nevertheless, within 6 months of visiting the agency in Darlington I had that one site at the top of Google, by myself, and it’s still there today, 6 years on. I remember arriving at the offices, being ushered into a grand boardroom & then kept waiting; eventually an affable young guy came down to ‘interview me’ and to find out my needs with regard to Web Design. I distinctly recall him asking at the outset ‘What is your Budget?’. Alarm bells rang & I sidestepped the question. Why? Because all too often companies like this will take advantage. If your budget is high they’ll take you to the cleaners. If it’s low, they won’t bother their ass.
Unbeknown to this young fellow, I had plenty of cash having just sold a business in London. But the ‘What is your Budget?’ line blew it for me. I spent the next 4 years learning web development and I’m still learning today. Onward & Upward. That is one of the big problems with this trade. It’s a fast changing environment, and you’ll come across a good number of developers too busy working ‘in the trade’ and not finding the time to work ‘at the trade’ keeping abreast of new trends. I employed a graduate developer with 20+ years experience, and found myself having to tell her about things I would have thought any developer would have known. indemandonline is run by a Business Person for Business People. We don’t put ourselves out there as ‘trendy creatives’ but rather as ordinary business folk focusing online to bring in sales leads, the lifeblood of any firm. If some-one doesn’t know their budget, that isn’t to say they’re shallow, stupid or not worth bothering with; it just means they’re quite probably experts at something else. True they might have an unrealistic expectation as to what Websites cost. It’s our job to take them by the hand and to educate them, and if they don’t have a lot of cash, to stay with them and start small. Baby steps. Building a website for a client isn’t a one off (or at least it shouldn’t be!). It’s the start of a fruitful relationship not least because a successful site (by which I mean one that brings in customers 24/7) needs CONSTANT WORK to keep it where it should be. Websites and SEO are classic examples of where the Japanese Kaizen approach pays off. Kaizen refers to activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO down. ‘What is your Budget?’ is a question skilled salespeople know better than to ask. Instead they will discover with reasonable accuracy what a client’s budget might be through careful dialogue, then proceed to enlighten the prospect as to what is feasible. Even a relatively small ‘budget’ can be worth pursuing; after all the mighty oak grows from a single acorn….something all too often forgotten in today’s Digital World.