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  1. #1
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    How do you do your presentation?

    Hi ladies and gentlemen,

    I'm curious to know what do you think is a better way to do your presentation to new clients?

    I will often turn up for the meeting with a folder of blank papers and a pen. Jot down the notes and discuss with the clients what they want. Prepare the proposal and project cost at home, email them and call them up to let them know the proposal is sent.

    I feel something is missing to make an impact. Do I really have to get a laptop along to do a flash presentation of my services?

    What's your preferred way or suggested way to do a presentation?

    Thanks for any input in advance.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard johntabita's Avatar
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    A presentation is about convincing, not consulting. The only thing I add to what you're already doing is a list of prepared questions to ask. Most often, I find that it's the type of questions I ask that impresses the prospect the most. It shows I have an understanding about how business works, not just about web design.

  3. #3
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    I take a laptop so I can show them examples of my work, specifically content management systems. I think most of my prospects would not be too impressed if I had some Flash presentation prepared for them, they'd see it as me trying to be a 'slick' salesman.

    Rather than go home and draw up a proposal, why not try to close the sale at that initial meeting? Are your prospects asking you to draw up a proposal, or are you offering one up as a matter of course? You'd be surprised how many contracts you can win simply by asking for the job at the end of a meeting - this will save you a heap of wasted time drawing up unnecessary proposals.

    If you can't close the sale there and then, make sure you get firm commitments from a client on the next step If you do feel the need to draw up proposals, don't just send them off and hope for the best, instead arrange to meet the propsect to go through the proposal with them in person and try to close the sale at this meeting instead.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Evangelist bronze trophy Derek Sheppard's Avatar
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    I used to take a laptop (how could I be a cool technology guy without one?) but now I don't. I found that with the laptop and a presentation, I 1) sounded rehearsed and scripted, 2) paid more attention to fooling with the equipment than to what the client was saying, and 3) looked and felt like an idiot when the inevitable computer glitches occured - which they would no matter how many tests I ran or back up plans I made.

    I now take a nice leather folio with a blank pad of graph paper, and a few printed pieces of marketing collateral. If a computer is needed, I use the client's, and I have demo systems set up so I can show backend work, if needed.

    I haven't noticed a difference in my success rate, but by the time I go for the meeting, I usually have the job - so in my case it almost always is consulting, not convincing. At that point the job is mine if I don't screw up. And the laptop was more a hinderence for me than a help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Sheppard
    looked and felt like an idiot when the inevitable computer glitches occured - which they would no matter how many tests I ran or back up plans I made.
    Oh yes, that sounds very familiar. I remember having to frantically re-install MySQL at one meeting a couple of years ago; I didn't get the contract.

  6. #6
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    I always have a list of questions that I need to ask the client. As a reminder, but also as a way to show the client that I understand his needs. Most of the time, however, when I meet with some prospect, the deal is probably done. I've never met with some without closing the deal, as going to the prospect is mainly for defining and consulting.

    M

  7. #7
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    Well, if you go to meet with them face to face to ask questions why are you not also presenting the proposal face to face? That's the most critical time IMHO, because that's when they make the decision to buy or not.

    For all local clients I go meet with them, usually at their place of business. I have a padfolio - just a leather portfolio w/ a legal pad inside. I take that and my nice leather planner and that's it - no technology. I sit down with them and usually have some questions already written up on the first page of my legal pad. This lets them know I'm prepared for the meeting. We talk for about an hour, me asking questions and answering theirs.

    After the initial consultation I'll usually quickly reiterate what I've gathered so I can make sure I've got it right, then I leave to prepare the proposal, or preliminary estimates. If it's a medium to small sized project I'll just go ahead and create the proposal and setup a meeting to go back and present it. If it's a large project I may need to go in for additional information as it's much more involved. In those cases I usually get some kind of retainer for the planning process.

    When I give the proposal I still only have a padfolio and my planner. I take in copies of the proposal/contract for everyone and we sit down and I just go over every part of it. My proposal covers their current situation, their goals, the results we'll be shooting for, how we'll achieve those results (what's included in the proposal), pricing information and references.

    At the end of the meeting about 85% sign the contract on the spot and hand me a check for the deposit. Occasionally, I'll have to change something and reprint, so we'll meet up in a day or two. I've gotten my process so that I sign roughly 90-95% of the jobs for which I actually deliver a proposal (face to face). I prequalify the potential clients through the entire process and if there is a reason they wouldn't go for it (price/budget, time frame, etc.) I try to get that out in the open right away.

    Now compare that figure to clients abroad... clients in other states and overseas are much harder to land. I usually provide all the consultation over the phone, and email a PDF version of the proposal. I'll call shortly after to go over the proposal on the phone. Still, I only sign about 65% of the proposals I put out to out of town clients. That's a big difference! I attribute it to the fact that they can't meet me face to face, and I'm not sitting there to give them the proposal and really epxlain to them how we can help them - how we can help them acheive their goals.

    So I'd definitely recommend you at least give the proposals face to face... I can almost guarantee you'll sign more contracts that way.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the valuable tips guys! I always emailed the proposals because I think that gives them time to read through the agreement, the project scope, consider the cost.. and let them truly consider if they accept mine.. now looks like I made a wrong step. But I find it funny to present the proposal to them and going through with them line by line.. and especially the agreement/Terms and Conditions part.. they will take some time to read it and at that time, what should I do? Should I read out to them or pretend I'm writing or calculating something related to the project?

    shadowbox> Very often, I offered to do a proposal and a run down of the project cost. When you said that you closed the deal on the first meeting rather than writing a proposal after that, how do you estimate the project cost on the spot? do you prepared a general acceptance form for the client to sign on the spot? And followed up by a formal agreement?

    webnology> I wish I have the skills and techniques that you have when clinching deals. I have confidence in my skills but I don't have that much of a confidence when doing presentation and pitching the deal..

    I'm always concerned with the client's budget.. is there a nice and tactful way to ask for the budget on the first meet up? or is it important to know the budget or is it rude and unprofessional to ask the budget?

    Thanks guys for sharing!

  9. #9
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    I actually explain each section in the Terms and Conditions. It gives me the opportunity to explain why each section is both beneficial to me and the client. I explain how they own the rights after the final payment is received, how the confidentiality clause works and that I won't disclose any of their information to any other companies, etc. It usually works out much better that way, because they don't get apprehensive about a bunch of legal text wondering what it means.

  10. #10
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    About budgets - I always try to get a decent idea of what they're looking for then I start talking about budgets. If the site's going to be expensive, I mention it might range from $X,XXX to $Y,YYY just to make sure they don't freak out. Typically I highball it so my proposal comes back closer to the low number, or even lower. That way they're never surprised at the quote, but they had realistic expectations before we gave the proposal.

    There's nothing worse than sticker shock - if they're expecting $500 just from ignorance and you quote $5,000 it doesn't much matter if they like you or you're worth it, they're probably not going to sign. It's much easier to just talk about it frankly up front than play the guessing game. That's not saying they'll always offer up budget estimates. I don't much really care what their budget is, so long as they can afford what they want. I try to get an idea of what they want/need and just tell them the range they could expect to pay.

    If we're really off base with their budget - they'll tell us. And if they do, we know to talk about what things cost, and discuss scaling back the project to fit their budget or we can just end the discussion right there. There's no need to go further if they can't or don't want to pay what it's worth.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by orangecabbage
    shadowbox> Very often, I offered to do a proposal and a run down of the project cost. When you said that you closed the deal on the first meeting rather than writing a proposal after that, how do you estimate the project cost on the spot? do you prepared a general acceptance form for the client to sign on the spot? And followed up by a formal agreement?

    I'm always concerned with the client's budget.. is there a nice and tactful way to ask for the budget on the first meet up? or is it important to know the budget or is it rude and unprofessional to ask the budget?
    It depends on project complexity. If it's a simple project, I give then a pretty exact price there and then, otherwise I will give them an indication of costs. I would have already given a very broad range of possible costs over the phone (e.g. 5000-10,000) , but at the end of the meeting I would have narrowed this down somewhat (e.g. 7000-8000).

    At this meeting I will also ask about budget and explain that many aspects of the development can cost as much as they want it to cost, so I need to know what kind of budget they have put aside so I can assess the level of complexity I can offer in relation to the results they require.

    It's important to find out budget and certainly not something to be embarrassed about asking. Remember, you've gone out of your way to visit these people, no doubt half a day out of your schedule, so you've not got time to be messing about trying to guess budgets. Budget is one of the most important specifications of any project as it limits the solution you can provide the client - if you don't know what they have to spend, then how can you come up with a tailored proposal for them?

    As to having a preliminary agreement, yes this is something I have dabbled with, again it depneds on complexity. If you read some of my posts around this forum you'll see that I rarely write any proposal for free, instead I expect clients to pay for the consultation time leading to the creation of such a document, so at the end of the initial (free) meeting, if the project is suitably complex I will ask them to pay an initial retainer to cover the estimated consulting time required.

    On the other hand, if it's a simple project, I'll just whip up a 1 page Project specification, bolt on my Terms of Service and arrange to meet up the next day for signing and deposit payment.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Enthusiast jonoxer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by orangecabbage
    I'm always concerned with the client's budget.. is there a nice and tactful way to ask for the budget on the first meet up? or is it important to know the budget or is it rude and unprofessional to ask the budget?
    It's critical to come to a mutual understanding of price expectations early on, often in the very first contact you have with them (the first phone call, or whatever) because people have such wildly varying expectations. It's pretty normal to receive initial "can you do X, Y and Z?" type inquiries from different people and have their expectations of the price vary from $500 to $50k.

    I always ask up front "Do you have a budget allocated to this project yet?". No need to be ashamed of the question, it's just one of the parameters of the project. They're not buying a carton of milk - they're undertaking a serious project with a wide variety of variables and it's your job to help them clarify what that project will entail. One of the most critical variables is how much they have to spend. Don't pussy-foot around or be apologetic about mentioning a supposedly "taboo" subject, be up-front about it.

    A previous poster mentioned sticker-shock, and I agree with the comment. If the prospect still doesn't have any idea what the approximate project cost is going to be by the time they receive a formal proposal you're going about it the wrong way. You need to know their budget expectations *before* you start writing a proposal.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Enthusiast jonoxer's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, another thought: several posters have mentioned that taking along a laptop to see clients is fraught with danger. I agree with that: I've done it in the past, but it's often a pain because many of the things I want to show them are online and it's more trouble than it's worth stuffing around trying to connect a laptop at their premises to use their net connection. Much easier to just use their computer if required, but most of the time you don't even need that: a leather binder, a notepad, a pen, and being ready to listen and discuss their business requirements are the critical elements. Spend as much time as possible exploring *their* business rather than talking about yours.

    On the other hand, I always try to have at least one meeting with each new client at our office rather than theirs and that's when we lay on the high-tech show: our office was custom built with our primary server room right next to the meeting room and big windows so they can see all the racks of servers and bundles of cable and blinking lights, and we have a 92cm hi-res LCD in the meeting room for doing live demonstrations. Much more impressive than a projector and it's so big you can easily read text from the other end of the room. Basically the meeting at our office is a chance to show them that we're "for real", and give them the technical tour-de-force that reassures them that we really know what we're talking about. And because it's in a controlled environment it's much less likely that something will go wrong.

  14. #14
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    Thanks greatly guys! I've learnt alot from your valuable input.

    I'm going to try a new approach to pitch a deal. I always taken the route to email them and often they never get back.

    I've another question.. the method works for prospects who are interested to find out more about your services and prospects who are looking for your services. What about for those prospects(the big clients in the industry) that you would like to offer your services to?

    They have not heard about you nor you know what they are looking for, you would just like to offer your services to them because you know they need your services, but they have engaged someone else to do it. You know.... the big clients whom you know they constantly need packaging design, promotional design...etc.

    How do you guys go about preparing the proposals and pitching your deals? Is the best approach be calling up to the person in charge and arranging an appointment? Or its best to just email them about your services? Or you just submit a cover of your portfolio and let them know what services you are providing and they can get back to you if they are interested? The dilemma I have is for such prospects/deals I wouldn't know what they are looking for exactly so what is the best way to submit a proposal?
    Simply tell them your rates in your proposal?

    Any advice on that?

  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    I don't just try to pitch companies I've never had any relationship with. It's like playing roulette. Sure, you could get lucky and win the jackpot, but the odds are you'll just be wasting your time.

    The only exception is if you develop a solution to a key problem faced by a particular industry. Marketing that solution to the companies in that industry could be very lucrative.

    It takes several interactions with a prospective client for them to trust you enough to even open up about their particular problems, much less hire you. I don't think there are too many huge clients won by just sending an email or letter, or even making a phone call. Instead, focus your time and energy on finding clients that are much easier to land.

    Network. Ask for referrals from current clients and colleagues. Join the Chamber of Commerce, networking groups, maybe even a service league. Get out there in your community and be seen. You could even write articles or speak at events... building your reputation as an expert in your field. This will establish you as an expert, and will lead to far more new clients than cold calling random companies.

    BTW, check out Andrew Neitlich's blog here at SP, and read his IT Business Acceleration Manual - it's got just the information you're looking for.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard LeoWebDesign's Avatar
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    I also meet with them face to face to present the proposal whenever possible. That way I can "guide" them through it and answer any questions we go. It allows me to elaborate much more on the how much and what I do. Sometimes my relatively short proposals make it look easy! One other important thing that I didn't see anybody else mention is to have a contract with you and ready to sign. If you have one there is a much better chance you will leave there with a deposit check.

    I don't use a laptop for initial consultations, but I sometimes take one with me just to look more "legit". It might sound pretentious, but that's the way it is.


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