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  1. #26
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by R3DL1N3
    There is another thread going at the moment about the lack of respect in the web development and design industry, and one thing all professional designers and developers need to ensure is that they appear professional in everything they do with and for their prospects and clients, and this will vary location to location.
    There was, but it got locked.

  2. #27
    SitePoint Enthusiast morgy's Avatar
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    firstly I want to say that I'm a girl
    does that make things more complicated? hehe

    now, taking into consideration what you all guys said about appearence I'll quote the following..
    Quote Originally Posted by R3DL1N3
    It is important to appear professional, and this comes across not just in what you say and the way you listen to the prospect, but also the way you dress. As stated above, you don't need to wear a suit to look professional in a business meeting. It is all about context. Wearing a suit in Florida, by the sounds of it is silly, as it's not suitable in the context of Floridian weather. Where I come from, you could wear a suit, doesn't have to be a designer suit, trousers, business shirt, tie and maybe a jacket are acceptable, as is business casual. I've gone to business meetings myself in trousers business shirt (longsleeve of course) and tie, and I've also conducted business meetings in casual...lightweight trousers (all my trousers are made of microfibre, which is lightweight and breathes easily which is good in the heat of our Australian summers) and a business polo shirt, as that was suitable for the context.

    Look at where you're meeting your client. Is it at your office or his? A business cafe or a business luncheon? Dress to suit. Not to impress your prospect, but to maintain a professional look and attitude. There is another thread going at the moment about the lack of respect in the web development and design industry, and one thing all professional designers and developers need to ensure is that they appear professional in everything they do with and for their prospects and clients, and this will vary location to location. What is acceptable business attire in New York is probably different to London, or Rome, or here in little ol' Tamworth Australia.
    ... I want to add that I'm in – rainy atm- Greece and we are meeting at his office. I also want to add that I've seen the man before. I was dressed casual with a simple skirt, a nice casual top and my flat boots. You can say it was a nice casual outfit. I think that I’ll stick to that but in a more elegant way.

    It wasn't quite a meeting but more of a "hello, I'm *morgy* and I can offer you my services" - "great when can we meet to discuss it?" - "Friday at 6.30" - "ok".
    You see I have a friend there that recommended me. He also said that they don't know much about internet. That can be a good thing and a bad thing.

    Unfortunately Internet here is underrated. Most middle-class companies don't have a website and they actually don't want one because it's going to "cost" them money. And those who decide to make a website they want to do it as cheap as possible. Thus, many websites suck in terms of content and style and they seems as if they popped up from the previous decade :P
    Anyway, I’m getting off topic but that’s something I want to discuss so a new topic it’s on its way

    So I guess if I plan carefully my questions, do a little research of their business area and dress in a business casual way, I’m going to be just fine and ready for success!
    That positive thinking is working

  3. #28
    SitePoint Enthusiast morgy's Avatar
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    oh and I forgot
    Quote Originally Posted by cdndesignz
    Ah yes.. this is another pitfall I've run into. You ask them for a site that they like, and they point you to their main local competitor, and say they really like THEIR site and it seems to work, so they'd like theirs to be like Joe's.

    You do a layout, changing the colors, changing things a bit, making it all your own code not actually copying the other site just making the elements a bit similar and then send them the sample - and they say "no, it doesn't look enough like Joe's - pls change this, this and this (the things you deliberately changed to avoid looking too much like Joe's in the first place!)...
    hehe, I know exactly what you mean as I have personal experience on that.
    that case I described earlier where I made layouts again and again was because of that.

  4. #29
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Besides acting professional I usually rely on two things:

    1) Listen, and don´t overload the client with info about your company. Let him speak. Then you learn more about his situation and is far better positioned to add value to his business.

    2) Share relevant information: I always try to give small pieces of advice in all interactions with the prospect. I make sure that it´s relevant to their business and adds value. I´m not afraid to give too much information, because there is a very long way between having information and putting it to practical use. I.e. the client may know what is needed to do after you shared your information, but he doesn´t know how to execute it, because that ability comes with experience.

    Here´s an example from when I was the client:

    We went to a lawyer that we wanted to hire. He gave us a lot of information during that first meeting for free. At the end of the meeting he gave each of us a book with more than 500 pages and said: Here is everything you need to know, without using a lawyer.

    What happened? We read the interesting parts of the book, and became his client. He had delivered so much value during those 30 minutes that we where convinced that he was worth his weight in gold. And because of the book we´ve become better informed clients, that can ask more intelligent questions. That´s a win for both him and us.
    George Skee
    Follow me at GeorgeSkee.com

  5. #30
    SitePoint Enthusiast morgy's Avatar
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    That's an interesting point. It's like I'm helping them to understand about websites (since they don't know much) and what I can and will do to help them?

  6. #31
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    Just wanted to say this is a cracking thread, with plenty of solid advice here. I particularly like the original comments from jamieharrop. Well done everyone.

  7. #32
    SitePoint Enthusiast Chris Auman's Avatar
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    I've been designing sites since 1996 and have tried a lot of different things over the years. What I've found useful:

    1) Guage the scope of the project. Get them to think through the sections of the site (how many) and nail down the exact wording of the navigation. This doesn't have to be finished at the first meeting but it's ideal to nail it down 99% if possible. From there, use your experience to help them organize and simplify the navigation structure and plan for expansion in the future.

    2) Plan on ways to upsell. I'm not saying that you should push something on them they don't need. Part of your job is to help them properly utilize a website so come to the meeting armed with some suggestions they may not know about. An example is a permission marketing/newsletter system. Maybe a password protected area on the site where internal employees can share documents and get company news. (cost cutting measures) These are just two simple examples but your job is to help them leverage the power of the internet. Do your job. Don't JUST listen to the client. Offer your advice and expert options and it will go a long way to showing you're the guy/gal for the gig.

    I find these two items to be most useful in nailing down a basic proposal. If you can estimate a ballpark idea for what you'd like to charge for a custom design, a price per page (average), hosting, set-up fees, add-on products/services, and ongoing maintenance, you'll be able to comfortably quote them a ballpark range. Most clients appreciate this and it will help you 1) get them to commit on the spot and 2) save you from hours of proposal writing without a commitment.

    One last thing. I agree with others on the fact that you should try to get a commitment before writing a proposal. A lot of clients love to gather a bunch of proposals, compare them, steal from others ideas and then choose the cheapest. Don't give them this opportunity if possible. Do what you can to show your talents and ability to get the job done at the meeting. Spend time working through their needs and have some basic products and ideas in your back pocket to upsell them. From this you should be able to give them a ballpark range on the price right there on the spot and close the deal.

    As others have said, be careful on quoting a price. Obviously my advice is more geared toward a simple brochure site. If the project is more complex, you might have no other choice than to gather the information, think through it, write a proposal and hope for the best.

    Hope this helps.

  8. #33
    SitePoint Mentor bronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Auman
    As others have said, be careful on quoting a price. Obviously my advice is more geared toward a simple brochure site. If the project is more complex, you might have no other choice than to gather the information, think through it, write a proposal and hope for the best.
    I've found that unless you've been specifially approached via an 'RFP' (request for proposal, which I avoid like the plague), it's still not necessary to create a detailed proposal for even a complex project, not before you've actually been given the job and certainly not for free.

    The last few big projects I worked on (£30K+), I was paid for the entire proposal creation process (via a preliminary agreement and advanced retainer) - once that was completed (took several days per project), we signed the full contract for carrying out the work in that proposal/project specification. No decent client is going to expect you to spend days creating a highly detailed proposals for them on the off-chance that they may give you the project - this is no different to prospects asking you to create designs for them just to prove how good you are - it's taking the mickey - just look at my portfolio, check my references, look at my case studies, don't expect me to work for free just to prove myself.

    I've found that whatever the project size, you should be able to secure the contract via phone or face-to-face meetings and at most, a 1 page executive summary if something is required in writing - and for a complex project, I rarely provide a set-in-stone price, as an estimate is usually more than adequate. The last thing anyone should do (IMO) is get in a situation where they are agreeing to write a detailed proposal and 'hope for the best' - generally avoid such low probability-win situations and stick to the high probability stuff.

    If you are not able to convince prosepctive clients that you are the man for the job without having to resort to heavy proposals and working for free, re-assess your sales techniques - are you showing your client you understnad their problems, have you shown them via previous work that you are more than capable of helping them, have you backed up your promises with testimonials and referrences, are you talking to the decision maker, and most importantly, are you trying to close the sale or bottling it?

  9. #34
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    However, what should I do if they say “uhm, no this is why we are hiring you”.
    Should I just start making layouts by my head? What if they don’t like anything?
    If I understand correctly, this is the kind of customer who wants a website "just because" and don't really know what to do with it, and how they want it.

    In this cases, AVOID EARLY PROPOSALS as plague, or the website will grow while you work with continuous new ideas and remakes, while the proposal will be there, with price and all.

    Do some homework BEFORE.

    If you customer is - let's say - a hotel, prepare a list of abt 5 sites of similarly-sized hotels that you find well done, and be prepared to say what is well done in each of them.

    Idem, prepare a list of 5 bad examples (hideous graphics, bad navigation, oversized or undersized sites etc.)

    Then, when at the customer, (but you need to have some time with him) walk him through your examples, give him advice and listen to his feedback. This must be done on all aspects of the site's project (will the site be modern in look or classic? what colours will it have? will it have a full-fledged reservation system?)

    This will help him making decisions and being a little bit more informed. It will take you some time, but with "I don't know" customers it's worth while.

    Also, decide your workflow and carefully explain it to the customer. As an example:
    1) today, based on our conversation, we will prepare a list on specifications (menu like www.example.com but darker, contacts page like www.another.com but with a detailed map on how to get to you etc., reservation system like this and that)
    2) in 2-3 days I will be able to quote an exact price for the work
    3) after your agreement and payment of a 35% advance, I will prepare 3 mock-ups of the website graphics and functions
    4) you will select one of the mock-ups and will be able to request for some changes.
    5) I will do the changes, and we can get back to 4) until you approve the project
    6) (be sure to have a final version approved)
    7) I will code the site and build it in X days
    (details on final version and payments)

    please be aware that changes to the layout or functionalities of the site made after point 6) will be difficoult and quite expensive to make (i.e. let him know that non-trivial last-minute changes just because he changes his mind are not free)

    Finally - and I know this will seem ridiculous to most of you - explain them that if they have a website they MUST read their email at least everyday, or they will actually be losing contacts (people that write an email instead of phoning and never get a reply)

  10. #35
    SitePoint Enthusiast morgy's Avatar
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    great tips frox, thank you very much.

    I'll do that 5 good, 5 bad examples.
    I don't think they have seen sites from competitors or anything related so something like that would make things a bit clearer.

    and about your last point, concerning the email, I'm 100% with you and somehow i sense that they haven't even considered the fact of checking their email, daily!

  11. #36
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    Wow - what a terrific thread! So many great comments and suggestions. I definitely agree with Robert Warren regarding the whole suit thing. I would do that only when absolutely necessary - dress for the situation. If down the line you are doing a website for say a rock band, I doubt you would want to show up at the first meeting in a full suit (unless that is the band's look anyway ). I am not saying show up in ripped up jeans either but people tend to feel more comfortable and willing to listen around others they feel a commonality with. With a first meeting that commonality is usually appearance.

    I am relatively new to the web design thing (compared to others here at sitepoint), my career started with GIS and financial systems for corporations but when it comes down to it fundamentally you need to take the same strategy - what does the client/prospect need? Chances are they don't care or know about the inner workings of AJAX or CSS layout vs. Table layout. Always keep in mind that the reasons for the site are business related.

    Be as active a listener as possible - most clients/prospects (the ones you want to work with anyway) notice this. Also, make sure you do whatever homework you can on the prospect.

    At the same time be alert to people who are trying to get something for nothing - or next to nothing. You can usually weed them out with a solid well defined contract.

    Good Luck!

  12. #37
    SitePoint Addict Jamieharrop's Avatar
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    This is a something quick that I like to always keep in mind...

    I already know what my prospect wants from her Web site. She wants to make more money. What I need to ask her is not what she wants, but how she wants to get it.

    Even those clients who say they want a pretty Web site know that what they really want is to increase their profit by having a Web site.

    If you lay out to the client how you are going to make them $X,XXX in the next X months, after Web site costs, you are a long way towards sealing the deal.

    A Web site should be an investment, not an expense.
    Regards,
    Jamie Harrop

  13. #38
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    I don't think you being a woman changes much. You still need to dress professionally. Is it humid as well as rainy? That they don't have much knowledge of the internet can be both a boon and a curse.

  14. #39
    Non-Member the baldchemist's Avatar
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    Y'know. Ask yourself, how did I get to "pitch" for the job in the first place? There was something about you or your work that convinced the boss of this company to give you his/her very valuable time. Right?
    Now, it's all very well getting the business. Producing a site is easy for most these days if it's not too complicated. but most of the sites I've seen look OK and that's very subjective but they are totally lacking in great " calls to action content!
    Creating a site is about getting calls to action from the reader to at some stage BUY!!!
    Flash images and all the other bulshit detract from the message.
    Learn to write clear and compelling creative copy.
    In regard to your meeting, take control. Research your "client before you meet. find out what they need to achieve. There is a great 30-40 questions further up( well done), but dont for Christ's sake sit and ask them like a questionaire. Ease them in with a nice steady flow of chat.
    Your client will expect two or three meetings to "seek out" and sort his problem, 'cause your going to find one and your going to come up with a solution !
    Dont be in too much of a hurry to get the business. Do the take away. If you dont know what the take away is then find out quick. It's the best sales tool you will ever have. Take your time. ( within reason). Keep in contact let him/ her know that you are working on a few solutions and that you will get back at 9-30 on Tuesday with some "wonderful" solutions. Then make sure that you do! Great web-sites are not [all up front] but consist of a series of pitches that lead to a series of closes and final action to "buy".
    Dont be piecemeal. Create your live pitch the way you will create you clients site!
    And dont forget "the take away". Always hint at something that your client CANT have for the budget he has. Y'know what? They will demand it!
    One other thing to remember. Women and men are different when it comes to negotiation. Women will have researched very thoroughly prior to your meeting. Her budget she will protect with her life. You have to have a bloody good pitch to get a woman to reach over her budget.
    Men on the other hand, enjoy the power game of negotiation and are a lot more flexible when it comes to getting something special under negotiation.
    But ask the questions and dont be scared! You are after all the best in the business? If you make that statement make sure you can back it up.
    I look forward to hearing the outcome. Go for it. The baldchemist (FONT=Tahoma)xxx(FONT)

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Warren
    Heh.. definitely depends on context.

    Back when I first started doing client meetings, I was positively neurotic about how I'd be judged based on how I dressed, so I wore suits and nice ties and the whole shebang to each of the few meetings I had. In the process, I learned a few things.

    For one, unless it's in the middle of January or you're going to court, wearing a suit in a hot, humid climate (like Florida) is just nuts. It's too damned hot and uncomfortable and that shows, even in air conditioning. That's why most business here - again, outside of banks and courts - tends to be conducted in business casual dress: khakis, lightweight cotton pressed shirts with open collars. Unless you're a woman, people look at you oddly here if you walk into a meeting wearing a suit.. there seems to be a natural tendency to expect women to overdress for meetings, I've noticed. An overdressed man here just comes off as a slickster.

    The big-boy-dress-up game stopped for me when I took a meeting with a prospect that did event management for the big area hotels, about a large website/brochure combo project. I walked into the meeting dressed very sharply, and the president and marketing manager were both in business casual. They proceeded to waste about two hours of my time. At one point, the president actually complained about image-driven marketing people who didn't focus enough on business fundamentals - making a brief allusion to my designer tie in the process. That was the last time I even wore a tie into a meeting.

    It is possible to overdress. These days, years later, my goal in an in-person meeting (which thankfully, only happen a few times a year - most of my clients are spread all over the country) is to attract the least amount of attention to my clothes as possible. Simple, clean, appropriate, comfortable. And then spend the meeting hitting business fundamentals as hard as I possibly can. If I'm going to sell them, it's going to be with what I say, not what I wear.

    Of course, YMMV. Context and all.
    Valid point there. (I always like reading your posts by the way).
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  16. #41
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    morgy, best luck with your meeting and please keep us updated!

  17. #42
    SitePoint Enthusiast morgy's Avatar
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    Thanks a lot frox and everyone.
    Every single post - and I mean that - gives valuable advice for everyone that is a fresh on the scene like I am.
    And of course I will keep you updated
    I will meet with him tomorrow and I must say, I feel much more confident after all this reading here!

  18. #43
    SitePoint Enthusiast Swankie's Avatar
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    First thing you need to do is relax! Second, begin by asking questions about his/her business - that's the easiest way to break the ice. Third, listen, listen, listen. If you do this, you will be in top 90 percent of sales people.

  19. #44
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    Indeed. This thread is outstanding.

    I'm hoping to book my first "big" client within the next week or so. All this advice is sure to come in handy.
    No, I REALLY dislike having to use Joomla.

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by frox
    morgy, best luck with your meeting and please keep us updated!
    Hey! This is my thread!
    Anyways, thanks for all of the great tips. Everything has gave solid advice and it really helps out in one way or another. I have also been reading some of the sitepoint articles which are helpful as well.

    My appointment is tomorrow as well as morgys, best of luck to you girl....lets seal the deal!

  21. #46
    You Bet Your Life...Really lerxtjr's Avatar
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    I don't think I read every post, but of the ones I did read, there was no mention of "choosing" your client instead of "selling" them on your services.

    People want to be part of a company or design business or development group that is popular and in demand. Even if it's your first paying account, you need to relay to the prospect that time is short and you need to be very careful about the clients/projects you take on and that you are evaluating their project to make sure it is a good fit for your skill focus at the same time they are evaluating you.

    Approach a meeting like this and you will stand out among the crowd. If it doesn't sound like a good fit, tell them! And, you'll be surprised when they say "What do we have to do to get you to accept our project?"

    Always be in control of the sales process I guess is my point.

  22. #47
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    robotic, you are quite right!
    best luck to you too!

    and lerxtjr, that's a good point too.

  23. #48
    SitePoint Member Rubel Creative's Avatar
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    Wow looks like you've got some good advice. I haven't had time to read it all but just be yourself
    Rubel Creative - Be Creative.

  24. #49
    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lerxtjr
    Approach a meeting like this and you will stand out among the crowd. If it doesn't sound like a good fit, tell them! And, you'll be surprised when they say "What do we have to do to get you to accept our project?"

    Always be in control of the sales process I guess is my point.
    I think there needs to be a comfortable middle ground. Played badly, the "why should I take you as a client?" game only comes off as arrogant and antagonizing; the established names know right off the bat that they have the natural upper hand. That's a given going into the meeting. You can neutralize it into equality, but you'll never get the upper hand yourself, because they're holding the purse strings and they don't absolutely need you.

    The sales process shouldn't be a control game, IMO. You should definitely strive to maintain the balance of power - you can certainly be too passive - but the real goal is to figure out if it's a good fit all the way around. Rather than "buy me!" and "convince me to buy you!", it should be more like, "will this purchase be good for everyone around this table, or a mistake we'll all later come to regret?"

    Folks also usually respond better to that line of attack. It puts them at ease because, at that point, it's not about one side trying to screw the other before they get screwed - it's just a group of professionals sitting around a table talking shop. "Either/or" thinking only betrays a lack of experience and confidence.

  25. #50
    SitePoint Addict Jamieharrop's Avatar
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    I couldn't have put it better myself, Robert.

    Whether we seal the contract or not, I always send out a survey to the prospect to see how we performed during the pre-sale process. It's surprising how many times people comment on how impressed they were with my "lack of push and shove" in the meetings. They are pleased to be able to speak with me as a real human, rather than a salesman who feels like all he is after is the prospects money.

    I like to get involved in my prospects business. Meet at the prospects offices if possible. Ask for a tour of their premises. Show a desire to help their business grow. Even order one of their products if you have to. There is nothing better than turning up to a meeting with one of their products in your briefcase.

    Be a real person, and not a money grabbing salesman.
    Regards,
    Jamie Harrop


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