So you put on your suit, arrived on time, and made an irresistible pitch (accompanied by a very reasonable quote). You knocked the socks off your potential client, and left their office knowing they loved you.
Dutifully, you called them as arranged to see what they’d decided to do with the project…
"Thanks, we appreciate your time… but we just don’t have the money to be able go ahead with this right now."
You’re shocked. You know you impressed them, and you’ve quoted a rock-bottom price as it is. You want the job, but you can’t go any lower on the quote. What do you do?
When ‘No’ Means ‘Yes’
Firstly, congratulations on getting the "No"! At least you’re now in the position to get a "Yes". A "No" is much better than sitting at home twiddling your thumbs.
My business builds Websites, and I’d say that 90% of clients will mention at some stage during the project’s initial discussions that they have very little, or no money. Why? Because everyone wants a good deal. The simple fact is that most potential clients think if they tell you they have no money, you’ll be less likely to over-quote for the job.
But let’s not be too cynical! Let’s take a look at what the prospect said as though it’s the truth: they genuinely can’t afford the cost of the project.
If this is what the client honestly believes, you have two basic options:
- Lower your price
- Don’t lower your price
I’ll give you a strategy for both courses of action.
Option 1: Lower Your Price
Don’t lower your price unless you take something of value away from the prospect. For example, tell them:
"To meet your budget requirements and still deliver a site of the highest quality, we’ll need to remove this bit of functionality here. This particular part isn’t critical to your business objectives," etc.
You really do need to know what their budget is here, otherwise you could be taking another blind stab in the dark and wasting your time. So send them a quick email along the lines of:
Thank you so much for the opportunity to present a proposal for the development of your Website. I did appreciate your kind words – we take great pride in providing a quality service and I’m thrilled you recognised that.
The business you have is ideally suited to the Web and I want to assist you taking full advantage of that. Would you possibly be able to provide me with an idea of your budget so I can revisit my quote to see if we can provide a great solution at the right price?"
Option 2: Don’t Lower Your Price
Review the project and see if you can’t break it into phases. Create a proposal that outlines the functionality you’ll include in each phase of the project, and a proposed timeline for delivery of the first (and maybe some subsequent) part/s. Then present this to your client, discussing in detail the implementation of Phase 1 to emphasise the lower initial budget outlay, and the corresponding benefits.
When we quote on jobs, we often provide 2 quotes: one at the lower end of the spectrum, and one with the lot. The client almost always takes the higher quote as they hate to think they’re missing out on anything!
Justifying The Quote
We’ve considered what your options are if the client genuinely can’t afford your quoted price. But there are a range of other reasons why the client might reject your quote.
For instance, you may not have successfully demonstrated the full value of the site to your potential client. Maybe you met with them to take project brief, and then faxed or emailed through the quote. You really do need to give yourself the best possible chance of success when you’re quoting for a job — and that means being in person to make the pitch. With lots of preparation!
Ensure nothing has changed since the initial brief
Make sure both you and the client know exactly what the project entails, and can justify the inclusion of each type of functionality. Confusion now will translate to big problems later — if you get that far! Being clear ensuring you understand exactly what the client needs will make justifying your quote a lot easier.
Practice responses to objections
Client: "That’s a lot more than I intended to spend."
Developer: "Yes, I understand. How much did you intend to spend?"
Action: Change the structure of the project and price to meet the client’s needs.
Client: "It’s too expensive."
Developer: "Well, Mr. Smith, I agree it isn’t cheap. However if you consider the total package that you will receive, it’s a very reasonable quote. Our graphics will enhance your image, etc. And I’m sure you wouldn’t want to compromise on quality, would you?"
Client: "Joe Blow Designs are cheaper."
Developer: "Yes, and they have a good reputation. The reason we are sometimes a little more expensive is that we ensure the very best database/graphics/etc. Our employees are highly trained and experienced. Our clients want the best. You wouldn’t want to compromise on quality, would you?"
Demonstrate the benefits to your client
This is the biggie. The king. The boss. The master. The one and the only. This is it.
Always quantify the benefit to your client.
If you can demonstrate your search engine expertise and experience (for example) to the client, then you have a great way to quantify the benefit of their selecting you for the job.
Let’s say the client’s site sells discount perfume. According to the Overture search engine suggestion tool, the terms ‘perfume’ and ‘discount perfume’ were searched for 126,000 times last month (that’s on the major search engines). For argument’s sake, we’ll assume that you manage to get in the top 10 spots for both terms. If we then assume your listing achieves a 6% click through rate, we’re talking 7,560 visitors per month. And now we’ll guess that 3% of these visitors will actually purchase from the site at an average sale of $65.
Your search engine optimization skills are suddenly worth $14,500 per month to the client — and that’s just for gaining a higher ranking in Google!
If you present your search engine proposal by demonstrating that you have achieved top 10 placements for clients previously, along with the above quantification, then you’ll get that job every time.
Eliminate any concerns you think he/she might have
You guessed it: price is always a concern. So, eliminate this as your top priority, by offering a full justification of the quoted price, service guarantees, warranties, testimonials — whatever it takes.
But make sure you ask the client if they have any other concerns, too. This creates an opportunity for you to prove your professionalism and reassure them before any ‘concerns’ grow into real fears — fears that might see them reject your quote.
Finish with a strong close
It’s your job to make your prospect want to buy. Prepare your conclusion before you arrive at the meeting, so you remember to mention the most important points. Be sure to add to your final comments any references to issues the client might raise during your presentation.
This way, you’ll ensure you push the key messages as you see them, and allay the client’s own concerns in the process. What could be better?
Ask for the business
We’ve talked about it before, but asking the client for the business is the critical step in your pitch. It shows your enthusiasm for the job, and your understanding of the importance of the project to the client.
A Sample Pitch
How would I make the re-pitch to a prospect who’s rejected my quote? Well, let’s imagine I’m trying to get the contract to build a fully dynamic, searchable site.
"Now Mr. Prospect, as you mentioned, you require the site to be fully searchable and dynamic. As you know, to develop this type of sophisticated function we need to provide a databased solution. Agreed? We have done this many, many times before and my recommendation here is to do x, y and z.
"What this means to you is that your visitors will find it very easy to locate what they’re looking for — and according the Internet Usability guru Jakob Nielsen "…users typically make very quick judgments about a Website’s value based on the quality of one or two sets of search results."
"Quite simply, I estimate if we include this functionality, then about 80% of visitors will find what they are looking for. As you know, that would generate 10 enquiries a day, which, given your current conversion rate, equates to an average of 2 sales a day. Now what would that make you? $200 per day?"
Next, I’d move on to demonstrate the importance of the client being able to manage all the site content themselves through the CMS. The benefit there would be an up-to-date site that contains no irrelevant data, a lower ongoing maintenance cost, full control, etc. What does this mean to the client? More dollars in his pocket! I’d probably also take a guess as to approximately how much this functionality would save or make the prospect, so that they can see in real terms what a difference the project will make to their bottom line.
These examples hopefully illustrate the point that you need to demonstrate the benefit to the client of choosing you. And that benefit is: more money. All the client knows is that the site is an expense. You have to describe for them how the site is, in fact, a way to save and make them money.
When ‘No’ Means ‘Later’
If you don’t get the client, don’t give in. Keep in touch, and be sure to contact them every 10 weeks. Start off with a thank you letter. Then a Christmas card. Then an article that you know will be of interest to them. Then an update letter from you…
But at the same time, move on. There are plenty more fish in the sea! Ask yourself this: how did you get this prospect in the first place?
Whatever you did, do it again. And again! Good luck.
If you liked this article, you’ll love Brendon’s Freelance Starter Kit! Click here to download your copy now.
Brendon’s upcoming SitePoint book will show you step-by-step how to build your own successful Web design and development business. Don’t miss out! Click here to stay informed!
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