How do you Approach a Brick and Mortar Business?

If you are planning to offer web design services to local business owners. Do you walk in in their stores and ask who’s the business owner (which is generally not in the store)? How do you politely ask the contact information of the business owner and eventually contact them? Thanks

Of course depending on what stores we’re talking about I think often the owner will be present. In small businesses it’s all men on deck. So prepare for both scenarios.

If the owner is not present I would chat up on the person in the store. Explain what you do. Ask the employer of their web presence. Perhaps he/she will reveal info you can use when you’re contacting the owner. If you’re lucky you might even be able to use the employer as a referal: “I spoke with Joe about your web presence, and he thinks that I really might be able to help you out. …”

Ask the person in the store when the owner will be in during low traffic hours (Not good idea to try to sell something, when the owner is really busy).

If the owner is in the store, but is really busy, explain briefly what you do, and ask the owner when will be a good time for you to come back. Try to make it an appointment.

Track your metrics. Find the method that’s most effective for you. Walking around is a pretty expensive way of selling. So measure its effectiveness compared to other methods.

Good luck!

If you’re planning to market to local business owners in your area, why not setup a simple website and offer a free one page business listing w/a photo to business owners?

Walk in to offer a business free advertising and I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to talk with you which gives you a chance to find out their needs and how/if you can help them - plus it makes you look like a heck of a great and helpful guy. Even if they don’t need your services now, keep in touch with them over time and you’ve got a good chance of getting their business in the future.

If you don’t have any interest in doing a local website, I’d at least have a brochure or something you can leave behind when visiting businesses and no matter what, be sure to find out about their needs and don’t just pitch your services. Take time to find out what problems they have and show them how a website can help bring them more business or reduce their expenses etc…


Thanks for the reply guys. My biggest problem is websites are not a priority for some businesses. They often say, “we’ll call you back…” and as we know it’s a polite way of saying no thanks.

Anyways, anybody here who does direct mail to gain clients?

It’s not obvious to all businesses what value they’ll get from a website. Part of your sales job is to identify that value (if it exists and is significant enough) and make it obvious to the client. To do that effectively the more you understand of their business and industry, the better.

You’ll also have to accept that sales in many ways is a number game. You will always have to face no. It’s just part of the journey. The way you handle no is critical for pressing through, to find an effective sales system that works for you. This is also where tracking your sales effort really can help developing your approach (x attempts per day, leads to x pitches, leads to x meetings, leads to x sales etc).

Over time you need to do less of what’s not working and more of what is working.

In the beginning you probably will not be very effective. Your “wage” as a “sales person” will probably be sooo low that you’ll wonder if it’s even worth it. But that’s where how you face the no and pressing through comes in.

There are only three things involved:

  1. Your sales approach (How you do things)
  2. Your effectiveness (How good you are at identifying value and communicating it)
  3. Your presistence

If you are presistent, and constantly try to improve 1 and 2, you’ll be successful.

When people say no, try to get a hook for a followup. Ask either when they believe they will be in the market for a website or simply ask if it’s ok that you check up on them in x months time. That way the next time you contact them you can say: “Like we agreed last time we spoke, I’m contacting you now to review your website needs…”

I believe that a combination of DM and followup on the phone can be effective.

What people time and again say works best for them is network selling. That means that you sell through referals from your existing customers and people you know. So network selling is about expanding your network, keeping it alive and then utilising that network.

But I believe if you’ll learn to succeed with the more hardcore selling, it brings about presistence, communication and adaptive skills that’ll make you successful for ever. So the easy route is not always the best long term route.

I agree with Pacifer’s post. However, the basic concept of creating value is so alien to most web design, you’ll have your work cut out for you.

Value to a web designer? Pretty. Anything the designer likes must, automagically, sell.

Value to a business owner? What makes the cash register ring. Not opinion – fact.

And what that is may vary from business to business. You will be much better off segmenting your letters by industry. And then create specific value statements clearly targeting each industry.

This shows you understand the business. Nothing kills value like a generic “we provide web design to everyone who breathes” letter.

Specifics sell. Case histories sell. That’s so alien to the average designer thinking a screenshot in a portfolio is the ultimate sales tool, it’s ridiculous.

…Most web designers cringe at anything that smacks of base commerce. They don’t create ecommerce sites, full of applied psychology on what makes a sale, they install shopping carts (then call it ecommerce.)

…Most developers haven’t ever developed a way for a business to manage content. They install a CMS as a play pen so the customer can’t mess up a site’s code. That’s like frying hamburgers with a jet engine. (It works, but at a tremendous wast of resources. …And every so often the odd burger ends up on the neighbor’s roof)

Most designers will go off the rails talking about web standards and their favorite CMS. Employees get more points from the business owner for showing up for work than you will spending three paragraphs explaining the site will show up in different browsers.

The site is supposed to show up in everyone’s browser. That’s basic minimum competence. Which is okay, but a long way from creating value against the web designers who sent letter the day before yesterday and others who’ll be mailing tomorrow.

Used to be a kid kicked over a crate and called it a lemonade stand. Today that same kid will make you a site, for free, if you buy just two glasses of lemonade.

When the vast majority of designers are seen as lowest rung commodity generalists, value destroyers, the value creation road is a rough one – all up-hill.

Thanks for the solid advice.

So what approach do you guys suggest? It appears that I shouldn’t say upfront that “I do websites for a living” and that I must find a way to steer away from the word “website” so that they don’t see it as a commodity they don’t need.

I understand that I must be able to show the value of a website for a business but how exactly does one do that? We know that having a website alone doesn’t bring in customers without any marketing. Selling websites to small businesses is hard due to that fact. They probably understand that a website will just seat there and no one will visit it, and that gaining customers from their own website is generally theoretical even with a marketing plan. How do we overcome this sort of mindset?

I can work at home or do little/no personal sales as possible?

Web design. Seriously. Web design has made itself irrelevant to sales. It’s all about having a site just to “have a site.”

Just as seriously: Join a sales organization and do nothing but make personal sales …for a year. Either get over yourself or starve. Your choice.

Which brings me to …

So what approach do you guys suggest? It appears that I shouldn’t say upfront that “I do websites for a living” and that I must find a way to steer away from the word “website” so that they don’t see it as a commodity they don’t need.

Okay. This isn’t rocket science. What benefits are the business owners looking to gain from the tool: Web site. Nobody wants a web site. They want what a web site will do for them.

Never Get Involved in a Land War in Asia (or Build a Website for No Reason)

Like I said, the approach is basic business – so alien to web development you don’t even notice I already explained it. I might as well be speaking gibberish.

Technology takes perfectly good words and makes a mockery of them. Content management doesn’t. Ecommerce isn’t.

Make the words mean something. Stop the technology only discussion and talk about the owner’s business in this tough economy. …Then explain how that relates to what you design into a web site.

For that, you’ll have to discover an entire different world from the web design you read about here.

Frankly, you don’t, kind of. You’ll go for the low hanging fruit. You need to expose people that already are in a process to your message.

If you reach out to 1000 business owners, some of them will be in the right process of buying a website. And if you manage to identify those that is a good match to your offering and you position yourself in their process, you’re on good way to closing the sale.

So your first question should be who are in your win-win group. The win goes both ways: Who can you provide the most value to, and at the same time give you the most value of serving?

And value to your business isn’t only money. It can be many things, depending on what’s important to you (Interesting work, ease of cooperation, good referals, valuable brand connection, payment on time etc).

Simply put: Who are you a dream provider for, and a dream customer to you?

When you know the answer to that you figure out which demographic group they’ll most likely will be in (Can be whatever: Size of company, location, industry, profitability, brand, position/age/sex of decision maker …)

Then you create a message directly to those in that group that is somewhere along that process. Don’t mind the rest. Address it to those that already understand in their gut that opportunities are lost if they don’t do something. So when they see your message it will hit them.

Don’t make the message too wide and not too narrow. Very few will actually be ready to sign a contract tomorrow just because you come along. You need to build some trust with them first.

Appeal to both their logic and feelings. Feelings is actually the main decision maker. Explain why you’re their dream provider in terms that are relevant to them.

Oh, and exposing one guy in your group to your message multiple times is better than exposing several people one time. If you can reach them different ways, it’s best as it builds impact and credibility.

You need to drive people through the buying process, adding trust at each step.

I said above that you “kind of” don’t overcome the “wrong” mind set. You can do it by educating people over time. But it’s a longer process. The advantage is that then you, and not only the market/competition/media, teach them and influence how they look at things in your professional area.

Actually I think the biggest problem I’m facing is getting through the gatekeepers (or other obstacles for that matter) and actually setting up an appointment with the business owners. One of the gatekeepers have told me, they don’t need one yet and she’ll just send it to the boss. Thing about that is, she already made a decision before the boss.

Anyways as I have always realized, in any kind of business, when it comes to education, marketing is the best course in the whole world. Quite simply, the best web developer won’t make a lot of money if he can’t sell.

Quite simply, the best web developer won’t make a lot of money if he can’t sell.

You are getting close. If the site isn’t the best sales person the business ever had, you aren’t the “best” web developer.

You can’t put into a site design what you don’t know about. And the price for doing only what the client says is fast approaching zero.

Call and see if they’re interested. Get a business card and email them. Bring in a labtop and try and ask them for a few minutes of their time and have a mini-presentation.

Marketing generally has two forms Online marketing and OFFline marketing, the one which you are talking about is Offline marketing. When you walk down to the client you should have your homework done for the particular client.also you should have a proper approach for it,if you have some reference or intermediate in between the client and you that is also good :slight_smile: