You design and build websites. You are good at it. You know there’s a need and you know you can make money doing it. The problem is: you don’t know how to “sell” your services.
Maybe you have a sales process, but it’s a bit haphazard or unpredictable, or it just isn’t effective. Maybe you aren’t thinking the right way. Or perhaps you don’t have a process at all because you don’t even know where to begin. This video will give you a streamlined baseline for how to think about selling your web design services so you can do it more effectively.
So, how do you sell web design services? First, you must know the experience level of your potential client. Second, set your pricing according to the business problem your prospective client is facing. Third, develop a sales process that allows your prospective client to make the decision quickly.
The article below provides the outline you need to sell web design services effectively. Let’s begin.
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How Do I Sell My Web Design Services?
Let's start at the beginning: What is the most effective sales strategy for web design services? How should you be thinking?
I think there are two important points here.
- The first is to remember that you are marketing your services to a person. That person may reflect a variety of ages, genders, social status, and interests, but at the end of the day, it is an actual human being trying to make a buying decision. Any information you offer should be designed to help this person make that buying decision as quickly and as effectively as possible.
- The second point to remember is that your best client already has some sort of web presence. There's an existing website, and they're trying to optimize that website to market their products or services.
Your best client might be:
- in the content business, making money every day from the hundreds or thousands of articles on their site.
- in the e-commerce business, selling hundreds or thousands of SKUs every single day.
- in the software business, offering a large number of apps, downloads, and software tools.
- running a membership site, with the majority of their offering—the majority of their interaction with clients—behind a paywall.
Your best client may operate in one of these models or some hybrid of these models. The point is that your best client already has an existing web presence, and they want you to help them better optimize, to get even more value from that presence.
How to Pitch a Website to a Client
What do these clients need? What might they be looking to buy? Let's put them in three categories here:
- Beginner. The beginning client already has an existing client base, but their web presence may not be integrated into how commerce is typically done, so they may use the phrase, “We want to put ourselves out there.” They want to use their website to push beyond their established community, their physical location, their organic opportunities.
So for them a redesigned website means expanded reach. The beginning client knows that they don't have the kind of website they need, and they're willing to make the initial investment to get one. It becomes your job to quantify what that core investment needs to be and what they can expect from their initial investment of time, energy, and money.
- Intermediate. The intermediate person has most likely invested in some sort of web design, but it was an imperfect investment. They have a website, and it more or less works, but not as well as it should. They need someone who can look at the website and upgrade the design, content, and/or user interface in a way that most efficiently and consistently helps the client market their products or services. The immediate person more or less is looking for an upgrade to what they already have.
- Advanced. The advanced client is looking for speed and user-friendliness. They already have the initial setup. It works and they know it works, but now they want it to happen faster. And they have metrics in place to measure that speed. So they start using terms like ROI (return on investment) or ROAS (return on ad spend).
They're comfortable spending money and making a significant investment, because they have a way to measure the effectiveness of that investment. And so you've got to be willing to look at their situation, see what has the most opportunity for the highest return, and make the improvement.
How NOT to Sell Website Services
There’s a classic mistake that we make when we sell any sort of digital marketing-related service: we try to convince them of the potential. What you want to do instead is sell to people who are already doing digital marketing and already want what you provide. It's important to pitch to the sold, not to the stubborn.
The mistake that we make as experts is that we see opportunity—if a company would just do this, if a client would just do that—and so we begin to “evangelize” to clients. The trouble is that the person you’re selling to hasn't already understood for themselves that an opportunity or efficiency is present.
If you're selling to stubborn people, that means you have to convince them that a certain web design or element is a good idea. And if you have to convince them, that's heavy lifting on your part, and they won't pay the premium for it.
You want people who are already sold on the idea that a new web design is a good idea and will be a profitable investment, and then you only have to convince them to invest with you instead of the other guy. You want to sell the people who are already sold. Be careful of becoming an “evangelist” and trying to sell to people who are too stubborn to see the opportunity.
How Do I Price My Web Design Services?
The basic framing of hourly work, project-based work, and retainer-based work is always sound and will always be appropriate. You can choose from those three, as they relate to your clientele and as they relate to your company.
For our purposes here, let's look at project-based pricing. Here’s a guide that can help us. You can see that the cost can range from $500 for a very basic website with a simple design to around $10,000 for top-of-the-line everything. That's quite a spread. You can sell for more than that if you choose. You can sell for less than that if you choose. But you get an idea of where the sweet spot is for how the pricing of services is typically structured. Most of your projects will fit somewhere along this scale, typically in between $500 and $10,000.
Now let's talk about why that price range might exist. If you want to charge more for your services, make the prices go up, what do you have to do?
- Scope: You’ve got to be willing to take on more scope. These could be simpler projects, just done on a larger scale. So instead of creating 10-page websites, maybe you are creating 50- or 60-page sites. Or instead of placing 30 SEO keywords in various places on the site, you’re incorporating 100 keywords. Larger scope allows you to drive the price up.
- Complexity: If you want to drive the price up, you’ve got to take on more complexity. You could offer custom design, highly advanced e-commerce capabilities, or industry-specific solutions. Those things make the project more complex, and that allows you to turn the price of your services up.
- Opportunity: Another element that allows you to charge more for your prices is opportunity or value. That could be a matter of increasing revenue, or it can be a matter of decreasing costs. So if there's an opportunity in the marketplace that your client is aware of and your web-building skills can help them acquire that opportunity well, that's worth revenue to them. That's worth more to them.
Likewise, if they know that not having a well-designed site or not having specific features on their site could cost them money, if there's some sort of marketplace repercussion if they don't have those things, they're aware of that cost. Your saving them from that cost, again, allows you to turn the price up.
So if you want to charge more for your services, be at the high end of the band, these are the kinds of things you need to deal with.
Now, what kind of things drive the price down? If the price is cheaper, why might that be the case?
- Existing Infrastructure: If your client has existing infrastructure—if they already have a website, if they already have e-commerce functionality, if they already have assets—the more that they have, the easier the project is to execute. So there's just no need for a premium to be paid if they've already paid the premium in the form of existing infrastructure.
- Existing Organization: Another thing that can drive the price down is if your client has an existing organization. Right now I'm talking about people. If they specifically have people in place to do the work already, if they have copywriters, designers, e-commerce specialists, then they don't need your team or your organizational workflows. Those things help keep the price down and a bit more manageable.
As you think about working with clients and finding a price point that makes sense, all of these options need to be considered, because at the end of the day you're trying to solve the problem facing your client. If your client has challenges that drive the price up, so be it. If your client has efficiency that keeps the price more moderate, so be it. What's most important is that your pricing reflects the scenario your client is experiencing.
What Should My Web Design Sales Process Look Like?
If you're looking for a step-by-step process to sell your web design services, what might that look like? Well, the basic process begins by identifying the right people. From there you make contact, that contact leads to a conversation, and that conversation becomes a closed sale. This is pretty much how the process works.
Now the mistake we make is we normally have the wrong attitude as we move through these steps. Let's look at how you should be thinking as you take each step.
- Identification: When you identify people in the marketplace who you may be able to serve, what you're looking for are problems you can solve. These are people with an existing web presence, and you can tell by looking at their website that something is not 100%; something could be improved. Maybe it’s the design, maybe it has more to do with functionality. Maybe the site just isn’t very user-friendly. Whatever it is, there's something about their scenario that reflects a problem to you.
- Contact: So when you reach out to make contact, what you’re doing is offering to have a conversation. So if they have this problem, you’re asking, “Hey, would you like to talk about it?” That's all you're trying to get done. You're not trying to sell in this context. You're just trying to see if a conversation makes sense.
- Conversation: When you talk to that person in this conversation, you are confirming that the issue that you think exists actually does exist. If you're correct and the issue exists, then you can move forward. If not, then you should try to understand what's really going on so you can propose the next course of action. This conversation is about confirming, not forcing their hand to move forward as a client.
- Sale: When they decide to become a client, when they decide to close, then the work begins immediately. You don't introduce anything else; just get started solving the problem that existed in the first place.
Now, timeout for a brief sanity check here. I know that what you're looking at here looks really, really simple. We under-appreciate how simple and how elegant the sales process can be.
The number one mistake that we make is trying to force people down this chain of events. We're so focused on making our sale, hitting our numbers, getting that closed deal, that we don't leave enough space for the person on the other side to move down this process with us. So yes, this process can be quite simple, but it's really important to navigate it in a professional way so that both parties can be comfortable with the conclusion that's made in the end.
How Do I Get Web Design Clients?
So if you're excited, you're focused and you want to start this process right now, what do you do? I recommend that you go with tried, true, and proven approaches.
- Go with friends and family. There are people in your network who know who you are, who respect what you do, who are aware of your web-building skills. It makes sense for you to reach out to friends and family first to get your initial point of momentum.
- Use social media. You have people who follow you, who have connected with you, who are in your online networks, and it just makes sense to leverage those networks to build on that initial momentum.
- Use freelance networks. There are many of these. They're all designed to put people in front of you who are ready to make the buying decision, and so you can bid on that work and get your initial thrust of opportunities from platforms like Upwork and other sites.
Are there nuances? Yes. Are there complexities? There certainly can be. But whatever process you choose to go forward with, what’s important is the essential insight that you're using this process to help someone make a buying decision. The easier you make the decision for this person, the faster they can say, “Yes,” and work can begin.
What Should My Web Design Business Model Look Like?
So you’ve figured out your pricing, you know how to pitch your services, and you’ve landed some clients. Now, how can you continue to sell premium web design services without having to start from scratch each time and create every project from a customized point of view?
I really think that many web design agencies are functioning with a flawed business model. Every project is custom, you're always starting from zero, and the client is trying to pick and choose from all these different web design elements in order to get a site to come together. I think it's a bad deal for both parties. It quietly frustrates both parties.
If you really want to be a premium-level service provider for your clients, which I know you do, help them get to their final end destination without having to learn internet marketing. If you do that, you'll be their hero.
Let's give some examples of that. We know the basic idea. The basic idea is to acknowledge where your client is and then get them to where they want to be as fast and efficiently as you can. Let’s see what that looks like in a couple of different scenarios.
Service Option: Building a Client’s First Website
Now, let's assume in this first scenario that your client is building their very first website.What your client wants is a website that basically looks good. They want it to reflect them and their company well.
- Know your objectives. The first thing you need to do is make sure that you can measure this end result. There should be an objective measurement for what "look good" means. Does that mean that there is a great picture of the client on the website? A great picture of the product on the website? Should we show the website to a couple of important stakeholders and they should all give it a thumbs up? What does “look good” mean? Before we start any work we need to be clear on the objective measurement at the end.
- Know your process. Okay, now let's work backwards. You can't make a website at all until you have a final draft, one that we can all look at, approve, and decide to upload. You've got to get that final draft done. But you shouldn't do a final draft until you've wireframed it. Somewhere behind the scenes there’s a mock-up of what the site could look like if we're all comfortable with that. And there's no way you can get a wireframe done unless you’ve done something on paper. Scribble it out, just kind of get a sense of what it is that we actually want to do.
Your client, in general, is less concerned about all the social media buttons, and retargeting scripts, and header images, and header code, and footer code, and all those things that web designers like you know are involved. What they want is a site that looks good. Your job is to include all of those things in this process.
When you format your paper draft, when you're scribbling on paper, all of those items, those technical elements, are inside that draft. They're inside that template that you're working from, so when you move to the wireframing, all of the important ingredients are already there.
Now the client can make sure that their picture, their product, their testimonials, whatever elements are most important to them, you're working from that wireframe. When you move to the final draft there are no surprises. We all know what the process has been. When we get here it's a final check, we can say, “Yes,” and then everybody can give it a thumbs up and you’re their hero. This is what they want.
Service Option: Helping a Client Rebrand
Now, let's look at web design from an even deeper level. Let's look at web design in the context of a rebrand, because rebrands are typically more complex projects.
- Establish the must-haves. Again, what do we want at the end? We've got to know what objective measurement we're trying to meet when we say “rebrand.” Is the site going to be faster? Is it going to be more colorful? What exactly does that mean? Should it convert in a certain way? Convert to what? Et cetera, et cetera. Your job as the expert is to help the client understand what a quality rebrand looks like before they buy anything.
Now, you can work backwards. You know there's got to be a final draft. “Before we go live, is everyone clear?” “Yes, we are.” And then you can press the button.
Before you do that, if we're talking about a rebrand, there are certain things that they want to see in the rebrand. There are certain reasons why they even want to rebrand in the first place; there are certain functionalities or certain elements that they want to have in the rebrand. Be clear about those on the front end. These should be static things. They should not move. They’re must-haves.
- Establish the priorities. Prior to that, you may want to have the client do some competitive research. Who are the competitors in their space? Or who do they aspire toward in their space? And what crucial things are they considering? They start here with this list. This list could be 10 things long, four, five. And then you may get them down to one, two, and three and then you can build that. Then you can go ahead and press the “go live” button.
- Have an established methodology. As you know, you could add much more complexity to this process. The idea is just to begin to give it some simplicity and some elegance.
What’s really important is that your client sees what happens at the end and that you know, not only externally when you describe to the client what's going to happen, but if we're talking about a rebrand, internally you have a method to help a client find their top ten competitors as quickly as possible. You have a method to help your client decide on these top three must-haves as quickly as possible. You have a methodology to help a client decide, or say yes to, that final draft so you can stay on time and stay on target when it’s time to rebrand by the deadline.
Now this process may still be 90 days. It may still be six months, depending on all the parts that are moving. But at each phase your company, internally, has a methodology for how they deliver on these things so that your client doesn’t grab control of the project from you and begin to add a bunch of things that aren't helpful to anyone.
The value of prioritizing your services isn’t just that it allows you to explain them well to your client; it also gives you and your team internal instructions on what happens when. And if you approach your client with that level of professionalism and organization, it's just hard to say, "No."
I'll see you in the next video.