homepage Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from
register, free tools, login, search, pro membership, help, library, announcements, recent posts, open posts,
Become a Pro Member

Home / Forums Index / WebmasterWorld / Professional Webmaster Business Issues
Forum Library, Charter, Moderators: LifeinAsia & httpwebwitch

Professional Webmaster Business Issues Forum

SEO and Web Design Sales
Considerations to "Seal the Deal"

 11:37 pm on Jun 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

A good sales pitch is a foundation of a successful business. No matter how good your marketing is, if you can't seal the deal, you are in trouble. As with Ecom...conversion is king!

I would like to take a look at the sales process and the approaches and considerations for "getting the deal".

Since sales is strongly dependant on exceptional social and speaking skills, it can be a challenge for those of us who spend hours on end staring at a monitor. Keeping in mind the fundamentals and to a good sales pitch in the back of your mind can be a helpful reminder to maintain professionalism.

Important considerations to making the sale
Customer Qualifications

Money -
The customer must have the budget available for a given project.

Authority -
The customer must be the decision maker.

Need -
There must be a direct need for your service.

If these qualifications aren't met, you are are normally wasting your time. With larger corporations, you may need to speak with a "gatekeeper" first. Work on getting through the gatekeeper as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Taken from
Roomy msg #4 [webmasterworld.com]

Make the client feel comfortable with your company.
In order to get the initial lead, you will have to make a potential customer feel comfortable with your company. To attract GOOD clients you will need GOOD marketing materials. This includes your website, print brochures, billboards, etc. etc. To attract GREAT clients, you will need to be GREAT in these areas.

This consideration turns into a snowball effect. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. Look into viral marketing. Find something for people to talk about, and make your services unique and exceptional. These are the BEST ways to make a client feel comfortable with your company. This goes beyond sales, but is an area that can definitely handicap a salesperson.

Make the customer feel comfortable with YOU
If you are the salesperson, you are the company. You are the ambassador and the public face of your company. Do not undermine the credibility of your company (even if you are a one man operation). It has been said many times that a person makes their decision about you within the first few seconds that they meet you. It is a sad but true fact…It takes a long time to wear away a first impression, and you only get one shot at it. Dress professionally, act professionally, look your customer in the eye, and have a business card prepared to present. You can wear your casual clothes and goof around AFTER you get the deal. Almost as important, if you are meeting with someone who is “blue collar”, don’t go to the meeting in a three-piece suite. As the saying goes…when in Rome…wear a toga…

The first conversation is important. You don’t want your customer to think you are a goofball, but you don’t want them to think you are too stuffy either. Remember, they are assessing you in the same manner you are assessing them. Err on the side of stuffy and professionalism until you get the deal. You don’t want to make a joke in jest that is offensive or just plain comes across as strange.

Be Prepared!
Nothing can kill a customer’s confidence in you faster than unprepared ness. Be prepared with:

  • Information on your services
  • Research on their company
  • Research on their industry (online specifically)
  • Answers to their questions – including pricing
  • Procedure for the “next step”
  • Contracts or written information about the contracts. Something for them to sign

    Don’t studder or stammer when they ask about pricing. Be prepared with a direct, concise answer that is not convoluted in any way. Customers are afraid of not understanding, and getting hit with “hidden charges”. Make your pricing disclosures up front. Err on the high side as you can always lower the cost and come in UNDER budget. Don’t give “well it depends” answers. We all know it depends, and the customer most likely will to. Tell them for this = this.

    Pricing discussion:
    How to ease the blow of price quotes [webmasterworld.com]

    Sidenote: DON’T use really bad powerpoint. Seth Godin has a great e-book available on this subject and it is worth it’s weight in gold. DON’T use overdone corporate bullet points. Use visual punctuation! Anyone who saw Tedster’s presentation at the Orlando pubcon knows what I am talking about.

    Confidence and Honesty
    Be confident but not cocky. Understand, listen and empathize with the customer, but be confident that you can meet their needs. Show complete confidence in your product, but be honest about the areas that you are weak in and why. You have lost a client forever (and probably all of their word of mouth referrals) the first time they catch you in a lie.

    Timing and Understanding the Customer

    All unemployed psychology students should be hired as salespeople…or maybe all salespeople should be required to take some psych. classes. Timing responses, and knowing when to respond and when to listen is critical. Know when:

  • It is your turn to speak
  • It is your turn to listen
  • It is time to ask for a signature

    Make sure your speech stays on topic when it is your turn to speak…it reflects how well you’ve been following the conversation.

    These areas will establish your credibility, show confidence in your answers, and don’t studder or try to “buy time” with your presentation. Look your customer in the eye when they are speaking, but don’t stare them down. Know when to look away, as non-verbal communication can tell a lot (another whole different topic).

    If your timing is off, you will scare the customer off, and they will think you are overzealous. A certain air of “aloofness” often does better for sales then any scent of desperation. The more the customer thinks you don't need them, the more they will begin to think that they need you.

    Delivery and Follow up
    Present the contract and make it look professional. Don’t have 20 pages of legal mumbo jumbo that will scare them off. Make it concise and easy to read. Just like your websites…make it convert!

    After the customer says yes…THANK THEM! Send them a card by snail mail. It means more than an e-mail or phone call even if it is a bit cheesy. Keep them from having “buyer’s remorse” and it will make your development team’s life easier (company morale and communication is another topic but definitely pertinent).

    I am not by trade a salesperson, but have been thrust into the role by default (no one quite understands SEO/SEM yet), and I seem to enjoy it somewhat. I am highly critical of myself in this role, and always trying to improve. These are the thoughts and ideas that I have picked up in the last year or so. Probably not completely organized, but I hope it makes for interesting discussion. Sales is very dependant on public speaking which many people (this is true) are afraid of more than death! Myself included at one point. Improving on public speaking and sales can be difficult, but an extremely rewarding experience. Hoping there are some more qualified salespeople here who can chime in with some of their tidbits of wisdom.


    Total Paranoia

     8:45 am on Jun 28, 2004 (gmt 0)


    Nothing to add to this but I want to say thanks as it is a very valuable post indeed! This is now printed and left on my desk to study before my next meeting!


     7:21 pm on Jun 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Money - The customer must have the budget available for a given project.

    Don't underestimate your prospects ability and willingness to spend more than the first figure that pops out of their mouth.

    Authority - The customer must be the decision maker.

    This can be tricky to determine. Even if it sounds like you are dealing with the final decision maker, there may very well be other people that they will consult with before making the decision.

    How do you find out if that is the case? Ask!

    Need - There must be a direct need for your service.

    Need is a funny thing. It's hard to really quantify objectively in a lot of cases. But whatever the actual need is, you "need" to get a grasp quickly on the prospects percieved need.

    Even if you could accurately demonstrate that there is no need on the part of the prospect, you might actually be dealing with a "want" that is over-rides the need.

    Make the client feel comfortable with your company.

    You might want to consider not refering to yourself as a company, and use the term "business" instead, especially if you are a sole operator or small shop that outsources.

    The construction industry provides a good example of this model. Many contractors are actually rather small when you look at staffing levels. They sub-contract to "trusted, reliable" sub-contrators.

    The key here is to stress the trusted and reliable part.

    Research on their company

    I can't find the thread right now, but someone recently made a great post about how doing a little reseach before meeting the client face to face, helped get them the contract.

    It stands to reason that if you know a bit about the client beforehand, you can make a better presentation.

    Understand, listen and empathize

    Listen: There is a HUGE difference between listening for what you want to hear, and listening to what the prospect is saying. Know the difference.

    Timing and Understanding the Customer

    Know when to shut up! Too many sales are lost because a salesperson keeps talking when they really shut up and hand the prospect a pen to sign the contract with.

    Delivery and Follow up

    Communicate! No one likes the feeling of being left hanging. People like to be kept informed. Explain to the prospect that progress reports will be sent on a regular schedule, especially on larger projects. Then send them on time.

    With smaller projects or newer clients, especially those new to the field (first website, etc.), you might be able to break the project down into smaller bite sized components that you can deliver on a short schedule.

    That might be a bit more work for you, but it could be very rewarding in future referals.


     8:11 pm on Jun 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Good Post! The only thing I'm abit sketchy on is:

    Answers to their questions – including pricing

    I make it an issue not to give prices on the fly; can projects be evaluated effeciently in that short of a time frame?
    Would it not be a little to premature to give them a price?


     8:37 pm on Jun 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Answers to their questions – including pricing

    The beauty of a well thought out first presentation is that providing "Answers to their questions – including pricing" doesn't have to mean quoting an actual price.

    The price question could be easily enough handled by explaining, briefly, that untill you have had a chance to really evaluate what is required for the project giving a meaningful price quote would be difficult.

    I suspect most serious prospects would be happy with that, especially if you give them a time frame for providing an accurate quote.


     12:54 am on Jun 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Awesome post. I particularily like the bit about maintaining an attitude of slight detachment. I really agree with that one if only I could train myself properly.


     4:39 am on Jun 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

    I particularily like the bit about maintaining an attitude of slight detachment. I really agree with that one if only I could train myself properly.

    Agreed. I'm also learning to walk the line between too friendly/helpful and being a liitle detached. It can be a fine line indeed.


     10:06 am on Jun 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

    I've been in Sales for 12 years and come from the angle more of a salesman thrust into the role of SEO as I started my own business.

    The part about Psychology and sales is 100% correct! I've read many many books both on sales and psychology. Not sure if it is the right place but the best book I have ever read and keep on reading evry year or so is "Selling with NLP" by Kerry L Johnson. Really shows how psychology plays in a sales pitch.

    One extra thing I would throw in is that an IT deal is very rarely closed at a first meeting.

    How many deals have you had in the pipeline for months on end?

    Trying to keep momentum on these things can be very difficult. One thing I have found extremely effective is to agree next actions including dates and who will do what at the end of a meeting. I then confirm all of this by letter to the prospect, followed by a call to make sure they are still in agreement.


     3:33 pm on Jun 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Answers to their questions – including pricing

    I think having up front "ball park" answers from the start is helpful. People won't expect you to have a fully prepared proposal upon a first meeting. They DO want something to go on though...something to make sure you are not out of their league. If you say, "$200/ hr. or 5 - 10k for an average campaign", they have more an idea of what they are working with, and where they can may need to make additions and subtractions.
    "Answers to their questions – including pricing" doesn't have to mean quoting an actual price.


    They will also know to end the meeting shortly and not waste either of your time if the average pricing does not fit their budget.

    ...part about Psychology and sales is 100% correct

    I am intrigued by this myself, and would love to hear some of the parallels. There are so many things that are at an near "unconcious" level that may have an effect on a sale. It would be interesting to see a list of some of these factors/actions/responses/etc.

    great post about how doing a little reseach before meeting the client face to face

    I remember that too...it was a very good post...I'll try to dig that one up.

    There is a HUGE difference between listening for what you want to hear, and listening to what the prospect is saying. Know the difference.

    Listening, and hearing are two different things...maybe this relates to the psych issue as well...everyone loves to talk about themselves in some regards...listen to what your client is excited about and enjoy it with them.

    ...rarely closed at a first meeting

    Most definitely...the entire sales process is important in high dollar sales. Not leading leads "fizzle", and keeping the "comfort level" with customers are definitely important. Effective communication (what is next, when will I hear from you, etc.) and reliable delivery are critical.

    Thanks for the book tip jsnow...I'll be picking that one up;)


     6:25 pm on Jun 30, 2004 (gmt 0)


    just one comment:
    regarding the "blue collar" sentence

    this might not be right (IMHO)
    numerous interlocutors have already in mind a picture
    of an IT sales person or of a web dev owner that includes maybe not a 3 pieces suit but at least a jacket

    perception is the essence

    thanks for a great piece

    Do we have somewhere a thread on:
    getting a foot in the door
    getting leads
    how do one prequalify a potential client


     6:55 pm on Jun 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

    This is a great post, stuntdubl.

    I'm the world's worst salesperson, mainly because I can't stand salespeople. :) But in the end, when a prospect wants to talk, they usually end up talking to me. Honesty and knowledge (as your post suggests) are the two things I've found must be front and center.

    I tell prospects that I'm not a salesperson, and that in all likelihood, they're speaking with the person that will actually be doing at least part of their project. In fact, we've made it a bragging point that "We don't have any salespeople on staff." That surely won't work for all, but I think it helps assure some prospects that we're not just looking to open their checkbook, and it often changes the tone of the rest of the conversation. And then once we get past the point of "I'm not a salesperson", the opportunities open up to confidently show off our knowledge and understanding of their needs and what we can do to help.


     7:18 pm on Jun 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

    We don't have any salespeople on staff.

    I like the ideals of that statement. I think the best salespeople often times are those that don't come across as such, and that truly understand, enjoy, and stand behind what they are selling.

    I've told people often that I am not really a "salesguy", which is extremely true. I am an internet geek! ...and proud!


     3:23 am on Jul 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Greetings and Gidday folks

    Hernry0 asked

    Do we have somewhere a thread on:
    getting a foot in the door
    getting leads
    how do one prequalify a potential client

    Do we have somewhere a thread on:

    Checked a few, but nothing sprang up at me, so here goes ...

    As a SOHO operation which had years of sales experience in a field (tourism) both buying and selling offline advertising and in the IT/telelcommunications industries, the transition to providing good web site design and promotion wasn't that hard.

    We lived locally, knew the market and most of the niches (and potential), plus we "got in on the ground floor" of web tourism promotion.

    Getting a foot in the door, getting leads:

    Get involved in your local community as a volunteer on committees, non profit association boards etc.. Not only will you get valuable experience in stuff you never dreamed of, but you'll get valuable networking (read customers/clients) contacts as well as raising your profile in the community.

    (Paying your dues: If you're a power freak, the secretary is usually the most powerful job, the least popular and easiest to impress people with if you manage it properly!)

    If that sounds like too much hard work, then approach the local hobby/business/clubs/associations and offer to do a presentation on "New to the internet? How to reduce your spam/virus exposure and why you should back up your data".

    (We here at WebmasterWorld *know* why this is important, don't we?)

    Just by doing a 30 or 45 minute presentation on what spam/virii/trojans etc. are, and what to do to avoid/reduce chances of getting slam dunked by 'em can give you a foot in the door:

    Joe newbie: "Wow, I didn't know that stuff, thanks. Are you a computer expert?"
    You: "Actually, I design web sites/do search engine optimisation* for a living. Making sure my friends and customers/everyone else knows what to do so they don't get infected by any nasties that are out there, is just self preservation ... <self deprecating laugh> ...what do you do?" ...

    *No jargon with newbies or prospects!

    how do one prequalify a potential client:

    If you're a jack of all trades and will take money from anyone, I guess you gotta prequalify a potential client more thoroughly, but keep in mind the old saying "I like people who like me".

    Since we knew what market we wanted to do business with, saw the potential and opportunity (right place right time) and had experience/exposure in doing business in the industry already, it was a no brainer.

    So ...

    What are your hobbies/interests/passions?
    What are the local competition doing?
    What's the market doing now?

    When you visit their sites do you think "WOW! nice site" or do you groan and wonder how much they blew on that piece of garbage for a site?

    Can you leverage those?

    Get sales experience:

    1. Go learn or get face to face advertising sales and marketing experience, either by doing something like telemarketing (what doesn't kill you makes you stronger) or volunteer to sell space/time for a local non profit. It'll help you get over the fear of rejection.

    2. Get hold of Hank Trishlers' "No Bull Selling". Not only good advice, but a good chuckle too.

    NEXT - SELL the appointment first. GET the appointment, then you can impress them with your talent.

    And if you just aren't a "sales person" then create and stick to (initially - like the first 10 years) a "script". Write down what you want to present as your talents, then incorporate getting the answers and feedback you need from the prospect to make sure they get what they want.

    Don't promise what you can't deliver, don't lie, and keep them informed when things are going wrong.

    Good luck everyone and remember, above all, have FUN!



     11:19 am on Jul 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

    The thread is becoming even better!

    Thank you for sharing your "weapons" with us

    I am preparing the same (at least will give it a try)
    and will be ready within a day or so




     4:11 pm on Jul 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Getting a “foot in the door” (out of the blue)
    Is pretty much dealing with the infamous cold call concept

    First visit: Never expect speaking to a decider
    Ask the Cerbere (Monster whose mythology made the guard of the Hells) for the name of the person in charge of MKTG, web etc....

    Then try to place a call, or/and write an intro letter

    Last: Follow up
    If your interlocutor when asked about its website replies “ Our website works fine”
    No time for panic reply “I promote websites and can add exposure to your existing site.... embark on the SEO road
    And try to set an appointment to depict your services (better be fully prepared)

    Nowadays it seems that the jobs available for a small business such as mine (a one or two men show) are not really in web dev but in boosting existing
    Therefore somehow calling for being better that your direct competitors
    The above regarding web work availability has been dictated by personal experience; not the best experience since I fit in the web dev category.

    I do not believe in 100% cold calls, unless someone will do it for me!
    Although does it look professional?

    I tried hiring a sales person (up to 30% commission)
    Tried 3 and never did they performed up to expectations.

    A better system lies in PR
    Meet as much as possible persons that are involved in a business startup requirements for example: advertisers, printers, business bankers, investor groups, insurers, lawyers etc.... What’s wrong in recommending your services?
    In exchange offer free web work or some office computer help demo or be straightforward and offer a brokerage agreement (20% founder fee)

    Pre qualifying a potential client helps tremendously
    My technique: using listing from chambers of commerce, trade associations and similar bodies
    Review carefully the directory searching for members not displaying a web address, then do a research to verify it, the previous list will drop by 60%
    The residual names that have past your screening are the potential candidates.
    Go back to the web and search within each candidate professional category for web tendencies, do your homework collect info
    And try to summarize in two sentences what will be the benefits gained from hiring you
    Next I like to send a letter with a two pages “propaganda” good quality brochure
    Keep the cover letter as short as possible 8 to 10 lines max.

    What else
    The elements outlined so well by Stuntdubl and Jpalmer applies
    Look professional; find a niche
    Mine is that I am 7*7 available
    I do not charge for tiny things, for example again as mentioned in the thread do help in office security and other items in the same range those are part of my value added services

    In closing I would like emphasizing on Jpalmer statement

    Matter factually
    I had recently a very good conversation withy a professional independent sales person targeting industrial large corps.
    (He was a really successful sales person- yearly in the mid range six figures-)
    The gentleman will soon be retiring and when looking back on its career
    He had the following input:
    Years ago a sales person was greeted more pleasantly than now
    A sales person was also a means to hear about new products or new techniques.
    A sales person was feeling more welcome for many employees had more time at hand to perform their daily endeavor
    Why: Productivity requirements, cost of operating, and cost of pleasing shareholders and possibly outsourcing (but I do not want to start that one off topic) have shrank the working force resulting in employees or management getting a larger share of the work load
    Which in return triggers the “no-time-for-sales-person” mantra

    Please do not think that I am painting an overly dark picture of sales realty – knowing how tough of a job sales can be will prepare anyone for a good fight-

    By the way I am the worst sales person you can ever met :)



     7:31 am on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Great post. I'd like to add the following:

    As the original poster stated (I'll paraphrase), find people who want, need and are able to afford what you're offering; don't waste time trying to "convince" people who are not. Finding people who are ready to "buy now" is much more efficient than talking to people who are merely "interested."

    Be sure to look for any and all reasons why you and the prospect would not do business together. Better to uncover all of the "showstoppers" upfront rather than after investing several hours into the sales process.

    Find out what the prospect's intentions are, if you can deliver his requirements at an acceptable price. If you ask directly, you might get one of several responses:

    1. We'll do business
    2. I'm just shopping
    3. I'll compare your price to 15 other vendors
    4. I'll show your proposal to the board

    Their response and willingness to commit to do business determines what I'm willing to do. For example, I certainly wouldn't prepare a proposal for someone who's "just shopping."

    Since sales is strongly dependant on exceptional social and speaking skills, it can be a challenge for those of us who spend hours on end staring at a monitor. Keeping in mind the fundamentals and to a good sales pitch in the back of your mind can be a helpful reminder to maintain professionalism.

    I agree that sales can be intimidating if you are not naturally a "people person" (which I am not). In fact, I am currently taking a sales course that is teaching me that anyone can sell. The problem arises when we think we need to be something we're not and become a different person when we are trying to "sell."


     11:32 am on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

    I should take that course
    On another hand (remember I hate to be my own sales person)
    although I am very good with people
    If I can set a foot in the door of a "ready to seriously consider what I offer" person
    Then my rate of closing will be very high

    Again the initial contact is really what matters

    The magic cauldron should concoct a potion for
    Finding people who are ready to "buy now" is much more efficient than talking to people who are merely "interested."

    By the way what are the secret ingredients? How do you find those people?


     6:51 pm on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

    The magic cauldron should concoct a potion for
    Finding people who are ready to "buy now" is much more efficient than talking to people who are merely "interested."

    By the way what are the secret ingredients? How do you find those people?

    It's no different from how you would find people "ready to seriously consider what I offer." The difference lies in what you do with the people you do find.

    At any given moment, a fair percentage of those you contact will have some level of interest. A very small percentage will be ready to "buy now." By "dis-qualifying" those that are merely interested, you are able to move on and find the ones that are ready now.

    Traditional sales teaches you to find people who are interested and then manipulate them through the sales process to get them to buy, using various "closing" techniques, overcoming objections, etc. (We've all probably encountered the sales person that wouldn't take 'no' for an answer.)

    Dis-qualification sales teaches you to get to 'no' as fast as possible, then move on. Although there is a smaller percentage of people ready to "buy now," the closing rate is 85-90%.

    The beauty of this is that I'm not really "selling" at all. I'm merely discovering if the prospect and I have mutually beneficial reason to do business together. What would normally be an adversarial process becomes a collaborative one.


    [edited by: stuntdubl at 7:34 pm (utc) on July 4, 2004]
    [edit reason] No urls, thanks. See TOS [webmasterworld.com] [/edit]


     7:21 pm on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Thank you
    This thread is/has been highly interesting

    Truly a good one



    [edited by: stuntdubl at 5:07 pm (utc) on July 5, 2004]
    [edit reason] edited spelling per henry0 [/edit]

    Global Options:
     top home search open messages active posts  

    Home / Forums Index / WebmasterWorld / Professional Webmaster Business Issues
    rss feed

    All trademarks and copyrights held by respective owners. Member comments are owned by the poster.
    Home ¦ Free Tools ¦ Terms of Service ¦ Privacy Policy ¦ Report Problem ¦ About ¦ Library ¦ Newsletter
    WebmasterWorld is a Developer Shed Community owned by Jim Boykin.
    © Webmaster World 1996-2014 all rights reserved