quiet_man - 7:50 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)
A good starting point with such prospects is to ask them 'why have you got/do you want a web site'? Everything follows from this. Once they can identify their goal/s - with or without your help - you can then start dealing with why their current site may or may not be able to meet those goals, and what you would do differently to make sure your design does.
Usually just this first step of forcing them to think about a strategy or focus for their site comes as a bit of a revelation to the 'I-want-a-website-because-everyone-else-has' types, and they will already start to trust that you know what you're talking about.
If you can then support your own suggestions with industry stats ('you need fast loading pages because research shows that 30% of visitors will abandon a site that does not load within 8 secs') and your own case studies ('my client X now has traffic of 2000 visitors a month') then you're on your way to a conversion. Professional website 'design' is about so much more than technical and/or aesthetic ability, and this is what you have to convey to these prospects.