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Ever ask a client what they paid?

for their existing site

     
8:02 pm on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I strive to be as professional as possible to instill trust with my clients. Out of curiosity more than any other reason (maybe for benchmarking as well), I thought about asking what a client paid for their existing site ...in this case it looks like someone just learned how to use FrontPage to make a site for a small law firm.

Would it be rude or inappropriate to inquire?

8:06 pm on July 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I have asked this in the past without trouble. But it depends on the person you're asking -- after a while you should be able to gauge how he/she might respond. If I can't get a good read, I might phrase the question like this: "Did you spend more than XXX on your existing site?" That's generic enough that they don't have to give an exact answer ... you get the info. you want, and you get across the implied "If you did, you wasted your money" message. :)
8:18 pm on July 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I always ask - it's your response to the number they give you that you need to be careful of :)
9:26 pm on July 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I like oilman's answer :)

BTW this is food for thoughts; never did I think asking what they paid for.

But not sure about the benefits?

A value added question might be "did by?"
Why: with $ only you will never know if a kid did it or a pro participated in its making

knowing the web dev... now that's important!

9:50 pm on July 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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good point HenryO,

Assuming a re-design means they're unhappy with the existing design (duh), it might be an opportunity to elicit sensitive issues. Like "do you feel you over/under paid?" or " tell me about the process used to arrive at this design" or "what were your expectations?"....just off the top of my head.

might not be tangible benefits other than an oppty to "bond" with a client who may want to just "vent" and you just need to listen.

2:15 am on July 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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As well, you'd no doubt be ahead if you could somehow dig out an honest answer to "what is it you are disappointed in with the present design?" Of course, that's like asking pre-teens to articulate why they're mad at their parents and the world....
9:05 am on July 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thinking outside the square here guys, what about asking the client if they got their money back on their site?

And then walking them through a process of looking at how much it cost them, the ongoing costs versus the income it has brought it.

Basically you obtaining the same information in a veyr non-threatening way and giving yourself extremely valuable information. Not only that, you are positioning yourself with the client a a consultant rather than pure sales.

9:45 am on July 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>Ever ask a client what they paid?

Never, it is irrelevant!

What they paid historically is related only to the quality of service they received!

I do NOT for a single second want to compare my company's services with their historic performance as it would be impossible to do so!

I'll be happy to charge the prospect a flat rate per hour, a percentage related to a performance figure, or a share of the net profit derived.

They are free to choose how this venture will cost them nothing but a % of their return.

If it doesn't work for them, it doesn't work for me. That happens once in a while, but 99.9% of the time we work out what will best benefit all! Then we plan Strategy 2+, that has more lures, more safeguards, and more ways to keep the carousel rolling :)

1:12 pm on July 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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a percentage related to a performance figure

Can you elaborate on this idea. Is the 'performance figure' sales data from an e-commerce site, increased site traffic, anecdotal data?

8:08 pm on July 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I once asked a friend how much he paid to get his car recently painted.

When he told me I replied that there was probably still time to cancel the check...

For some odd reason he didn't speak to me for 6 months...

Some people are comfortable telling you they got taken for a ride and others are highly embarrassed. Gauging which is which is the real trick.

8:20 am on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>Can you elaborate on this idea. Is the 'performance figure' sales data from an e-commerce site, increased site traffic, anecdotal data?

One Example: In the US, Doctors, Dentists, Attorney's or even Real Estate agents and others will happily pay a 20% to 35% referral fee for new business.

To these folks 20% to 35% of sales, which is also close to net GP related to a single sale is an acceptable figure. They already pay that for traditional advertising or referrals.

Ever been to a Doctor and been referred and referred and referred....same true of a Dentist?, Attorney? Real Estate Agent or several other businesses?

It is because they all make good money with very limited liability from these referrals.

You get pushed from pillar to post because there is more profit in the referral than from the liability of doing the job.

Website designers and those related to advertising can cash in/join in on this environment.

I know a "sale" to a Doctor has at least a 35% profit margin.....ain't that a horrible thought, but it is only a reflection of how they think!

Therefore a Doctor will be prepared to pay his website developer a 35% equivalent fee for any business his website developer truly generates.....after all that is only the same as the Doctor is already paying for business now via other mechanisms (advertising or referrals).

Therefore if you use your negotiating skills to charge based upon something between 10% and 35% of sales they will be very happy, and if you can deliver, it will most likely be a far higher payment than you can achieve via conventional methods.

This only works if you can deliver the goods, and have a water tight contract that ensures they pay. But, let's be honest without these two elements you probably shouldn't be in this business anyway ;)

2:45 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Therefore if you use your negotiating skills to charge based upon something between 10% and 35% of sales they will be very happy, and if you can deliver, it will most likely be a far higher payment than you can achieve via conventional methods.

This is an interesting idea, however, I doubt I would take a chance to implement such a plan or suggest it to a client. I am new to the business but from what I have read, it's hard enough to get clients to pay for a completed website, much less worry about whether or not they can be trusted (or to be more fair, "can be relied upon") to send me commission on every sale. Having a signed contract only ensures that I can take legal action if I can prove I am being cheated. Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of offering a client assurance that my work will grow their business. ....maybe I am too cynical, paranoid, or risk-averse in matters of business.

 

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