How to Get Web Design Clients: Five Factors You Must Address

The first thing you notice when you become a freelance web designer is how quickly you also need to become a salesman.

Web design clients do not come floating through the door, you have to go out and get them. And the second thing you notice when you become a freelance web designer is how darn hard this process can be.

In this post I am going to give you some crucial tips on how you can get a web design clients by addressing some extremely important factors. If you fail to communicate these issues to the potential client they will, undoubtedly, become uninterested.

1. You are going to make them money

The very first thing you need to address is how your website is going to make that business more money. Money is all a small business cares about. They are not there twelve hours a day to save the world or help the community. Their first and foremost concern is making more cash to pay the mortgage. So right off the bat you need to find a way to tell them that you are going to make them money.

Money

The wonderful thing about selling a person a website is that you never have to lie. Websites are so beneficial to a person’s business you can have 100% certainty that you are selling them something that is going to help. When you walk in to meet a potential client it is wonderful to know that you are really going to help their business grow.

Here are some basic ways you can introduce them to the idea that a website will make a business money:

  • More people now use Google than any other method to search for a business
    Explain to the client that Google is now bigger than all the local phone books, radio ads, etc. It is now the number one way that people find your business. If they do not have a website that ranks well on Google they are losing money. Big time.
  • Existing customers also use Google
    Many businesses will have existing customers that need to find them on Google in order to re use their services. Take a pizza place as an example. You might use the same place 10 times a year and every time you need their phone number. If their site isn’t easy to find on Google you might take your business elsewhere.
  • 80% of people visit a website before visiting a store
    Have you ever driven past a store you thought was pretty cool but gone home and looked up their website before visiting the store? I do it all the time. Make your client well aware of this fact; they must have a well designed website in order to cover all of those people who look at the website before making contact.
  • A website can create loyalty
    The last point I am going to give you is the idea that a website can create repeat business by developing loyalty in their customers. It might be a mailing list or a blog or even a Twitter account, all of these things are ways to send out specials and incentives for people to come back into their store. And its a heck of a lot cheaper than other forms of print advertising.

Always bring it back to how this website is going to make them money. If you can do that successfully you will make the sale without any difficulty at all.

2. You have done a lot of websites

The second thing that you need is what is called “social proof”. People will be very wary of your service unless they can see that other people have trusted you already. Most people do not like to be pioneers and as such they will need to hear about other websites you have developed.

Social Proof

Start by subtly dropping the names of some of your clients – especially the ones in the same industry. For example, if a local cafe is asking about how long it takes to rank on Google you could say something like, “Well we did the Chinese restaurant Dragon Inn around the corner and that took about three weeks”. Immediately you have solved two problems in the client’s mind: how long does it take to get on Google and does this guy know what he’s doing.

Now, there is often one big problem. You don’t have any relevant websites as social proof. You are going to a client without any backups. This is tricky. In this situation I strongly reccomend you start doing free or discounted websites for people you know. For example, if you go to see a chiropractor once a month you could offer him/her a $2000 website for free in exchange for a few free readjustments. Nine times out of ten they will love the idea. And you get an opportunity to practice your selling in a less intimidating environment.

3. You are in it for the long term

One thing thing that web designers often do that drives potential clients crazy is have a “set and forget” mentality. You must address this lazy habit or it will lose you business.

Long Term Committment

Always reassure your client that you will take care of them in the long term, offer them specials if they ever want to redesign and update their site with new information if they want to add anything new. This gives them a sense of security, a feeling that they are being taken care of and not just sold to.

4. Your initial cost is justified

A new website can cost anywhere between a couple of hundred dollars and several thousand. One thing you need to realize is that for a small business ANY amount of money that is not going into their pocket is seen as a waste. Their margins are often very small and as such it can be very difficult to convince them that the cost of a website is justified. But there are ways around this.

Justify the initial cost

Firstly, you should drop a simple statistic like the fact that every dollar spent on online marketing reportedly brings back ten dollars within the first year. Dumb it down for them. Let’s say they are a winery. You are going to do them a website for $2500. Now, after a few months they might be indexed on Google and a local pub hears about their product and searches for them, encounters their website and makes an order for six months worth of wines for their restaurant. They just paid for the website in one go. None of this is untrue of course, websites really are that powerful.

Make sure you justify your cost in terms they can relate to. Simply saying “we are cheaper than other designers” is no good because it doesn’t mean jack to the client. Show them why your cost is justified to THEM.

5. You know what you are doing

The final factor that you must address is the issue of whether or not you know what you are doing. The problem? You cannot convince anyone of this by simply saying, “I know what I am doing”. Rather, you have to communicate it from the very first handshake to the last goodbye wave. Everything you say and do needs to communicate the feeling of “expert”.

Know what you're doing

Here are some vital tips that you need to stick to if you want to appear like you know what you are doing:

  • Dress really well
    Do not turn up for a client meeting in a hoodie and jeans. Ever. Not ever. Always put on a shirt, freshly ironed slacks, a belt and some well shined shoes. Look the part. If you are trying to sell someone a product that you are sure is going to make them money then try and look like you are making some money yourself. First impressions are the most important. If you don’t look like an expert you won’t be treated like one.
  • Talk in English
    Something web designers often do is talk in jargon. They over compensate with the client because they think it will make them appear smarter. They use words like “indexing”, “rankings”, “hosting” and “domain names”. Yes, that’s right. The word “domain name” is internet jargon and chances are your client won’t know what the hell you are talking about. Be kind and speak in English. Make sure they can relate to what you are saying. The real expert is not the one that knows all the words. It is the one that can communicate the ideas.
  • Give examples of success
    Whenever you are talking to a client about something to do with their website you should give examples of other websites that have done it well. For example, if they are interested in getting more traffic you can talk about the strategy that Amazon.com used during their launch year, or, better yet, you could talk about a strategy you used with another one of your clients. Examples are a lot like a picture and a picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Know their business
    One sure-fire way to impress your client is to know about their business. Know their Google rankings, their competitors and their client base and constantly refer to how you can address problems associated with those things. Again, this shows you are an expert because you are relating to something important to the client.
  • If you look and sound like you know what you are doing then the client will trust you. And you need that trust in order to spark up a relationship with them.

Conclusion

Selling websites can be hard, especially if you don’t address these issues. If you do address them, however, you will find that the sale comes quite naturally as you are really doing a service for the client. Show them how a website will make them money, how many websites you have made, why your cost is reasonable and why they should trust you and you will sell more websites. I guarantee it.

Written By Ramsay

Ramsay is the founder of Taplin Web Design, a modern website design and online marketing firm based in Australia. He has a network of over 200 quality blog sites and enjoys writing about himself in the third person.

8 Comments

  1. agilius

    July 6th, 2009 at 08:26 am

    Good point. The stepts might not go in exactly the same order, but in general it is all true.

    One other hint: Being a human rather than a ‘pro designer/developer’ gives great results.

  2. joao

    July 6th, 2009 at 10:24 am

    a good post at which i can see myself and my own experience expetially because i am just starting out and is quite dificult to prove my skills without the back up you mention.

    some good ideas which i will put them i practice
    cheers

  3. Chris Lentz

    July 6th, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    You make some great points. I am in the middle of starting web development firm right now and articles like this come in very handy.

  4. Oxford Startups

    July 6th, 2009 at 04:31 pm

    Thanks for this article – we shall let our ‘paid service’ users know about it :-)

  5. Jack Bremer

    July 6th, 2009 at 07:44 pm

    Excellent article, with points relevant to meetings as well as proposals. Inspired me to write a new page in our Best Practice Manual in fact, despite it being 4am here!

    Many chargeable extras can be offered in a way that improves the proposition rather than just costing more: Mention how you usually build on relationships with existing clients through regular meetings, monthly SEO, SEM or SM efforts and security updates – many of those will be chargeable, but are proactive and maintain dialogue. At this stage, all are without obligation and simply a recommendation.

    With regards to the final point about knowing their business, I’d recommend looking them up before initial meeting, and ensuring you go into detail about their business plan in that meeting – clients love to talk and you can only really offer proper business consultancy and the right website solution if you understand their business properly. Back this part of the meeting up in the proposal with a summary and examples of competitor strategy etc as you have mentioned.

    Thanks for the tips – helps just seeing them typed out!

  6. Ramsay

    July 7th, 2009 at 12:20 am

    Thanks for the feedback guys. Glad it helped. Hope it also helps you get some more clients!

    Ramsay

  7. Mathan Vibranarayanan

    July 11th, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Valuable inputs lol….. appreciate you helped a lot… have a nice day,….

  8. Paul

    July 12th, 2009 at 07:42 pm

    Really great article. I especially love the valuable tip on offering specials, very clever. And also the other subtle suggestions of relevant competence. If I could learn to think like this I’d be rich, rich, RICH! :D Thanks!