I was reading a blog post today on my designer Kean’s blog on his Client Tip 1: Budgets and it rang true to what we try to do on a daily basis. It’s a fine art to getting the cost of a project right for both the company doing the work and the client and all about matching expectations. As a company we can gauge how long and therefore how much labour cost it will be, and for the client they need to feel like that they have got great value for money.
At Bronco we don’t have sales people and don’t do sales pitches to companies, as we are very lucky that we get the majority of our work by referral. Most of our enquiries for SEO, Web development and PPC come from people who have either been recommended to us or people who have done their research and found either Dave or Bronco. I handle all of the enquiries coming in and do all the meetings with the clients on the web dev side and send out all the proposals for the SEO work.
I have had to adjust my business technique to become more of a sales person … but certainly not a pushy sales person. When I finished University I started work at a local multinational company called Express Terminals, now The Express Group. When I started back in 1996 they were one of the leading repairers of printers in the UK, and supplied every last cog and screw for 1000’s of models of printers that were being maintained. Even though I walked away from Uni with a 2:1 in Business Management I started at the bottom of the pile on £8k a year in the Purchasing Department chasing overdue orders and updating the due dates for lots of parts on the system. I moved my way up through the purchasing department and ended up becoming the Purchasing Manager in 2001 after learning every part of the business. So as a purchaser it was my role to get a bargain and strike a deal… but today I need a different set of skills to succeed.
I am a big hater of the pushy sales person and if they are happening to sell people as a recruitment agency who cold call me on a regular basis I can easily flip my lid! So as a sales person I find myself being honest and will speak in a language that the customer will understand. (Language not in a foreign language, but on their technical level). I am not adverse to telling a prospective SEO client that their site would need a complete rebuild if that’s what will get them the results, rather than taking their money and doing a poor job. I am also not adverse with SEO clients to determine what their online marketing budget is, and what their keyword targets are before we take it into the proposal phase. This really helps work out expectations and what they value. This is very important as we often have people ringing us who have already been quoted the £300 a month for “guaranteed” top placements … hmmm how can you guarantee a placement in Google when it’s Google who really control everything?
Perhaps my sales technique can be best described as “straight to the point” and if we are not going to fit in with their expectations of a low budget and top ranking then they are best going somewhere else and keeping their fingers crossed.
I have also been known to turn business away if people don’t need SEO. If they want to rank for a term that a) is out of their budget and they wouldn’t reap the cost back from the ranking, or b) more often people who just wouldn’t be able to physically handle the orders or enquiries if they were top for their target term. With any cost whether its SEO or Web Dev we always aim to pay for ourselves in the long run by either a better performing website or an increase in traffic that will bring in the increase in revenue. With the SEO it normally works out that the revenue generated from the ranking way outstrips the cost of the SEO.
In terms of quoting on projects we do have a value for work that we carry out, whether it is an Ecommerce system, a complex Content Management System or a SEO Consultancy retainer. Often in a web dev meeting for instance if a client has a list of requirements I try to outline what is doable for certain pricing, but we tend to spec out a job based on what they require. If we have a web dev client who has been diligent and shopped around for a few quotes from other companies we sometimes get to see some of the details and I am always surprised about the extra add ons that some companies charge for. When I do a web dev proposal I will spec out the elements and functionality of the site and give an overall project cost, and tend not to give a price for every section. It’s just a bit easier that way. Sometimes I end up under pricing the project, but hey we are all still learning!
There is obviously no perfect way to sell anything, but I try to be friendly to our clients and happy… get on their level and always be honest. That way we can maintain a long term relationship and grow with each other.