Last week in episode 37, we talked about where you can find web design clients.
The problem is, now that you’ve found them, how do you actually make those sales?
I’m certainly no sales professional. I am, quite frankly, an awkward, stereotypical web developer who’s never been the best an interpersonal communications.
But my sales closure rate is ridiculously high.
Want to know exactly what I do to improve my sales rates?
In today’s episode, I’m going to break down exactly how I run my sales communications and sales calls that get me from a browsing to a yes and the top 3 things that I do every time that work like magic.
Ready? Let’s go!
1. Treat Them Like a Human
Whew, this one is, well, should be a no-brainer. But do you know how many different business owners I talk to that tell me I don’t treat them like other web developers do?
I’m a coder and I think this problem is certainly more prevalent in the bro-coder community, but there are literally businesses out there that think web developers always speak in a condescending, misogynistic, rude tone and take forever to respond to any communication. Even as a woman coder, they’re never sure how I’m going to act and kind of just expect that I’d behave like every once else in my industry that they’ve met.
I’ve literally heard from multiple clients over the years that I’m a “breath of fresh air,” often in the sales stage, too.
What makes me so different? I take out my ego and just remember that I’m a human.
I talked about this more in episode 29, but customer care and how you treat your prospects is so important. You want them to trust you know what you’re doing, but more than that, you want them to like you. If they don’t, they might hire you but your position is never secure. (My human-focused approach is one reason a client fired their developer of 3 years and hired me and why another client refuses to use any other developers…ever again – her words.)
Don’t Talk Down
Part of this? Don’t talk down to your prospects!
I don’t think a lot of website builders try to speak condescendingly, but I think we often try to showcase that we’re intelligent. We also forget that not everyone understands our language and the technology that drives our business. In the attempt to showcase our expertise, we can often come across as condescending and rude.
Why? One theory I have is that technology – especially websites – is a bit overwhelming and mysterious to those who don’t get it. If you have something that’s always felt overwhelming and confusing to you, does it offend you just a little when someone comes in and treats it with nonchalant ease?
Probably a little.
Instead, and we’ll talk about this more, change up how you talk to your clients about what you do. I often stop myself when I get excited and say, “Sorry, let me get out of tech speak.” More than that, I try to use positive inflections in my voice and smile while I’m talking to them. When you’re conveying a positive tone, it’s hard for someone to get offended.
Most of my clients know that I’m just excited by what I do, but rarely do they feel I think I’m better than them because I’m a coder.
Turn on Your Video
Want to keep that positive energy flowing? Turn on your video! Being able to see your smile and facial expressions does wonders for the prospects you’re talking to! It’ll help them better understand your tone and keep them from feeling talked down to.
More than that, it reminds them that you, too, are a human. It helps them to put a face to the name and gets them a chance to get to see your workspace and a bit more of your personality.
I used to do most of my meetings in-person, but video is a lot lower stakes. I can still be wearing sweatpants or leggings and I rarely even put on makeup for calls; after all, that is the real me! I decorated the wall behind my head so they can get to know my personality a bit, too (check out the picture below).
Video just helps to humanize not only yourself, but the person you’re talking to as well. It helps remind you that there’s a human on the other end of the screen and helps you to focus on their needs. Getting to know your prospects just a little bit more than you’d think you’d need to actually goes a long way to improving your sales.
Answer Communication Within 1 Business Day
This is a big one, according to my prospects and clients. What many of them tell me is that they’ll email a web developer or designer and it will take weeks for them to get any sort of communication back.
How is that fun for anyone?
In the sales phase, you might end up losing them to another developer who answers faster. But more importantly, you’re dragging out the sales process longer than you’d need to be and just preventing yourself from getting that money and starting the project.
If you’re super busy and it’s going to take you some time to get to their request, just let them know! Often when I’m a bit overloaded, I’ll respond back quickly to let them know I’ve got their email, but I can’t make that update or talk until X date. Most customers understand you’re busy, but clearly communicating helps alleviate them from feeling ignored.
Struggle with answering your emails? I set myself three times throughout the day when I focus on mine. I’ll check and respond first thing in the morning, at lunch time, and at the end of the day. This helps to ensure all of my emails have a response sent out by the end of the day but also keep me from just being in my inbox all day.
2. Use Their Language
This one is tough when you’ve been in the industry for any length of time, but use your customer’s language when you’re talking to prospects, not yours! What’s true for when you’re writing website copy is just as true during the sales process.
This really plays into the concept of not talking down to them, too. If you’re spending the entire sales call using industry terminology and saying things that frankly your customer doesn’t understand, they’re going to walk away from that call thinking one of two things. Either (what you’re hoping they’re thinking) that you really know your shit or that you’re an arrogant ass.
Guess how often it’s probably going to be the second? Just guess.
Like 90%. And yes, that’s as scientific as any statistics Barney Stinson gives but it’s based in experience.
When you don’t translate your business and how you’re helping someone into terms that they understand and care about, you’re going to have a huge disconnect. They’re not going to really get that you’re going to do what they need you to do and they don’t really even understand what they’re paying money for. That’s not a good spot to be in when you’re asking for thousands of their hard-earned dollars.
Focus on the Outcomes They Want
Instead, you want to focus on talking about the outcomes your customer cares about. What is building that website going to do for them and their business? How will it help them grow? How will it help their life be easier?
I literally just had this same discussion with a client a couple of weeks ago. They wanted to know what we could automate to take tasks off of their plate. Knowing they wanted to do that helped me to talk about the various things I could build into their site that would automatically do the tasks they’ve been doing manually. Did I mention a couple of the plugins I used to do that? Sure, but only in the context that that plugin was going to help them and take a burden off their plate (and that it was a plugin I actually used in all my sites, so it was trustworthy).
Stay Away from “Dev Speak”
This goes out to the developers and the bro coders specifically. Don’t get lost in dev speak.
I get it. It’s sometimes hard to not talk about code, DNS, custom functions, domains, redirects, and other things that we use every time we do our jobs well.
But your customer probably has 0 clue how all of that works nor do they care. They want to know that you’re going to take care of everything you need to related to their website, but they don’t need the nitty gritty. Focus on the benefits of the work you’ll be doing for them, less on how you’ll be doing that work, and you’ll take yourself right out of the dev speak.
3. Care About Their Business’s Success
This one requires a bit of a mindset shift. If you got into development and building websites because you thought it’d be a lucrative career, it can be even harder to shift. But you have to not only care about your clients’ businesses and their successes, but show that you care.
When you care about them, truly care, they immediately become more comfortable with you. Many of the reviews and testimonials my clients provide about working with me note that they can tell how much I care about their success. And that matters to them!
Think about it, if I, the person building their website and foundation to all of their marketing, cares about the success of that website and their business, aren’t I going to do a better job?
That, at least, is what they’re thinking as I talk to them. So how do I show how much I care about their business? It’s all in the sales meeting.
Ask Where They Want to Grow To
First, I ask them where they want to grow to. Where do they see their business in the next year? In the next five? Shoot, what’s one thing that they want to incorporate that is year’s away?
Not only does asking about their future growth goals help me to build their website better, planning for that growth, but it shows them that I actually care about them more than this simple transaction.
Find Out What Drives Them
Get to know your client a bit! Treating them like a human and asking a few probing questions (without being invasive) not only helps you understand their business better and how you can market that business, but it also helps you to find common ground you can connect on.
One of the best things I talk about my clients with during the initial sales meetings is what drives them. Why did they start this business? What do they love about it? What don’t they like? What would they like to do differently?
Not only do these questions open up sales and add-on opportunities for me, but they also reinforce that I care. Their business is their baby; understanding how they got there helps me to know their whys and connect on that. And again, maybe even find some common ground that we can connect on and build up that know, like, and trust factor.
Discover Why They Love Their Customers
For many of your clients, who their customers are might be really important to them. Especially if they’re more mission-driven, asking questions about why they work with who they work with will help show that you care – about them and their customer base.
You don’t need to ask too many probing questions. Just ask who they work with and then ask them why? Why did they pick that as their target market? What about that customer base helps to drive their business forward?
Those simple questions can get you some incredible answers, not only to help you later once you’ve landed the project, but to understand their business and show that you’re connected to it.
Reinforce it All in Your Proposal
If you utilize these three tools in your sales process, you’ll be amazed at how much better and how much smoother those meetings start to go!
But it’s not all about the meeting.
After you’ve talked, you have to follow that up in your proposal. You need to reinforce that you were listening, understanding, and even connecting to what was important to your prospect throughout that entire discovery call.
The best way that I do this? I take extensive notes throughout my meetings, and even try to capture exact quotes (more or less) when possible. Then I put those exact quotes right into the language of my proposal. It doesn’t just showcase that I was listening, it is reinforcing what my potential client said. They might not even remember that that’s what they said, but it sure sounds like them! It helps them to see that I listened, understood, and provided a plan to implement what they need.
Focus on the Relationships
The most important takeaway I can give you with this? You need to focus on the relationships you’re building through the sales process and less on the sale itself.
Yes, you want the sale and you need the revenue. But if you’re 100% money driven, they’re going to sense that and it will erode some of the trust.
But if you’re focused on helping them first, getting to know them, and truly understanding their needs and helping them, that sale becomes so much easier. They’ll not only trust you, they’ll know that you understand what they need and they’ll be willing to pay the price of having you versus a competitor who just spouts off a lot of tech speak at them.
Bring the humanity back into your sales and watch your closure rate increase.