The Diablog™

Agencies: landing web projects using real-world comparisons (part 1 of 3).


What is a prospect really looking for in an agency?

I've seen a lot of sales meetings for websites. Here's an approach to selling websites that commonly doesn't work: the agency lays out their history, drops a few notable names of past customers, walks through their portfolio, and then asks the prospect if they have any questions.

Here's why you should avoid this formula. It's likely the prospect has been to your website, read your history, seen your client list, and looked over your portfolio. If they hadn't already done all that, you wouldn't have gotten a meeting with them. If you present information your audience already knows, of course they won't have any questions about your presentation.

The truth is, they probably have a million questions about how use the web to improve their business. How do I get Google to like me? Why would I invest in a custom shopping experience? How can I know if my new website is as effective as it can be? How much does a website cost? They agree to meet with you to determine if you have the answer to these questions. Showing that you do positions your firm as a valuable business consultant, not just somebody who likes pretty pictures.

Questions about how the web can improve business are often the most difficult ones to answer in a way that the customer understands. I have seen the spark of understanding - the light bulb turning on - many times. One way to light the bulb with a prospect is through real-world comparisons.

Here's an example. One question that frequently comes up is: how much does a website cost? Your ability to satisfactorily answer this question can determine your success as an interactive agency. Here are a couple real-world analogies.

  • Imagine that you decide to beat the summer heat with a swimming pool. There are many options available. You could choose to build a custom, below-ground pool. It could be simple, or it could have a deck, a waterfall, and a whirlpool. You could also choose to spend very little money to buy an above-ground pool. It would help you cool down, but it wouldn't do much for the look of your back yard, and it's not likely to become a favorite gathering spot for your friends. The more you spend, the greater effect it will have on the beauty of your back yard and your status as a venue for gatherings. So how do you decide? You prioritize how much you can afford to spend, and you balance your budget against the value your choices bring to your home.
  • Imagine that you run a store, and you decide to start offering delivery services. You could hire a kid with a bike to make your deliveries. You could also buy a delivery van. How do you choose? Some of the decision-making is obvious. If you have a florist shop, the kid on a bike may be a viable option. If you sell major appliances, not so much. Many other aspects of your business will affect your decision like the geographical size of your customer base, the value of an average sale, etc. You can also choose to spend a bit more to add advertising to your delivery vehicle, which will be more effective on the truck than the bike.

Both of these analogies show that deciding how much to spend starts with discovering what is appropriate. A website (just like a swimming pool or a delivery vehicle) really can cost a few hundred dollars, or it can cost many thousands of dollars.

These real-world scenarios can help a prospect understand that they should not be shopping for a cheap price - they should hire you to help them understand what will and will not work for their business, and then they can balance your recommendations against their budget to decide what they should spend.

An important part of the Dialogs Professional Services we provide to creative agencies is sales assistance. We help our agency partners explain the importance and the possibilities of today's internet to their customers and prospects.