You may build the best websites in the world but if you do not know how to sell your services then nobody will hire you. That is the sad state of the world. Web design is competitive marketplace and simply being a great developer or designer is not enough. You also need to know how to write good proposals and come across well in presentations.
Play to your strengths
It is easy to bite off more than you can chew when pitching for work. Do not pitch for contracts that are too big for you and avoid relying too heavily on outsourcing, as many clients are uncomfortable with this. In particular never promise something unless you are 100% sure that you can deliver on it. Failure to deliver can seriously undermine your company’s reputation.
Focus on a specific market
Identify a sector in which you have some good case studies and focusing on winning work there. Given time you can build up a strong reputation in that sector which will in turn attract more clients. Clients seek out web design companies that have experience working on similar projects so this approach works much better than the scattergun mentality applied by many agencies.
Care for your existing clients
It is ten times easier to win work from an existing client than it is to win from a new one. Not only is it easier to win new work from a happy client but they will also recommend you to others. It is vitally important that you keep existing clients happy because they should be the lifeblood of your business. If you are in the position of having to constantly find new work then you are doing something wrong. Concentrate on nurturing your existing clients and then you will quickly find new business coming to you.
Know when to walk away
It is the hardest thing in the world to do, but it is important that you know when to turn down work. There are times when the clients requirements are unrealistic or the job is simply too big. On other occasions, the chance of winning a job does not justify the investment involved in pitching for it. There is a natural tendency to want to run after every piece of work, but sometimes you just have to say no.
Question the client
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about a brief supplied by a client. Asking questions and making suggestions is a great way to build a relationship with your clients and make you stand out from the crowd. Of course, ultimately it will allow you to put together a better proposal that meets the client’s needs even when they are not fully expressed in the brief.
Write a good proposal
Here are suggestions for writing a good proposal including (but not limited to):
- Make sure you carefully cover any special requirements requested by the client (financial reports in your business etc).
- Respond to the brief by taking each of the issues raised on a point-by-point basis, rather than using a standard template for all your proposals.
- Be detailed but don’t overdo it (nobody will read a 100 page document). Include screenshots and diagrams but be wary of file size if you are intending to email the proposal.
- Provide modular pricing so people can choose which functionality to include. Always include relevant references.
Ensure your presentation is slick
The presentation is the last obstacle to overcome and so often it can be where mistakes are made. Ensure your presentation fits into the time available with ample left over for questions. Remember, by this stage the client has read the proposal and know what you are offering. The reason for the meeting is to ask questions and have a chance to find out if they feel they can work with you. Everybody prefers to work with people they like, so be enthusiastic, helpful and professional. Be prepared to discuss prices and timescales but do not promise things you cannot deliver.