I’m an artist first. I care about creating beautiful, functional things more than anything else. If I could just sit in a room all day and create and pay the bills – well, that’d be just fine with me.
However, running a creative agency requires additional skill sets. It requires learning about everything that goes AROUND your art to turn it into a successful business.
“Selling” is probably the hardest thing for us artists to grasp. However, after running an agency for the past 5 years, I’ve got a good grip on it, and I’d like to help you do the same.
In fact, these days, practically everyone who calls us becomes a client.
That’s not because we’re a bunch of “slick Willy” salesmen who are good at conning and manipulation… it’s because we have a really solid process down pat.
First off, here are a few rules I have when it comes to sales:
1. I’ll never do anything that compromises my integrity or who I am as an artist. That means no lying, hyping, cutting myself short, or pricing myself higher than I feel is fair either.•
2. I’m always willing to walk away. Every prospect who calls is just ONE opportunity – not THE opportunity. That doesn’t mean I won’t passionately pursue their business… it just means I won’t put myself in a position where desperation runs the show instead of my calm center.•
3. I will be a super cool guy! My goal in talking to prospects is to be the coolest, kindest person they’ve spoken with that day. After all, how often do you become friends with the people who sell you… anything? My goal is to try to get them to laugh and smile – a lot.
With that said there are…
2 things you must have to make your sales process complete:
1. A kick-butt proposal.
Your proposal should knock their socks off. It should be clean, well-designed and gorgeous. It should also go into DETAIL about EVERYTHING your prospect gets included with their service.
For example, do you do research? What kind do you do? Why is it important? What does it contribute to the project? How much do you do?
Do you optimize web pages so all relevant info shows up above the fold? Make “Above the Fold Optimization” a point in your proposal and talk about why it’s such a good thing.
In our proposal, we outline Market Research (research into their target audience), Brand Research (research into their company), and Competition Research. We educate prospects, in the proposal, about why each phase is so important and the steps we take to complete each one.
We offer copywriting, so we talk about how the copy assumes their company’s ideal voice, while using the research to tell their customers exactly what they need to hear.
We talk about the coding process and how we test on multiple browsers, devices, etc. We explain how mobile functionality works and that it’s included too.
Take nothing for granted! Your prospects have no idea about how you work, or everything you’ll do for them. Let it all out in the proposal.
Also, you’ll want your proposal to be easily edited. We customize every proposal we send to match a client’s interests / needs. This customization goes a long way in converting sales. Actually, we probably spend a solid hour or so customizing every proposal. Every client is different, so we have to tweak the content we’ve already prepared each and every time.
2. A solid agreement.
This isn’t just to cover yourself – this is also an important psychological component to closing sales. Contracts emit security, experience, and safety. You want yours to emit a sense of, “I’ve done this many times before, and I’m not going anywhere.”
This is especially crucial if you only deal with your clients through email and phone. That’s because you have no brick-and-mortar structure that shows people how serious and committed you are.
For example, if you walk into a gym for a membership, and it’s a rinky-dink place that looks like it took them 10 minutes to set up, and in 10 minutes they could suddenly disappear… you’d probably re-consider.
But if they had a solid, beautiful front desk… marble-ﬂoored bathrooms… new, shiny equipment, etc… it emits a sub-conscious message that they’re committed and in it for the long haul.
Your contracts, emails, proposals, and phone calls ARE your “brick-and-mortar” storefront. So have a really solid contract in place.
Okay, now that we’ve got that covered… Let’s get into the “nuts and bolts” of selling the heck out of your services.
Rule #1: Always get them on the phone… And never tell your prices right away!
I’m going to assume most of your prospects reach out to you through email. If so, you probably get a lot of emails that look like this…
I’m interested in having a website designed. What are your prices?
At this point, most designers send back an email like this…
Websites cost $XXXX – $YYYY. Would you like to discuss your project?
And at this point… you likely never hear from your prospect again. Or you get a polite response, followed by no business.
Here’s why: First off, your prospect has no idea what they’re getting for whatever price you throw at them this early in the game. How could they possibly know if it’s a good value or not? Any price sounds like too much at this point.
Also, chances are they know nothing about web design! So any price you throw at them is just gibberish this early in the process. It’s important to educate them about the thousand and one things that are included, and THEN give a price.
Second off – closing sales via email is TOUGH! Your services cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. People want to talk to you to make sure you’re even real! They want to get to know you a bit before they fork it over.
So, from now on, you have one job to do when someone reaches out to you via email: Get them on the phone!
We usually send an email that looks something like this…
Thanks for reaching out :-) Our prices can vary quite a bit depending on what exactly you need.
Why don’t we set up a time to chat for a few minutes so I can learn more about your project? Then we can give you a really accurate quote.
How’s tomorrow at 4pm EST? If that doesn’t work, shoot me back a time that’s good for you and we’ll make it happen.
Looking forward to it!
Yes, we use smileys and exclamation points… in just about every email we send. I’m trying to build friendly relationships here – not show people how stiff and professional I can be!
Also, you’ll notice I didn’t ignore the price question – but I postponed it for later, and with good reason. The truth is, websites can vary a LOT in price!
This shows “S.P.” that I’m serious too. I want to discuss her project. I actually want to spend time hearing what it’s all about. There’s a good chance she’s reached out to a handful of other teams who just spit a price out at her.
So now you’ve got your prospect on the phone! What to do next?
Well, I’m all out of time for this blog post! But next time, I’ll talk about how to structure the conversation so it’s fun – and leads to more sales.
Fair enough? :-)
Then hang in there till next time. (Subscribe via email here.)
And if you have ANY questions at all about what we’ve covered so far, please don’t hesitate to ask! (Comments found here.)