What’s Your Excuse?
“We just came off a bad year; we just came off a great year; we don’t have the staff; we have too much business already; everyone we know already has one; my company name doesn’t say anything about it; we don’t have the skills; we don’t have the money; my friend is in that business; it sounds hard; the Internet is a fad; there is too much competition; I am not confident we could make money… “
Being a web service provider to printers for the past 5 years, I have heard just about every excuse in the book as to why now is not the right time to add web solutions to their product offering. I listen intently to what they have to say and try to sniff out what the real fear is that is stopping them from adding these services. I’ve seen printers take out a 2nd mortgage on their home in order to free up some cash to purchase a new piece of equipment that may sit underutilized for 6 – 12 months and not blink an eye. But ask that same printer about adding a non-print item to their offering and they’ll break into a cold sweat just thinking about it.
What I’ve boiled it down to, is fear of the unknown and fear of losing or wasting money.
Fear of the unknown could also be called, fear of looking like an idiot or fear of not being able to know all there is to know. This is a real fear. For years business owners have come to you for solutions and you have provided them with speed and accuracy. Now we are telling you to add in a new product, one that you know very little about, and you are afraid that you will not be able to deliver the same kind of quality work that you have done in the past.
And, there is the fear that maybe your client knows more about this stuff than you do. It’s possible that a client of yours could have already built one or more websites; but if they are talking about a new website, there are things they do not like about their current solution. How do you sell a product to a client who has more experience than you do? How do you answer questions professionally when you have little to no experience with what you are selling? You forget about the technical aspects of the actual building of the website and focus on finding the root of the problem. What do they like about their current site? What do they not like? What do they want to do that they cannot do now? Three pretty simple questions that do not require any technical knowledge to ask. The key is really listening to the answers and drilling down to find the real pain that would make someone want to create a new web solution.
Mitigating the fear: The biggest way to ease this fear is to be prepared and leverage your resources. Most opportunities that you have to sell a website will be planned. Scheduling a meeting to talk about a website for a client will give you an opportunity to look at what they currently have and what others in their industry are doing as well as prepare a list of questions that could help you navigate the meeting (need help with the questions that get the sale? Read this article http://www.myprintresource.com/article/11573877/the-questions-that-get-the-sale). For the times when you get cornered at a networking meeting and someone is pressing you for a price on a website, give them the same answer you’d give them if they asked you how much business cards are. It depends. It depends on the number of pages, the design level, the functionality, etc. Then attempt to schedule a meeting with them to gather the data to prepare a proper estimate.
No matter the web solution, there is a host of resources available to help you learn how to sell. The path you choose, will to a large extent, depend on your level of comfort. If you are already quite knowledgeable on hosting services and providers and can code in HTML, you can probably handle basic sites without much outside help. If you don’t know an MX record from an A record or a CNAME from a TXT file then I suggest you partner with a company that can provide much more training and support. Whatever is offered in the way of training and support, take advantage of them all. If your provider is willing to be on a sales call with you, use that resource and conference in the web provider with the potential client. Tell the client you’d like to conference in your “web expert” in order to provide the best possible solution. I’ve yet to see client object to speaking with the expert. If your provider offers marketing tools, use them. They were likely created with a strategy to position you as the expert and help you sell more.
Ultimately, experience will be your best teacher. However, leaning on others who have paved this path for you and understand the industry will help shorten the time it takes to gain the necessary experience.
Read “Is it time to add web services to your repertoire? (http://www.myprintresource.com/article/11381311/is-it-time-to-add-web-services-to-your-repertoire) to see other ways that you can help ensure profitability when selling web solutions.
For those of you who are currently providing web solutions to your customers, how did you overcome your fears? What would you do differently? Share with us below.