How to Sell Web Design Services

Suzanne Scacca.
April 11, 2019
How to Sell Web Design Services.
It’s becoming easier to design websites, what with Wix, Squarespace, and even now WordPress providing DIY site builder tools. On the flipside of that, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to convince even the least technically-savvy business owner that they shouldn’t try to build their own website. Sadly, the rise of the site builder isn’t the only excuse prospects have for not wanting to work with web designers. In this post, I’m going to explain the most common reasons why prospects say “no”, or “not now”, or “not you” and what to do about it.

“I don’t have time to talk about this. Can you just send me an email with the information?”

You’re being given a brush off before you’ve ever had a chance to make your pitch. That’s because they view a website as a burden. When you hear this objection, gently explain that it’s okay, what you have to tell them won’t take too long. This isn’t about stealing their time; this is about giving more of it back to them. Just make sure you come prepared with a clear explanation of what you’re going to do for them (focus on the benefits, not the features) and be able to explain it quickly.

“I don’t need a website. I have a Facebook / LinkedIn / Google page”

Explain that, while social media is indeed a necessity in this day and age, nothing can substitute for a website. With a website, the business controls the narrative of their story. Plus, the business doesn’t have to compete with surrounding links and ads and other company mentions. The website is their dedicated space to proclaim to the world wide web: “This is what we do!” In addition, websites can do things that social media and a Google My Business page cannot; like accept reservations and appointments; or sell memberships, digital downloads, and physical products; or actively target specific keywords for ranking in search results. A website is a powerful tool they can’t afford to be without.

“I already have a website [or web designer]”

If you hear this excuse, then you’re in trouble. It’s either because: a) You didn’t do your research to see if they had a website or one in the works by another designer. Which shows a lack of planning on your part. Or: b) You knew they had a website, but failed to get right to the point and explain: “I happened upon your website recently and realized it had serious issues with X, Y, and Z.” These decision-makers don’t have time to waste. If you’re not prepared to cut to the chase and explain why you’ve approached them with the idea for a new and improved website, they’ll happily make any excuse to get you to go away.

“I don’t need a designer, I’m going to build it myself”

This goes back to the earlier idea of the site builder replacing the web designer. When faced with this objection, simply explain that cheap site builder platforms are all well and good for small personal sites and businesses that don’t plan to scale. For anything more than that, though, they need a robust content management system and professional designer to build out a website that does everything they need it to, while also ensuring it’s future-proof. Neither of these things can be accomplished by someone without an expert-level knowledge of the web design landscape.

“I’m nervous that your team is too small / You’re not experienced enough”

This is a tough one to argue if your business is new and you don’t have a healthy portfolio to show off. That said, what gave you the confidence to approach the prospect in the first place? If you have a process, documentation, and professional project management system in place, walk them through it over a live screen-sharing session. If you show them how buttoned-up of a business you run (even if it’s just you), you may be able to cast aside all doubts with that level of transparency.

“I don’t think you understand my business”

By now, you have a clear niche that you design for and you know the space well. If that’s the case, then this objection should never come up. If it does, send over some examples of the kind of work you’ve done for clients in a related industry or locale (whatever your niche happens to be). Demonstrate that you have the skills and know-how to design the perfect website for them. Then, revisit your pitch and rewrite it. If you’re not clearly explaining your niche during these early exchanges with prospects (or even on your website), redefine it to ensure you never hear this objection again.

“We can’t afford that”

If you’ve named your price and get this objection, there are a number of things going on here. The prospect either: a) Really doesn’t have any budget at the moment. (If that’s the case, thank them for their time and plan to follow up in a few months’ time.) Or: b) Doesn’t see the value in what you’ve proposed. (If you’re not able to clearly reiterate the value of a website built by you, don’t waste your breath arguing — and don’t drop your price. Simply walk away. Then, revamp your pitch and proposal to ensure you properly explain the value of a website in a language they understand (i.e. you get more leads/sales/etc.)) Or: c) Is a bargain-hunter. (All this prospect wants is a website done for cheap. They don’t care about quality, so you should leave them be.)

“This other designer says she can get our site on the first page of Google in 30 days”

One of the problems with encountering prospects like this is that it always puts you on the defense. No matter how illogical their argument may be, or what sort of insane promises the competition may make, don’t try to fight them if they’re adamant that you can’t build the site they need. Another thing to remember: don’t make a promise you cannot deliver on. Instead, try to counter this argument by depicting a reality you can deliver on: “While your site might not be at the #1 spot on Day 30, we can increase your leads by 15% over that same timeframe.”

“I don’t have time to sign the contract. Can you just get started and I’ll sign it later?”

If they’re putting off signing the contract, that’s a huge red flag. This is the kind of client that would be abusive, drive you into scope creep, or disappear for months on end without making a single payment. If they’re unwilling to sign on the dotted line, take that as a clear objection. Or, better yet, you be the one to object and move on.

Prepare Yourself to Answer the Most Common Objections

There are many articles that advise business owners not to hire a web designer to build their website. In all fairness, those articles are right — but only when they argue that they shouldn’t hire a certain kind of web designer. Namely, one that’s unwilling to learn about their business, that won’t design a website that aligns with their goals, or that’s uncommunicative and unprofessional. In that case, those articles are absolutely right. However, if you are a top-notch designer (which you are), you can’t let this kind of harmful journalism get inside prospects’ heads and hurt your business in the process. By preparing yourself to answer the most common objections, you can address prospects’ concerns before they ever have a chance to open their mouths. Featured image via Unsplash

Suzanne Scacca

Suzanne Scacca is a freelance writer by day, specializing in web design, marketing, and technology topics. By night, she writes about, well, pretty much the same thing, only those stories are set under strange and sometimes horrific circumstances.

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