Rejection is part of the gig. And you know what? It’s okay if a prospect rejects your proposal, so long as the reason for it is valid. Perhaps your style of communication or work doesn’t blend well with the client’s. Or maybe your pricing is too far out of reach for a company of that size. Or maybe they really are happy with their current web designer.
When there’s a valid reason for rejection, accept it with grace, thank them for their time, and move on.
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When there isn’t a valid reason, though, you should stop and think about what went wrong with the proposal and why you couldn’t close the sale. There are certain arguments you’re going to hear prospective clients make time and time again. But you can’t let these common obstacles to closing a sale stop you. Learn what they are and have a plan for counter-attack (if the client and their business is worth it, that is).
Understanding Common Obstacles to Closing a Sale
Sales isn’t fun, even if it’s as simple as sending an inquiry or pitching your services via email to a prospective client. But until your WordPress business is a well-oiled machine and your reputation well-known and trusted, you’ll have to spend time actively seeking job opportunities and selling the value of what you do.
The key to closing more deals with website clients, then, is to anticipate common obstacles and objections. When you understand and anticipate what may possibly stand between you and a new client, you can proactively prepare for it and capture more business in the process.
Whether you’re already facing serious pushback in the sales department, or your business is brand new and you’re hoping to avoid it altogether, familiarize yourself with the most common obstacles developers face when closing a sale:
1. You Reached Out to the Wrong Company
As you search for WordPress jobs and gigs, you may be excited by how many opportunities there seem to be. But that doesn’t mean you should contact all of them. Searching for WordPress clients and pitching your services takes time. Multiply that by the number of prospects you reach out to and you can see how quickly that response time adds up.
If you find yourself in the position of receiving countless responses back from companies, you could end being rejected over and over again because you contacted the wrong kind:
- Their budget is too small.
- Their industry requires a special kind of website you don’t have experience with.
- Their website is already performing exceedingly well and they’re not in need of assistance.
Take time to do research into a prospect’s website (or lack thereof) before approaching or responding to them. If it’s clear you can’t add value right off the bat, don’t waste your or their time.
2. You Contacted the Wrong Person
This won’t happen often, but you should be careful about avoiding it as it can be quite costly to you. For instance:
You hear grumblings on Twitter from an “Executive” about how crappy their company website is. You make a connection with the executive, sell them on the solution of a WordPress site, and get excited about closing a deal so quickly and painlessly with the seemingly interested party.
Then they say something like, “I gotta run this by my manager first.”
You soon realize this person is an HR manager who is unhappy with the way the Careers portal is configured on the site. But this isn’t a reflection of how the corporate executives (or even marketing decision-makers) feel about the website. So, when the idea of a new website or a redesign of the current site is finally broached with the CEO or CMO, it’s instantly rejected.
3. The Proposal Was Unclear
That said, if you veer too far off to the simplistic side of what you do (“I will build your website”) and what they get (“a good-looking WordPress site”), it’ll be hard for them to see any value in your proposal. They might also see it as you talking down to them because you’re avoiding any talk about what you plan to do.
So, when making a pitch to a prospect, make sure you strike a balance. This means:
- Do the research on what they have now and be fully prepared to propose a better solution.
- Bring proof of either your skills in building sites for similar companies or proof (from external case studies) that demonstrate the results you want to get for them.
- Focus on the WordPress website as a business solution and not just another piece of collateral they have to buy.
- Be prepared to answer all the questions and concerns they have on the spot.
- Ask your own questions about the prospect’s goals and needs, and demonstrate that you have a real interest in helping them achieve them.
- Have a rough plan that covers estimates for costs, timeline, tools, process, and so on.
Without preparation and a clear picture of what you aim to do, you can’t expect that closing a sale will be possible.
4. The Prospect Was Offended
On the other hand, you could do a fantastic job of researching the prospect’s situation and putting together a pitch for the new WordPress site. However, if you make the mistake of being too critical about their current site or business model, the prospect could view this as a sign that you won’t respect their opinions as the project progresses.
Managing client feedback is a tricky matter in and of itself. But if you give off the impression that you’re the kind of WordPress developer who won’t listen to any of it, that could be enough for them to pull the plug before ever getting started. No matter how great your idea seems.
5. The Prospect Was Lacking Vision
While there’s a risk you come off sounding too vague or nonchalant about the job, there’s also a chance the prospect comes to the table with no vision at all. And, with no vision, one of two things may happen:
- They don’t care whether or not they have a working website and feel in no rush to get it done.
- They do care about having a website, but want someone else to handle everything for it (including designing a logo, purchasing hosting, setting up social media, etc.).
Both of these outcomes are dangerous because they can lead to never-ending projects as you work with lazy, indecisive, or nonexistent clients. In this case, you would likely be the one to pull the cord before ever submitting a proposal and closing a deal.
6. The Prospect Was Too Busy
There’s the possibility that you connect with a decision-maker, send them the pitch or proposal, and they respond with, “I’m really busy at the moment. Let me review and get back to you.”
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If they use the too-busy excuse and give you a vague promise to respond, that’s almost always a brush-off. A website is a key part of a business’s marketing and sales arsenal these days. If a top executive doesn’t recognize that or take steps to get theirs in prime working order, you have to wonder what’s going on.
They may be nervous about spending money at the moment. They may be stalling for time so they can vet other WordPress developers or agencies. Or the company may be in trouble and they’re in no position to hire you.
This is a difficult obstacle to encounter since you don’t want to probe too much in case the reasoning is a delicate matter. However, you don’t want to let this opportunity go if it seems like they’re just delaying the inevitable out of laziness or frugality.
7. The Prospect Believed They Could Do It on Their Own
I recently saw an article about the so-called “future of web design.” It introduced an app called Universe, which the author says “helps you build an endlessly customizable site in just a few minutes, all from your phone.”
What happens when a startup owner gets their hands on an article like that? Or what if they spotted those cheeky Keanu Reeves’ Squarespace ads during the Super Bowl?
It’s easy to see how business owners and other decision-makers might think they’re being swindled when posed with the prospect of a WordPress site that costs thousands of dollars to make.
If you get the excuse, “I can do this on my own,” then be prepared to explain why that logic is wrong.
Namely, acknowledge that, yes, there are DIY website builders that are very cheap. And while the websites that result from them might look nice at first glance, how far can they really take their business with them? Plus, there are the matters of SEO, security, and speed. How much control do they think they’ll have over those crucial elements when building a site in the Universe app?
This may be one of the more commonly encountered obstacles, but it’s an easy one to shut down if you know how to strike at the heart of the matter. In other words, it’s not just about having any website. It’s about having one that you fully control and that offers the best user experience.
8. The Prospect Was Surprised by the Cost
When you encounter a prospect surprised by the cost of a website, you should first ask yourself: “Did I clearly explain the value of this WordPress site and the solution I’m offering?”
Oftentimes, an incomplete or incorrect explanation of WordPress development services can give clients the wrong impression about what you do.
If you talk a lot about customizing a WordPress theme and using templates, does that give them the sense you’re overcharging for a design that you practically had nothing to do with? If you show examples of sites you built in your earlier years (because your portfolio hasn’t been updated in some time), does that demonstrate a lack of talent or ability to design for a modern audience? You have to think about the story you craft and how it reflects on what you can do.
Of course, there’s a chance they’re acting surprised by the cost simply because they want to talk you down on price. If you’ve determined that you properly established the value of your services and the ROI they get on it, then this might very well be the case. And you don’t want to do business with a client like that.
9. The Proposal Arrived Too Late
You’re a busy person. As is the prospect you’re talking to. However, if he or she shows interest in your initial pitch and asks to see a proposal or schedule time with you to review it, don’t sit on it. Even if clients have a tendency to disappear and respond when it’s most convenient for them, you should be as responsive as possible.
A survey from InsideSales.com found that the longer you wait after a prospect has contacted you, the less likely you are to convert them:
By having a well-researched and laid-out plan for the prospect to see shortly after they inquire about it, you’ve shown that you’re prepared to work and that you respect their time. By not having anything ready or making them wait, well, you risk giving them time and reason to find a different solution.
10. You Didn’t Follow Through
On a related note, there’s the matter of follow-through.
Sending a proposal or quote to a prospect after being prompted to do so indicates they’re primed and ready to buy. However, you don’t always hear back from prospects after making initial contact.
Whether you sent them an email with a brief pitch or you had an hour-long meeting in which you discussed the WordPress site in full detail, you can’t leave it solely to them to get back to you. Any number of things can get in the way and stop them from hesitating or forgetting about the pitch altogether.
Instead, take matters into your own hands and create a series of follow-up emails or phone calls. As the InsideSales.com infographic demonstrates, the more follow-ups you make, the greater the chances of converting a lead into a paying client.
To ensure this happens and to make it less of a burden for you to manage, create an automated system of follow-ups in your CRM.
I recognize that closing a sale with website clients isn’t always easy. In fact, it takes a lot of work to get most of them from that stage of being interested to being fully on board and ready to pay for your valuable services.
However, by understanding the most common obstacles that stand between you and a sale, you can decrease the likelihood they’ll get the better of you.