Stop Giving It Away

Let me ask if this sounds familiar…

You have a hot prospect. They have a decent budget. The project sounds really great for you and you’d be excited to land this. You need the money, to be honest. The prospect is on the fence and needs, somehow, to gain some trust in you before they can say yes.

So what do you do?

You decide that the best way to prove you and your team are the right solution for this project, you need to show them a design mockup, and maybe give them a full layout of the project and what it will be and do when it’s done. So you lay it all out there on the line, and then hold your breath and hope the prospect is so impressed that they say “yes! Let’s do this!”

And then it doesn’t happen. For one reason or another, the prospect balks and “goes in another direction.”

I’ve had this happen a few times. Once, I came up with a solution that the client had not ever thought of before, and admitted to me that they would NEVER have thought to do it like that. But then, they decided that they didn’t have the budget to do the project after all. Hmmm.  Four months later I decided to check and when I went to their website it had been redone by another local agency, and lo and behold, that solution that I had come up with was part of their website. Imagine that.

That’s when I decided that I would never again do any work for free.

My intellectual property was worth something, and from that day forward I was determined to get paid for it.

And you should too.

It is a fact that there are times during the sales process when the prospect needs a nudge. They need some way to gain some trust in you before they dig deep into their pocket to pay you for a large project or an ongoing monthly campaign. And that’s understandable, really.

So, how should we handle this?

We handle it by getting paid to build trust. By getting paid to complete the sales process.

Does that sound ridiculous? It isn’t.

Here are some ways to gain trust, show the prospect that you know what you’re talking about and how to deliver, and get paid while completing the sales process:

  1. Do a PAID Audit. Run an audit related to the work you’re proposing such as a Website Audit, an Accessibility Audit, an SEO Audit, or a Marketing Audit. But instead of giving it away, charge for it. Depending on the audit and the project, you may be looking at a few hundred dollars, or even a few thousand. And if you use a tool such as My Web Audit, you can add some value to the generated audit by simply writing a nice introduction and conclusion – and of course delivering a Statement of Work that outlines the work that needs to be done, and how much their investment will be.
  2. Sell design mockups. If the project is design oriented, show them what you can do by giving them a few mockups – but of course, get paid to do it. And don’t discount the price. Charge your normal design prices for a logo design, or a website design, etc.
  3. Sell Discovery. Discovery is the process of defining the project plan. This is something you will need to do ANYWAY once you start the project. And it is a service that should be priced into all of your projects – but now, instead, just pull it out and sell it as a separate product. There are a few ways to do a project discovery (aka RoadMap, Project Plan, etc) – and I get into those in my coaching program. But basically, do the strategy you normally do, but do it up front and get paid to do it.

In all of these cases, you might meet resistance. The most common is going to be “but other agencies do this for free.” When you hear that you can simply give them a gentle version of “you get what you pay for”. Let them know this is your normal process, and that it has proven very successful in the past. Let them know that you go deeper during this process than other agencies do when they do it for free. Build confidence that this is the method that is best for THEM and will result in kicking the project off on the right foot.

And right now, about one half of you are worried you’re going to lose the prospect. You’re convinced, in fact, that this will only drive people away and that your business will tank! You’re wrong. In fact, what it will do is change your business so that you are only working with clients who truly respect you and don’t expect something-for-nothing. Your days of being a desperate, worried-about-your-next-payday freelancer are over once you walk down this path.

I promise, once you get in the habit of not giving away your time and effort, you’ll never look back. And it will get easier and easier to walk away from those prospects that EXPECT you to do things for free.

Wanna know what is free though? A quick chat with me to see if I’m a good fit.