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Fishing For Work...

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#1 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 02:35 PM

Okay... not a suprise, but I spend a large amount of time sat in front of the frustration machine... and look at an awful lot of sites (or a lot of awful sites).

The upshoit being that I see sites that are out of date by yonks... badly coded, not doing the business any favours from what I can see etc... and I'm so tempted to contact these companies.

Yet I am uncertain how to fish for such work.
Most work comes in through referals, word of mouth, or direct contact/networking.
Yet I want some of the sites I look at. Some are quite big... yet most are what I would call "pleasure"... something about the business, the market, the company makes a little note go of in my head and a rush of ideas floods though me.
But... I cannot simply email/call them and tell them their site has issues, is invalid, inaccessible, has security holes, is suffering on search engines etc... the majority of people either don't care, get annoyed or consider you mad.

Then there is the whole can of worms regarding cold calling, junk contacting etc.

So... does anyone actually "fish for work", and if so, please tell me how you do it.
I've had some success, I've gotten two peices of work... and I've successfully convinced several sites to be changed and improve their accessiblity - yet the ratio fo those to the ones that are rude and simply do not care is staggering!
So, I want to learn how to fish, successfully (I can get the hook in the water, but getting them to bite and reel them in is somehow eluding me).

Edited by Autocrat, 01 January 2008 - 02:37 PM.

#2 SEOigloo


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Posted 01 January 2008 - 05:22 PM

Hi Autocrat,
We did that for the first 2 years or so that we were in business. You are correct - most attempts resulted in nada, but out of the many contacts we attempted to make, some did turn into contracts.

The way we did it, offering an SEO-based redesign of sites, was to offer to do a free sample redesign of the company's homepage which they could accept or reject after they saw it. In a few cases, we actually did the redesign first, then contacted them with a link to it. We needed work so badly. Generally, we started by sending an email, and followed that up with a phone call. At most, I believe we made a second phone call.

In a couple of cases, people were rude, yes. The majority couldn't afford our help. But, we did get some of our first clients this way, many of whom we are still webmastering for years later and have strong, great relationships with.

The trouble is, we were doing this before the onslaught of spammy contacts had really hit its peak. Toward the end of our cold calling efforts, several of the clients we got started telling us that they were getting SEO/design offers every week from companies. Yikes! So, people had begun to look with a weather eye on that sort of thing.

On the one hand, it was a nerve-wracking and frustrating process.

I remember companies with Christmas gifs on their sites in July who insisted they already had a webmaster who was doing a great job.

I remember one woman we did a complimentary redesign for taking the most insane umbrage with what we'd done. Along the lines of, "how DARE you do this?"

I remember looking at site after site that so badly needed help and the almost personal feeling of let-down I had when the company failed to contact us back. Perhaps it sounds conceited, but seeing how doomed they were with the way their site was built made me feel really sorry for them. I knew I could help them, but they had to have the funds + interest to make that happen.

On the other hand, Autocrat, picking an industry and hunting up all the sites in need of help made us as fast as jackrabbits in eyeballing websites for SEO/Usability issues. It was an education in itself, whether it resulted in monetary gain for us or not.

I wish you luck with this. I'd like to hear how it goes!

#3 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 05:37 PM

Thanks for the response.

It's good to know that I'm not the only one slamming into cold shoulders :)

I think i will do a couple of tester emails and see if I can judge the responses (those that I receive)... then try logging the results and measuring it some how.

#4 Feydakin


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Posted 01 January 2008 - 10:24 PM

Go back and mine your current and past clients..

Be forward and ask them if they know anyone that may be able to use your services that "they" can introduce you to.. Your close rate will be staggering when you get a personal introduction from one client to a potential client..

Make it a lunch.. Offer to take them both to lunch to discuss internet strategies that could help "both" of them.. It's even easier to close a new client when they are watching you expand your work for one you already have over lunch..

When I did tech for a living I tried to do this at least 2x a month.. Close rate was better than 50%.. Well worth the cost of a couple of good lunches..

The phone call goes like this..

Hey Jim,
We are expanding our customer base and I was wondering if you knew of someone that could use our services?? You know us and what we have done for you, I bet you know a dozen people that we could help be as successful as you are.. Give it some thought and if you can think of anyone let me know, maybe the three of us could go out to lunch, my treat, and talk about the latest news in internet marketing / web design / social media / etc etc etc..

If that doesn't work, offer to toss in a couple of free hours of work on his site as a thank you for him helping you grow your business like you helped him grow his..

Steve -

Edited by Feydakin, 01 January 2008 - 10:26 PM.

#5 lee.n3o


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Posted 02 January 2008 - 03:00 AM

Your close rate will be staggering when you get a personal introduction from one client to a potential client..

Steve is bang on there.... A very high % of my new work is from being recommended, and from people seeing my link at the bottom of sites I have built.

#6 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 04:00 AM

As I said, I get a lot of referal and word of mouth work as is.
That goes to prove what you are saying is correct. Never done the the whoile lunch thing though.... but I do have referal rewards in place etc. (and reseller systems etc.).

This is more to do with purely going after some existing sites that I would like to play with... you know, ones that could be damned interesting, off the wall, something a little different etc.
The problem is approaching them from the cold, and doing so without causing offence.

#7 lee.n3o


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Posted 02 January 2008 - 04:40 AM

The main problem is with alot of the sites (As Miriam mentioned) is that they just don't have the money... Or just refuse to pay for our / your services because they have a "friend" who does web design :)

I do hear that alot... And the problem is that... The people who have done the site for them are usually a friend or a friend of a friend that thinks he/she is a web designer. And by you starting to say the site they built really is a pile of crap, then 99% of the time get defensive because of who did it.

I'd love to put up a link to a local estate agent here, I spoke to them about their site as I 'honestly' thought they had just thrown up their site to have something online (The site was literally a photo, and a load of text dumped in a table - All with default text styles/sizes etc...)

When I spoke to a manager, I was told..

"Oh no its fine, the directors friend looks after our systems here and has just designed and put up our website"

:oh-so-lonely: .... When I asked if the new site was the one I was looking at, the one with just a photo and some text ... I got

"Yes, so as you can see we have everything all tied up but thanks for calling"

:rofl: ... I was so close to laughing my socks off, but was polite as always :angel:

#8 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 06:21 AM

LMAO... it's frustrating as hell, but kind of nice to know there are people like that all over :)

It's how to tackle it without causing offence that I'm going to attempt to refine (should give me hours of fun).
I understand thigns like subtelty, tact, diplomacy (I may not use them often though)... but it's how to go softly softly adn still close a sale.
In some cases, I've simply given a template away, with instructions, so that an interesting/useful site gets some better coding, improves accessibility etc. - yet you still meet resistence even then.

Still, will try to keep a record and monitor it... there are probably better ways to do it, so I shall try to find them :D

#9 Feydakin


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Posted 02 January 2008 - 08:33 AM

My brother-in-law is a pure salesman.. And his close rate on cold calls is less than 5%.. But his whole job is geared toward finding just 1 new client a week.. Cold sales are so hard to close I don't even bother with them..

But as for referrals, there is a huge difference between letting your clients know about a referral program and aggressively calling them and getting them directly involved in hooking you up for new work.. Most people are so busy working their own jobs that promoting you rarely, if ever, comes up unless their friends asks your client about it.. Get your clients proactively pushing your service..

This is an exceptionally great time of year to be doing this as well.. Most 2008 budgets have not even been thought of yet and you can get in early by letting them know just exactly what you can do for them this year to make it better than last year..

#10 cre8pc


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Posted 02 January 2008 - 08:47 AM

I'm so tempted to contact these companies.


I equate this to walking up to someone who is wearing something that disagrees with one's personal taste or is totally off the mark fashion-wise and telling them they look awful and would they mind your help in making improvements. That's really invasive and rude.

As someone who reviews sites, I've never "fished" for business because I understand that when someone wants help, they look for it. They may be satisfied and not care to change and this is their right.

There are also situations where management will not pursue a logical course for usability, user centered design, user testing, software testing, accessibility and seo. They may claim every excuse out there and even have employees who know the proper way to do something but who aren't permitted to implement it.

#11 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 09:27 AM

True, true and true again :)
My sales guys (those who contract me/obtain clients on my behalf) are already on the case of new leads... and talking to a few existing clietns... the joy is that almsot all of my end clients are "almost" friends... and the relationships with them is often a pure pleasure.

As for closing sales... I usually do okay... it's the initial breach that is the hard part... how to not cause offence or even cause concern or worry.

I can udnerstand the sentiment, but if I'm doing something wrong, or badly, or not as well as I can, I like to be informed, adn if possible shown a better way.
Now I'm more than aware that the vast majoirty of folks are not like that... but then again, I'm more than a little tired of trumped up people claiming to be something they are not, charging a fortune for it and handing out something that should simply be banned.
The fact that it is taking advantage of others ignorance puts it on a level of conning people out of money, and that in the UK, many such people are actually producing what could be viewed as illegal work, as the sites produced are no where near accessible and are leaving the client/company open to legal action, as well as damaging their livelyhood.

#12 shadowbox


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Posted 02 January 2008 - 10:03 AM

in the UK, many such people are actually producing what could be viewed as illegal work, as the sites produced are no where near accessible and are leaving the client/company open to legal action, as well as damaging their livelyhood.

Approaching a company and suggesting their site is in your opinion breaking the law is a very precarious method of marketing which most prospects would probably perceive as scaremongering (even if your intentions are anything but.) If you take up this method, you should be very careful with regard to wording and method of approach.

Also consider that if you secure a redesign job based on the premise that you are going to transform a supposed 'illegal' site into a legal one, you'd best be pretty sure you know what you are doing - I know that if I were your client and I was buying a service to make my site 'legal', I'd want written confirmation that you guarantee this fact and take full responsibility should actually it not be (based on the laws in place at the time your work was completed) - I'd most likely expect your service to come with a full confirmation audit from a qualified legal professional.

#13 Clark Financial

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 10:28 AM

Since I'm one of the guys on the other side of the table, I thought I would give you my perspective.

If somebody contacted me and told me my site is terrible, I wouldn't necessarily be offended (I'm a bit of realist.) but it also wouldn't make me want to hire them. As a businessman, you would catch my attention by telling me what a redesign could do for my bottom line, not by telling me my site is stinking up the internet. I'm sure that potential improvement to my bottom line would be difficult to quantify, but if you were able to provide me some real life examples of how much more business/sales/leads company X generated after you upgraded their site, you'd have my attention. If not specific examples of sites you have re-done, maybe there have been some industry studies that show before/after results from design/SEO/usability upgrades?

I think if you approach a business owner in this fashion, they will hire you if:

1) They have the financial resources available to hire you.
2) You convince them they can make more money with a re-design.
3) You convince them you're the right person to get the job done.

I hope this helps a little.

#14 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 11:07 AM

Oaky - I'm not calling/emailing/walking in and saying their sites stink etc.
That would be completely tackless (I'm not quite that bad).
Those that I have contacted I have provided a general breakdown of hte site, the problems this could be causing, and suggesting several alternatives to help improve things.

...shadowbox... a very good point... and I'm quite certain I meet the basic and intermediate requirements ;)
I also make it quite clear that I only handle things I'm certain of, and suggest contacting others for second opinions, to verify etc.

...Clark Financial... I like the idea of the gentle and beneficial approach, and may aim more towards that in future. I cover alot of it already, but I guess that I need to make sure it is completely tech-free and plainly clear as to the benefits.

#15 cre8pc


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Posted 02 January 2008 - 12:10 PM

but if I'm doing something wrong, or badly, or not as well as I can, I like to be informed, adn if possible shown a better way.

If someone asks to be shown a better way, informing them will be accepted easier. Telling someone they need your unsolicited help is invasive.

Forums are where people ask for help. This is where its vital for members to provide proof of their expertise. In an environment such as a forums, bad information isn't well tolerated, so its best to be very sure when offering advice or admit it when not being 100% sure. It's also important to write well, use spell checker and otherwise present as much professionalism as possible. It indicates credibility.

There's nothing wrong with handing out business cards at networking events and using them to spark conversations. Put portfolios on your sites. List clients and testimonials or projects. And be where people are looking for help, so that if they like someone's advice, they can click on a site to get an idea if they'd like to do business with that person.

#16 yannis


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Posted 02 January 2008 - 12:46 PM

Telling someone they need your unsolicited help is invasive.

I totally second the above and although in the USA , people are generally more receptive to intrusions of these kind, I am sure in the UK or Continental Europe is an absolute no, no.

Why not try and get 'design' work rather than 're-design' work? Any special reason? I would try and partner with a couple of firms/solicitors that register Companies. It is amazing how many small Companies get registered each year. Approaching these Companies via a professional they trust should be much easier and you can even arrange a 'compliance statement' as well!

The value of e-mail as a marketing tool (especially cold canvassing) should be very close to zero. Rather focus your attention on different paths.


#17 bwelford


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Posted 02 January 2008 - 12:52 PM

I think Clark Financial is on the right track here, Autocrat, and perhaps I can expand on that. You have to relate to the concerns of your prospect. Some people describe that as dealing with the pain your prospect is feeling.

The problem is that a website is an immensely complex object. It's much more complicated than an automobile. Many website owners will not know what's 'under the hood'. Like any car owner, they may be immensely proud of their fine vehicle. If you suggest something isn't ticking over as it should, it may be the only person that they can talk to is their mechanic. He or she will not be happy to accept criticism from an outsider. As Kim pointed out, some website owners will be extremely put out that you are so rude as to make such comments. Rather than commenting on some aspects of the website owner may be unaware of, you should relate to their pain.

A universal concern is to get more website traffic. If a given website has some major barriers to getting such traffic, then in a message to the website owner you might diplomatically mention some of these barriers and how they could be removed. In other words, you would be giving them free advice. In the latter part of your message, you could add that there are other ways the website could perform better and, if they're interested, you would be happy to discuss how you could help.

Even this approach will receive mostly rejections. I've tried it on a few occasions when I felt really sorry for some website owner and it's produced few positive results. People often have learned to live with the status quo. Change means risk. However if you want to make unsolicited contacts, this is probably the best way. Having a mutual contact introduce you is clearly much, much better.

#18 EGOL



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Posted 02 January 2008 - 01:49 PM

Here's how I "fish for assistance".

I spend lots of time at webmaster forums and read lots of threads. In those I watch for professional service providers who post understanding, generous, careful, and competent advice for free. Then, I think... "Imagine what this person would deliver if he or she is paid." Every person who I have obtained assistance from has been found in this way.

I also know quite a few SEOs who get almost all of their clients from their forum posting activities.

So, write each post as professionally as you can. If you build a strong reputation in forums, I would not be surprised if your posting quality attracts clients. My constructive advice would be that you have lots of important technical skills to share and that you very generously put a lot of time and thought to the advice that you give. A little more time spent on composition/format might put you in a great position to attract work. You spend a lot of time working to help people, take full advantage of it.

#19 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 02:33 PM

Okay... I'm seeing some polite tact and diplomatic approaches here... which strikes me as being more likely to generate a less hurt or defensive response.

The biggest issue I see is ignorance and lack of knowledge/interest in many companies websites.
This is where I get concerned and generally feel the urge to make contact.

As a car was mentioned, and I like analogies, I'll follow on that.
When I see someone driving aroudn with a light out or a dropped exhaust, I tell them. I feel obliged to do this as they may not be aware of it, and it could be more than a hinderance. I view many sites in the same light.
If people do not know, and people to not tell them, then they will remain in the dark. THis means their business may suffer, and they could face legal action against their company.

Now I'm more than happy to accept that some people are going to view that as offensive, or univited, or plain rude. Then again, I view it as being one of the main causes for so much trouble and strife in life - people simply do not go out of their way to improve things in general - where as I'm always willing to do something to help, improve things or raise the level in general.

I started this topic off in the view of seeing if others make cold contact, and if so, how they do, what sort of reception they receive, and how they handle it.
Not only do I see responses in that vein, but it is also abundantly clear that there are differences of stance regarding whether this should be done, whether the reasons are justifiable, and how it is done counts.

So, I'll take this a step up...
If the general public do not know of internet standards, if businesses are not being told about any requirements, and if a certain percentage of those in the web design profession are not even bothering to look around and see what is neccessary - how the hell is the net to improve and become more accessible and general get better?

If people are not told, and the information is not made obviously available, then people will remain in the dark - which strikes me as being more than a little bit backwards.

Now, as I've said, I don't always make contact.
On the occassions that I do, only a few of those would be considered as offering services for payment.
In most cases, it is simply informing/advising the recipient of issues, and making suggestions of alterations/improvements/alternative methods.

So, if people are willing, lets try a scenario, and see how others would handle it.
To be absolutely fair, we could approach it from both sides of the fence, and respond as the person establishing contact and pointing out the issues, and also as the person receiving such an email/call/visit, and how they would respond.

So, if willing to play... the site is in HTML 4 (any), built with tables and divs, has a mix of embedded and inline styling, use of deprecated attributes, a total of 24 actual mistakes (improperly closed tags, typo's etc.).
It has a JS only menu, no sitemap, no contact details bar an email link.
The site is selling a handful of products as well as offering fitting services, yet there are no T&C, no Refunds/Cancellation policy etc. Though the site will take a visitors details, there is no privacy policy etc.
The site has general in-page optimisation for search engines, but lacks any real link structure, in-page links. As you go deeper into the site, the links get less on the navigation, loosing the top most levels. Further, no link as any alternative state difference/styling, and uses links based on images with no alt text and no title attribute.

Should be interesting (if anyone plays that is ;)), to see which points are brought to the attention of the site owner, how they are handled, and what your response would be to it.

Edited by Autocrat, 02 January 2008 - 02:40 PM.

#20 earlpearl


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Posted 02 January 2008 - 02:36 PM

I was a commercial real estate agent for a major international firm for a long time. My first manager told us to call ourselves real estate consutants. One of the smart people there told us to brand ourselves as "real esate problem solvers".

Whatever. Starting out and forever afterwards we were salespeople. The essence of sales is rejection. The conversion rate is always low.

If you are going to take this path I can only suggest create a specialty. In that way your sales approach is a little easier. You will always have something authoritative to sell. It almost doesn't matter what the specialty is. The only thing I would be careful about is not doing it where you would be competing against prior clients.

The expertise element leads to more referrals and easier more successful closes down the line.

Lots of luck.


#21 bwelford


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Posted 02 January 2008 - 03:33 PM

Autocrat, I wouldn't get into any of that detail with a website owner. I don't think there's any easy way of avoiding a major rejection.

Following up on what earlpearl has just said, I think the only hope is if anything is massively wrong with the website. If you want to try such an approach then perhaps we are living in interesting times. Currently many websites may well see that visitors are using the following browsers:
Internet Explorer version 7 - say 40%
Internet Explorer version 6 - say 30%
Firefox - say 25%

There are a surprising number of websites that break in one or other of these browsers. If you feel you have an expertise in correcting such problems, then why not approach website owners whose websites break in this way. You could offer to come in as a support to their existing web master, if that would be helpful.

#22 EGOL



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Posted 02 January 2008 - 03:46 PM

Autocrat... Here's something to think about...

How much time does it take to do an evaluation of a site, prepare a list of necessary improvements and present it to a site owner? I think that you would be better served by putting all of that time to a more productive use. That is very labor intensive marketing.

If you are doing this in an effort to get a return on your time invested, I think that this method isn't effective. Go for ROI by using another method of securing business such as advertising and building a model site that demonstrates perfect practice.

If you are doing it because it is a personal crusade, then why not just offer your services without charge to a great nonprofit site owned by a cause that you enjoy? That way 100% of your time goes to improve the web.

#23 kulpreet_singh


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Posted 02 January 2008 - 05:14 PM

I equate this to walking up to someone who is wearing something that disagrees with one's personal taste or is totally off the mark fashion-wise and telling them they look awful and would they mind your help in making improvements. That's really invasive and rude.

Just to play on the other side of the argument --

I agree, that would be rude and invasive, but people with bad fashion sense are not really catering to customers, and you can not really offer them the potential of more profit based on your advice. However, with a website cold call/e-mail proposal, even though you run the risk of being thrown into a spam filter, you can pick up a few people who are just getting started in ebusiness and actually were looking for some help.

I think this is more like physically walking into a place that had a bad storefront, or no signage, or poor access, etc. and giving them your *humble* and honest opinion and an offer of professional help based on your credible experience and knowledge.

I think the least it would do is cause them to think again about their homepage, banners, useability, copy, etc., and it could actually help them in the longer run - whether or not they choose you to do the redesign/redevelopment.

Edited by kulpreet_singh, 02 January 2008 - 05:19 PM.

#24 tomnic


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Posted 03 January 2008 - 12:11 AM

Hi Autocrat,

I have done a little bit of cold calling in the past and have made some good client relationships as a result. But there is undoubtedly a very high rejection rate that you suffer through. You need to know in advance what your approach will be and your objective. From my experience the best way to think of these encounters is to have as your goal simply to move the sales process forward. This may just mean having a brief conversation with a key person and then having them agree to go to the next step. The next step is typically another appointment either on the phone or in person.

You've really got to know what you are going to say and practice it in order to sound professional. There are really just a few seconds to make an impression and even the best people will get hung up on sometimes. I would really avoid being overly critical of the person's website and would probably even try to find some way to complement them.

Probably the best way to have a conversation is to ask questions once you have the right person on the phone with you. Maybe something like " I'm just curious, but do you have anyone helping you bring traffic to your website?" Or maybe "How often do you update your web site's content?"

I read several books on the topic when I was getting started and those that were most helpful (and the least sleazy) were these by Stephen Schiffman on Cold Calling and Closing.

Just for the record cold calling and selling are not my favorite things, and I don't spend a great deal of time doing either at present. The biggest problem I had was not necessarily finding clients or projects this way, but in actually being able to balance my time so that I could keep my "sales funnel" full while doing enough work to make a living at the same time!

The upside is that you are planting seeds this way. Once you obtain a good client they keep coming back and they bring referrals. Meanwhile it undoubtedly requires a thick skin to do this!

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 05:50 AM

lol - I don't really care about rejection. So long as I have tried, then I am satisfied.
As for thick skin, try selling credit cards :)
(Even when you have proved to them that it will save them money, get their bills down, and instructed them on how to 'juggle' non-existent funds, some people just cannot accept it and have to say no.)

It is more towards a personal crusade, a I think ...kulpreet_singh... kind of got it worded in a more understandable way. I can fully appreciate it if the vaster percentage of folks don't really worry about hte state of the web, but I hate the idea of people being ripped off, that there are awful sites going up that are ever so likely to harm a business, as well as all the legal issues. I do not expect anyone else to share such a view, nor to take any action on it - but I do.
The sorry truth of things is that so many people will become suspicious of anyone attempting to help them, and assume the worse.

As for hte more practical side of things, and the business approach... yes, I think looking at the site and finding the holes that could be fixed to benefit the site adn increase traffic, improve retention and conversions woudl be a more beneficial approach and more likely to succeed.
As to the the time it takes... to examine a site only takes a few minutes. To right it all up could take up to an hour (unless you alread have a bunch of stock text for the more common issues ;)).
As I often do this without thinking of a business, I'm not overly worried about the time spent on it... I keep iot to a resonable amount and only do it on the odd occassion.

#26 tomnic


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Posted 03 January 2008 - 09:48 AM

I don't really care about rejection. So long as I have tried, then I am satisfied.

It sounds like you are well equipped to approach lots of web site owners! :)

The sorry truth of things is that so many people will become suspicious of anyone attempting to help them, and assume the worse.

I think this is really the heart of the problem. Most people immediately throw up barriers when they perceive that they are being approached by somebody trying to sell them something. It doesn't matter if your intentions are noble if you can't get past that initial negative response. Ultimately making progress with cold contacts is about salesmanship.

#27 bwelford


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Posted 03 January 2008 - 10:36 AM

.. and salesmanship is about selling yourself before you sell the product you're pushing. The logical reasons for buying the product will not make the sale. However if the prospect feels that it would be good to do business with you, then selling the product becomes very much easier.

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 10:50 AM


Then again, I've always been of hte opinion of htings that sell themselves are often better than those that need
selling (ok, could be a gross generalisation... still, the idea sticks :)).

As for not offering some sort of insight/explanation/reasoning as to what the problems are, how are they to know what the problem is?
Otherwise wouldn't I simply be contacting them and basically going...
"... Hi there, I see that you have put alot of effort into your site, but cannot help but notice that it probably isn't doing all that it should for you.
I'm betting htat you don't really get a lot of traffic, and that a fair number of visitors leave your site in under a minute.
If you would liek to know more, then feel free to contact me. ..."


That just seems more than a little general and not exactly likely to illicit much response (then again, it could be bang on perfect, as I haven't tried that, I wouldn't know).

Maybe I will go talk to some of my clients... and ask them what there reactions would be... and how they would like to be approached.
Not exactly a perfect pool to test in, but at least I would have some external input from it, and coudl start knocking up a framework based on that.

#29 cre8pc


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Posted 03 January 2008 - 11:14 AM

This has been an interesting discussion, esp. for me because I'm a salesperson's worst nightmare. I've even argued with the poor cashier's whose companies force them to try and sell company credit cards when you go to pay your bill. They try so hard to impress you with their "10% off" statement. 10% is nothing compared to the interest if you can't pay off the balance at the end of the month....which of course they hope is the case :)


Cold calling is not the issue here for me. Cold calling is a long held sales practice. Like someone suggested in the thread, it's success depends on the salesperson and their skills. It's rare I meet one who has them.

Intent and motivation are everything. If I'm approached as a cold call with the announcement that I'm doing something wrong or incorrect with my website, I'm immediately going to be on the defense. Again, as someone who is hired to help website owners with their usability issues, I'm keenly aware that they're emotionally attached to their sites. They've picked the colors. They've made something they're proud of. It's when they realize it's not performing that they're ready to seek help and this is when they're open to hearing from those who can help.

It's harder to sell to those who aren't aware they have a problem or stubbornly refuse to change. It sounds like Autocrat wants to approach with the idea of teaching and by the way, I can sell my services to you. Any parent knows that you can advise and guide until your head falls off but your kid is going to need to learn their lessons their way, in their own time.

I'd focus on marketing one's services and branding, and applying many of the suggestions here for getting the word out, so that when someone needs you, they have information to help them determine who is credible, has the expertise, attitude and skills to be hired.

#30 earlpearl


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Posted 03 January 2008 - 06:42 PM

here are a few things I learned (the hard way of course :) )

Develop a script and practice it before you start calling. It should sound natural before you start speaking with people.

Come up with a helpful suggestion that will peak interest. Delve into sites and figure out what could be helpful. It might not be the obvious problems that the sites show on face value to you...but it might be the end result......ie lots of traffic but no conversions.....lots of traffic but visitors never moving off the first page etc.

Be an expert on something that would support the purpose of your call. It virtually doesn't matter what the expertise is. It should support the purpose of your call.

Be able to quickly show the expertise in a way that should be meaningful. For instance sending examples of your work...or anything.

Try and open or quickly add into your presentation a question that is open ended. By that a question that will get the person on the other end of the phone to answer with a complete sentence rather than a yes or no or very short answer.

Once that person has responded with an open answer be prepared to respond to that person with something that supports your expertise and go for that quick close....

for instance as suggested a follow up call or visit in which you sent the person on the phone something that supports your expertise and supports the response to the open ended question.

Lots of luck. It takes a thick skin.

I remember a physical "warm call" I made on a potential customer way back when I was in training.

The potential customer had a store in one " specialty mall" type setting and we wanted to convince him to look at our "specialty mall"

We got the guys attention and showed him renderings and data and other relevant information. The guy asked how much it would cost.

We gave him the basic rent and told him there were add ons for his share of this and that to operate the property.

The guy said something like....I'd pay the rent but I'm not paying those other costs.

My senior colleague...said something like....."these costs are fair...everyone has to share them to keep the property working".

The guy said...Fair....Fair. Fairs are where pigs sh*t. This is business!!!!!

We didn't get the business. :)

#31 OldDog


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Posted 05 January 2008 - 10:55 PM

This is my first post to this forum. I do not yet have a website design business, though I plan to make the leap some time this year. This has been a really interesting thread. Several good points have been made and great techniques brought up, but one area has not been addressed concerning the subject of cold calling.

That is the restrictions brought about by the National Do Not Call Registry. It might be a good idea to review the information on their website (https://www.donotcall.gov/) before making a call to someone out of the blue. If they really get upset about the call, you could end up with a complaint filed against your company.

Just one more thing to think about, and another reason why an introduction of some sort before a call would be the best way to approach a potential new client.

#32 tomnic


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Posted 06 January 2008 - 02:36 AM

That is the restrictions brought about by the National Do Not Call Registry. It might be a good idea to review the information on their website (https://www.donotcall.gov/) before making a call to someone out of the blue. If they really get upset about the call, you could end up with a complaint filed against your company.

Hi OldDog,
My understanding is that the Do Not Call registry only applies to consumers not business to business. Looking at the website reference seemed to confirm this. Am I mistaken?

#33 OldDog


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Posted 06 January 2008 - 12:29 PM


Yes, you are correct, the Registry was set up for consumers. There is a section that refers to B2B calls, but for the purposes of this discussion, it doesn't apply (refers to the sale of durable goods).

The challenge with the web business, though, is that you never know who you are calling. I have friend who ran her business out of her home selling goods through her website. All of the phone lines at her home were on the registry, yet she would receive a call about 'helping her' with her website every couple of weeks. She would politely decline the offers, explain the registry and log who called, prepared to file a complaint with the next call.

There is a fine line there with home businesses and I'm sure it could be argued both ways.

Just thought I'd bring it up.

#34 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 02:29 PM

Technically, if you run a business from home, and provide a number for contacting that business, I would have thought it was viewed as a business number.

It is still the issue that cold-calling is often a bad step, and will generally have a poor response rate (unless you are a phenominal sales person).

Even making email contact is not going to be any better... as that is considered spamming and strongly disliked as well.

All I can say is that I'm glad I'm not trying to obtain any real business from such an endevour, simply fishing for choice pet projects and to offer some insight to certain sites/businesses.

#35 geeurbie


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Posted 22 January 2008 - 01:31 AM

I have been tweaking my marketing program of late. I have found this discussion very enlightening. I plan on making some changes based on what I have read.

I have been going after clients of local web designers who sells SEO for as much as $150.00 an hour. This particular company uses the same title tags on all pages and doesn't seem to know that page descriptions can be used on other pages other than the home page! The problem is that since the websites are local they still manage to get first page placement of a keyword or two. The few responses that I received pointed this out. So they will not give me the time of day. They believe that they have arrived. So I have abandoned this approach.

What I did find refreshing was that someone mentioned being a problem solver. That was the mother load response for me. My new approach is this. We will go with an old school approach here. We have written two short paragraphs. One that introduces ourselves. The other offers our assistance as problem solvers.

The old school part is that we will use USPS, yes, that's snail mail! We will hand address our envelopes and will not use a return address. Then it becomes a numbers game. Even given the low response rates for direct mail, we believe that we can come out ahead. Let's assume a response rate of 2% x 1000 mailings or 20 responses. We will assume a 10% closing rate, or two new clients. Let's also assume stamps, envelopes, printing and labor of a $1.00. That's $1,000.00 for two new clients.

Then we will assume that those 2 new clients spend $1250.00 for our services. So the end results is that it would take $1,000 to gross $2500.00. That seems reasonable to me. The reality is that the cash out of pocket will be more like $450.00. The real unknown is the time element. Since, I usually, spend 2-3 hours a day blogging for links or working on Squidoo. I could most likely put the time to better use. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 05:29 AM

Now thats fishing... and it sounds liek a plan.
To increase the chanes, I would conduct a bit of research and still semi-target ... either by market/business-sector (all Estate agencies, Car Sales, Photographers etc.) and key in some of the text to suit their business type.
That way you incorporate at least some 'we care enough to look you up' information, and that is often picked up on.
Then there are the general sales tweaks, such as the usage of 'us' not 'I' and 'we' not 'you and I/us'... added with personal addressing, a good 'hook line', and you increase the appeal.

Be interesting to know the results... particularly for variants (I'm a strong believer that a ffew words can make all the difference).

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