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How to Land High End Web Development Contracts.

This is how you land a contract for web design services:

  1. Send the lead a proposal
  2. Wait for the lead to sign the contract and send the down payment.
  3. Business will grow overnight.

Yea right.

We know that doesn't work. If it did, we actually wouldn't have to work to get business.

I've learned over the years that there are key components to winning new business in the web development industry. I believe there are 3 key factors:

  1. Knowlege and expertise
  2. A portfolio full of high end work and satsified clients
  3. Trust and confidence that you'll deliver what you say you'll do.

1. Knowledge and Expertise

Sure, you've got to be really good at what you do, but that's a given if you're selling any service as a professional. You have to go beyond the standard to win the high quality clients. This encompasses knowledge of the industry (you can't fake it, clients are savvy and they shop to get educated) in all aspects of the service offering you provide.

Honesty is the best policy. If you're not exactly aware of a specific technology request that a client is requesting, just say so. It saves you and them time and you don't want to win business that you have to study to pump out. If you're a top notch web agency however, you'll be up and up on the trends and playing with them in your spare time. So when that client asks you about a new feature they've seen elsewhere, you'll say "oh of course, let me show you some examples of our work implementing similar technology".

2. Portfolio - both of work, clients and industries served

One of the first statements any potential client asks is: "Show me some of your work." Sure most have already perused your online portfolio, but they want to see more. They want to see work that relates to the project they are embarking on. If a company makes cheese, they want to see that you may have served a manufacturing or food services company in the past. Once they do - there ensues an immediate bond of trust that you understand them and are more likely to be able to service them well.

The more examples the better. I see web firms display portfolio pieces that are old and below par (I have to admit we haven't updated our portfolio in about a year). But really, you're either good or you're not. Don't list pieces you're not proud of. On the other hand, many web companies service niche demographics, so make sure your pricing and services commensurate with your experience and portfolio.

Good references are key.

Pro actively offer references to potential clients of past or current customers that are satisfied with your work. Always ask permission before using a reference. It's just professional to do so and you don't want a past client to be caught off guard. If you're trying to land a deal with Microsoft, you'd better have some references of larger firms in the technology or software sector that were provided similar servicing.

You're not going to land Nike because you built Larry shoemaker a mom and pop website. So although I always say "it never hurts to try", you don't want to ruin your chances later because you're not ready for that type of bid.

Bid on projects you know you can handle and do well - otherwise you'll get into a project that becomes a nightmare.

A side note on "high maintenance clients":

I used to think there were high maintenance clients and low or "no-maintenance" clients. I realized overtime that the label put on a client is in direct correlation to the expectations and communication (or groundwork) we lay down prior to initiating a client/vendor relationship. When expectations are clear and project scope is detailed, there are no surprises and everyone is happy. That doesn't' mean there aren't a few out there that try to get something for nothing. I've met a few of those, but they will typically not go with you if you're clear up front about your charges and fees in relation to the services you provide. Let them go to your competitors, you'll be better off. =)

3. It all comes down to TRUST

Are you confident in your firms abilities to perform? Do you have plenty of experience in a wide array of projects that span the web design and development spectrum? Are you honest? Does your firms mission include integrity as a core value in its culture?

If you can't answer yes to all of these, your potential client will sense it immediately. Honesty really is critical to landing business.

Tell your potential client the truth. If you don't think it's worth their time to endeavor in a phase of or, in the entire project because you don't think they'll make back the revenue based on the expense, then tell them that. Show them where they can save money by tweaking just a few components of the project. Don't get greedy. Think long term. You have to be tactful, but offer some free consulting up front to assist your client in being successful. If they see you're on their team, they'll want you working for them and guess what?: they'll make money and come back to you over and over.

In the end the client will go with a team that even costs a little more if they know they can trust them. The best clients don't' shop on price, they look for quality of work and a trustworthy team. If you can be competitive with price and show them you know your stuff in addition to instilling that confidence, you'll land contracts all day long. Remember - be real and the potential web client will sense your character.


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