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How to pitch a website to someone who already has a website

I get a lot of interest on this topic, usually from well-meaning people in Lahore or West Bengal who would like very much to turn a few emails or cold phone calls into some quick coin.

I personally don’t think that sort of tactic is a very good idea, first of all because cold calls tend to bring out cold clients (do you really want to serve someone who only cares about cheap?). In addition, businesses built around a cold-contacting sales machine may even be taking advantage of their sales employees, something I’ve witnessed myself in the past.

But I’m going to give some tips anyway, because if your job is cold-contacting people, you deserve all the breaks you can get. I did that sort of thing long ago and it really, really sucks.

The tips:

  • People usually know what’s wrong with their existing website
  • People are not hiring a website. They’re hiring a person to build a website.
    • Do they know you?
    • Do they trust you?
      • If not, it does not matter how bad their current website is.
  • Demonstrate that you actually care.
    • Know their existing website
    • Get an idea of things like upcoming events: For example, are they busy preparing for an upcoming gala or fundraising activity?
  • If you only have a few minutes (in-person contact or medium-length phone call), your failure rate is going to be really high.
    • If you only have a few seconds (email or brief phone call), your failure rate is going to be really, really high. Just understand that and accept it as normal.
      • No single sales tip will work with everyone, so you should find out what tends to work for you given a group of people.
  • Experiment
    • Try doing a couple minutes of website-research (reading their website) for one set of potential customers, then try doing 10 minutes of the same research for another set (for a set size around 20-30)
      • How did the results compare?
      • Did you notice any difference?
    • Try contacting customers of a specific field. Get to know that one field very well. Know what they need to sell, and how to sell it.
    • Try listening and asking questions more than you normally do.
    • Try to be candid about your weaknesses. For example, “I’m new to your culture and I have a funny accent, so I’m sorry if this is unusual. But looking over your website, I had some ideas for you. Your peer organizations are doing outreach using website features like X or Y, have you thought of doing those things with your website?”
  • Everyone is selling something. What does the customer need to sell, and how can you help them sell it? Can you figure that out before you talk to them?
  • Remember: You must actually care. If you don’t care, you will seem like a sales robot. If you do care, it will show in your communication.
  • If your sales organization has really bad performance metrics, like number of sales calls per hour, ask around and find a place that doesn’t do that. They are shooting themselves in the foot.

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