Tire kickers visit car dealerships, kick a few tires to show interest, but never ultimately buy a car. Tire kickers can waste a lot of time and energy from a salesperson, even though they have no intention of committing to a purchase. For creative agencies, tire kicker clients are the ones who want some sort of work done, but they likely don’t really know what that means; much less how much it will cost them. Every creative agency gets the occasional tire-kicker client inquiring about services and pricing. If that’s you, you’ll likely spot a few red flags early on that indicate the prospective client has no interest in your body of work, your quality, your process, or your reputation. In other words, they don’t necessarily want to work with you. They’re just looking for someone. Anyone… and they want to know “the price and all that’s included”.
If you’ve positioned your brand as having the lowest (or most competitive) price, then move along. Nothing to see here. However, if you’ve positioned your agency based on the value of your process and your work, then you’ll want to move tire kickers along quickly. Here are a few mantras I personally hold to that guide me through the sales process:
I will serve everyone
This does not mean I will work with every prospective client. Rather, it means that everyone who connects with our brand should feel like they’ve been served well; even if that means me pointing them in the right direction. Most times if I’m on a sales call and I discern it is not a good fit, I will help the prospective client by educating them or giving them the information I would want if I were in their position.
I am unyielding in our process
I do this for a living. I know what it takes to pull off a project like this. I’ve developed a proprietary process for executing creative projects. My process is my value. The end product is the souvenir. If a client is trying to dictate the process in the sales call, it’s a red flag. The client doesn’t get to set the terms. They get to tell me the challenge they need to be solved and I get to tell them how we can solve it. If the client knows how to solve the problem, they don’t need me.
I’ve found most times when a client has their own process in mind, they’re looking for a pixel-pusher; someone to execute creativity based on their direction. It is my obligation to explain my process and see if it works with what the client needs.
I assume prospective clients are not a good fit
Nobody likes talking to a salesperson. The idea we have in our minds is that a salesperson is manipulative. They are incentivized to sell you something you don’t need by packaging it in a way that sounds like you do need it. This is NOT my approach to sales. At Butler Branding we have a pretty good idea of who our ideal client is. As such, I cannot assume that every business fits that mold. When on a sales call, my assumption is the prospective client I’m talking to may not be a good fit. Then throughout the conversation, I need to be convinced of the contrary.
An Example From Real Life
Here’s a real example from a prospect who inquired on our website and made several comments that, to me, were red flags.
Red Flag 1: He did not want to schedule a 45-minute initial consultation. He said his questions were short (mostly around pricing and services) and would not require 45 minutes. However, my process is my process. I know I cannot help him find a solution in a few minutes. He had a process in mind and was looking for an agency that would answer to him.
Red Flag 2: Our questionnaire asks for a budget (as a rough idea of what the client is looking to spend). It’s common for the client to have no clue what their budget is or what it should be. That’s totally fine. However, this client said, “I’d like to find out options and costs first, then I’ll figure out the amount I need to spend”. He was looking for a list of services with corresponding prices so he could choose what he wanted; like he was ordering off the menu at Mcdonald’s. In other words, solving a problem wasn’t his priority because he already had the solution in his mind. His goal was primarily to save money on a very particular set of services.
Based on a couple of emails back and forth I discerned this client was likely not a good fit. However, I wanted to stick to my mantra – I will serve everyone. Below is what I sent him.
Thanks, (CLIENT NAME).
Just to give a little perspective on getting your website designed and the potential associated costs, here are a few options I recommend.
Option 1: DIY
Use a website builder company such as SquareSpace where you basically just pay for the hosting ($30-ish/month), and use their templates to make your own website.
Option 2: Hire a Freelancer
Option 3: Hire an Agency
This is the most expensive option and the prices range wildly from a couple of thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Full disclosure, the smallest websites we typically work on are about $10,000 at Butler Branding. This option is for the company looking for something completely custom that a freelancer or smaller web design company might not be able to do.
As in all things – you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for the most cost-effective option, we are not it. I’d recommend option 1 (even if that means hiring someone internally to get it set up on a template) or option 2. However, if you’re looking for a fully custom option where a strategist is leading the direction and telling you how the website should be built and designed in the best way for your users, then option 3 is the best route to go and we can definitely help.
Looking forward to our conversation!
P.S. The client respectfully canceled our call, saving everyone a little time.
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