I've been running Sydney Business Web for a few years now, and have gotten to know a wide variety of customers in a very personal way. But this post isn't about my customers, the people we've won over to work with us, or even the ones who've decided not to work with us - it's about the one's who have gone MIA - Missing In Action! This happens at several specific stages in the negotiation process. Let's start off with the enquiry process.
How we Deal With Enquiries
Defining Overall Needs
During our first contacts with a customers, we quickly define their overall needs: what type of website, special facilities, time scales for delivery, design requirements etc. We do NOT accept all potential customers. Our main criterion for accepting work is: Can we do this as specified by the customer and at the price the customer expects to pay?
We have never yet added 'unforeseen costs' or 'unbudgeted costs' to a project because we always have a solid understanding with the customer from the outset. Once we have established this baseline we move on to quote.
Making a quotation for a website takes some time because each one is unique. Yes, we do use quote templates of course, but every website is different and requires special attention to detail in the quote. This is why we don't do blind quotes. Once we have gotten this far, we are committed to winning the business.
The Long Silence
It's at this point that two main outcomes occur:
1) The client accepts the quote and pays the required deposit - full speed ahead
2) The client disappears, stops answering calls and emails - and doesn't give us any feedback.
I have a long corporate history, so this behavior was puzzling at first. In the corporate world, a 'yes' or 'no' or let's talk and negotiate' response is just about universal. So why do smaller business owners walk away, leaving us without feedback? Read on!
Basically, people hate saying 'no' to people they know and like. This is a cultural reality in the western world and we have all seen it. Customers may feel 'it's too much', or 'it's not quite right', or 'I can get it much cheaper' or 'I prefer another company'. And that's fine! But having conversed with us and received our quotes, some customers are just too embarrassed to call us, or take our call and say 'no'!
We suspect this may be because so many sales people simply won't take no for an answer, and who can blame customers for that? But it does cause problems!
Please Say No! (Or Yes!)
All small businesses are time-poor. We have limited resources, so following through weekly or daily on quotes is very time consuming. When you ghost us, we don't know whether our pricing was beyond what you expected, or our portfolio didn't include what you needed or you simply found a company you prefer to us.
We hate pestering people with follow-through calls, so please let us know. We respect your decision and never, ever try to change your mind. All we ever ask is that you tell us the reason for your decision and then we wish you well and move on - no hard feelings at all.
Finally - For Some Special People - Thank You for Saying No
We would like to say a special thank you to those special people who came back to us and said 'No thank you - because..." These people are a treasure who help us to improve what we do and we really appreciate them.