So here's the story – I'd been looking around for someone to take an old, template-based website I've had for a while to an updated look with a slant toward the speaking side of my work. An acquaintance suggested a small solopreneur firm out of town, I e-mailed for some info, looked at some of their work, and decided to talk with the woman. We decided to speak on a Monday, at which time she wanted her team to be on the call to listen to what I wanted. She also mentioned that she'd be happy to chat informally over the weekend to get to know each other a bit. (Point 1 – over that weekend, I noticed, she didn't call – no biggie, but still, lack of initiative there.)
Monday came, no call from her, so 10 minutes after the hour I called her. She answered, sounding surprised, with dog barking in background. Reporting a sore throat and a visit to the doctor earlier that day, she said she didn't feel like talking and had e-mailed me a few hours before to reschedule the call. Hmmm….doctor in the morning, but no “let's cancel” e-mail until 90 minutes before the call (point 2). Feeling sorry that she was ill, I agreed to a call the next day.
Next day, on Tuesday, she called. I quickly noticed that there was no team on the line, only her. We talked and I told her specfically that I wanted a site that I could go in and change easily, the type of links I wanted, and that I wanted a WordPress blogsite. The website was to be only 4 pages, pretty small, but with a lot of links. The call was pleasant enough, she asked good questions, and mentioned that her company did develop in WordPress often. She agreed to have a proposal to me by Thursday. I thought that was a little long, but given that her team was not on the call as planned (no explanation given for that), OK. (Point 3 – no team on the call and Point 4, solopreneurs usually can give quotes right then and there or at the latest in 24 hours).
Thursday came and went, no proposal arrived. Late Friday I got an email promising the proposal over the weekend. The weekend came and went, no proposal arrived. (Points 5 &6!) Monday came and went, Tuesday came and went, no proposal. Voila! On Wednesday a proposal came with a suggestion that to move ahead we NOW schedule the call with her team.
Let me tell you, she'd already lost me. Remember that know, like, and trust factor? I didn't trust her word for beans by now. If it takes 10 days to get a 4 page proposal out of a solopreneur what the heck is it going to take to get a website out of her? I would not have agreed to work with her if the work had been free, truly. But, I opened the proposal and to my irritation, frustration, and total astonishment here's what I saw:
- A $4900 price tag for a 4 page website.
- A statement that the site would be built in Joomla.
There was more, but I can stop right there. The price tag is, in my experience and opinion, ridiculously high. I have 7 sites and not a one of them cost anything NEAR that money. Secondly, the proposal was for something I didn't ask for and didn't want. Never did we discuss Joomla in our phone call.
This is exactly, exactly, exactly how NOT TO SELL. It is a classic case of “let me, the seller, tell you WHAT YOU NEED and HOW IT WILL BE DELIVERED no matter what you say you want or need, because I KNOW BETTER THAN YOU WHAT YOU NEED.” ARGHGHGH. Excuse me while I tear my hair out by the roots! I see people lose sales all the time using this “I know better than you know what you need” tactic. It won't work! There are ways to educate a prospect and gently suggest considering something else, but to write it up with no prior discussion is horrible, terrible sales technique. It also tells me that SHE didn't have the expertise to suggest this without talking to her technical help – a bad sign.
This woman could be the most capable, talented person on the planet to do this job, but as I have said a zillion times before, that does NOT matter. What matters is her marketing skills, which to be perfectly frank stink worse than a dead skunk in high heat.
I was already totally un-sold, but now I was both un-sold and hacked off. I'd just had 10 days of my time wasted on this project and been treated as if my wants mattered not one whit. So I wrote a short, polite, two-sentence email that said, “Thank you for the proposal, but it was not delivered to me in a timely manner, nor is it a proposal that matches what we discussed in our call. I don't want to pursue this further. I appreciate your time in speaking with me.”
Will you even believe that I actually got an e-mail back (this time in less than an hour, not 10 days) that basically said “we know better than you what you need, you will never get what you want using WordPress, my develop is a genius, and I stand behind what he said.” Defensive posturing NEVER works in sales. Nor does telling the prospect that she doesn't know what she is talking about. Even if this is true, the tactic won't work!
Take a note – don't attempt to sell this way. Marketing is about relationship building – and this woman missed her cues about 5 different times. Marketing is about being timely – and she was not. Marketing is about gentle leading – she did not. Marketing is about asking for a budget, she did not. Marketing is about not hacking off your prospect – she did. And when you are told there will be no deal, marketing is about taking the hit and moving on, not answering back defensively.
Ugh, what an icky feel. Makes me sad, though. I like to see solopreneurs succeed, but I doubt this one will.
(c) Sue Painter