The Game Plan for Selling Web Design to Your Clients

By Alethea Gerardot on May 4, 2020

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If you are a web developer, then you are already bringing in clients for shiny new websites. But many professionals don’t like to sell themselves, and it can be difficult to upsell the skillsets you already have. Freelancers must understand that each skill and piece of effort is a separate service. As you create the website, you are acting as a website developer. If you happened to have additional skills (like web design), then selling them as a secondary service is a great way to make additional revenue.

But it doesn’t have to sound like a pitch.

Most of the time, getting paid fairly for your work involves explanations that help your clients understand the value. So, the starting place for upselling your web creation process is in the difference between what they get and what they could get.

How to Sell Web Design: It’s Not the Same as Development

There is a fundamental difference between design and development when it comes to creating websites:

Design builds an emotional response through subjective appeal.

Development builds a functional response through objective logic.

Of course, development is an art, and design has to follow certain rules, but the purpose and function of the two skillsets are starkly different. Many teams have two professionals (or more) that deal with these aspects during website creation.

There is a very objective right and wrong when it comes to website development and either it will work properly or it won’t. But design is tailor-fit to the preferences of the brand and the nature of the target audience. Design can be done in a million different ways, and it gives the visitor an instant impression that informs their opinion of the brand.

The problem is many companies want an all-in-one professional for less. If you are doing the work of design and the work of development, then you have to explain your prices for doing both tasks.

Just because you can do design doesn’t mean it comes included with web development.

The design aspect of creating your website is going to take sketches and mockups that deal with everything from color blocking to the look of buttons. You can pick fonts and choose layouts. A lot of money gets left on the table when the client is allowed to approach this as one task and not two. Small firms and freelancers will charge for the initial design that the client owns once completed, and then charge again for the process of web development to make it fully functional. Additional upsell services might include monthly fees for updating site information, expansion packages, marketing services and more.

To set the stage that positions you as more than a one-trick pony, you need to clearly define your value in offering both design and development services.

Come Prepared to Serve Your Clients

Today’s clients are informed and involved in their businesses, and many will come with ideas and questions. You need to be able to take criticism and roll with the changes your clients request, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t offer professional input.

Sales pitches used to look like reps asking a lot of questions and then suggesting products. But in today’s world of information, clients expect professionals to already know things about their company, competition, and clients. The initial meetings are opportunities to build trust by showing what trends you are seeing and offering insights as a professional. This could include:

  • Issues you notice with their current design (based on their target customer base)
  • Trends you see that give their competitors an advantage
  • Industry holes that their company might be able to fill
  • Language and appearance common within the industry (this is important to know so you can decide where and when you want to differ from the crowd)
  • Changes to appearance or organization that could improve their UX
  • Ways to streamline visitor processes (removing extra hoops and unnecessary bottlenecks)

Break down how web design will achieve their desire for looking better than the competitor, closing sales faster, opening new doors for sales, attracting traffic, and valuing the brand. Your pitch should focus on what your design can accomplish, keeping an open ear to how the client responds to your vision.

Listen More Than You Talk

Being prepared and having a vision doesn’t mean you don’t listen. In fact, clients value being heard. Silence is okay, but being unprepared is not. The client is going to see that difference. Don’t talk to fill space or out of nervousness, talk when you can add value and insight. But always be prepared to listen.

  • When a client raises an objection or tells you a dream for their brand, take special note
  • Use the same language as the client (common phrases and words)
  • Remember any concerns or objections and always address them in the next phase of your roughs or design—never hold on to your preference over the client’s
  • Listen carefully for the fears, challenges and insights they might share—you will glean things about their brand and industry you won’t be able to research online
  • Ask questions that aren’t easily answered with a little research—pitches are a lot like a job interview in that sense

Don’t Get Stuck on the Details

When you are trying to sell your services, do not get caught up on details. Don’t start with the sketches and direction before solidifying your relationship with the client and understanding of their goals. Once you feel confident that you understand their desires for the brand and obstacles they are facing, the next phase will include mood boards or design direction. But getting caught up on the font styles or specific buttons during the initial sales pitch is going to get you lost in the details and unable to get the big picture.

  • Are there budget constraints or a strict deadline?
  • Who is making decisions (stakeholders)?
  • What requirements or expectations exist?
  • How should site changes impact business?
  • What is the long-term vision for this site?

Set the Stage for the Web Design Process

Once you feel the meeting has given you the information you need and an opportunity to connect with the client, it is time to close strong. Talk about your excitement and reiterate the vision. Offer your recommendations (based on the conversation) and talk about pricing options (or clarify when you will provide packages). If you are talking about money in the meeting, stop, and allow silence. Feel confident in your numbers. If you need time to consider rates and send an estimate for an unusual job, clarify when they can expect to receive it.

  • Clarify the steps you take to create the design and get approval before starting the development stage
  • Go over what revisions are included and how adjustments can be made along the way
  • Discuss what would happen if they want something beyond the scope of their package
  • Send the client an agreement that reviews everything discussed in the meeting, setting clear expectations in writing. This is not a contract, but a document that helps show you understand the goals and requirements.

Close out strong with offers for add-on services. Don’t make this part of the initial package or overwhelm the client. You don’t have to possess these skills yourself—you can choose professionals or small agencies that you can partner with for a small upcharge for managing.

  • Social media profile assessment and edit
  • Website management and hosting
  • SEO development
  • Content writing and company blogging
  • Social media management
  • Email marketing
  • Graphic design for marketing and ads
  • Branded photography
  • A/B Testing and Analytics

With any number of available add-ons, clients can see that you are a valuable resource. Offering these value-added services at a fair price will increase your sales for each client. But make sure you always keep the client’s best needs in mind and don’t try to sell them services they don’t need. As you build a relationship with the client, try to help them find ways to cut back on unneeded services just as much as you encourage adding on helpful ones.