Why Doing Your Homework Leads to More Sales
I recently received a prospecting e-mail from a Tucson photographer I’ve never heard of. His message noted that I’m included in the website developers directory in this city’s Book of Lists.
If you’re not familiar with these books, they’re published by the weekly business journals in many American cities. They list the top 20 firms in various fields, but truth be told, I wasn’t nominated for such an honor. I filled out the business journal’s information form, and, lo and behold, my studio appeared in the Book of Lists a few months later.
Enough about the Book of Lists. Back to that photographer’s e-mail. He referenced his website and concluded with an invitation to contact him regarding my photography needs.
If nothing else, this message showed me that this photographer hadn’t done his homework. A quick check of my website, which is included in the Book of Lists directory, would reveal that I’m also a photographer. So, it would be unlikely that I’d be in need of this man’s services.
Unless, of course, that he offers photographic services that I don’t. But I’ve been involved in the Tucson business communications scene since the late 1980s. I know plenty of photographers, as I used to be in charge of finding them to do work for a local publication. I’ve also been involved with a couple of photographic organizations that have Tucson chapters. In addition, I’ve done a fair amount of pro bono photography for local non-profits, and that has brought me into contact with other shooters.
Had this man taken a look at my website, he might have been able to find the information presented in the previous paragraph. But, as mentioned before, it was obvious that he hadn’t done his homework.
Here’s another area where doing your homework can pay off: When you’re prospecting for design work. I do a lot of work for universities, and, let’s put it politely, there are quite a few dot-edu websites that could look a lot better. So, I like to use what I call the Yucky Test. It’s easy to perform, and you don’t need to be prospecting in academia. Here’s what to do:
Find the website of the entity you’d like to do business with. Does it look attractive to you? (Yes, this is a bit like finding a date, but bear with me for a moment.) If the site looks attractive, then the entity probably won’t need your services any time soon.
On the other hand, you want to find ugly websites. In fact, the uglier the better! (Here’s where the “finding a date” analogy breaks down.) In the redesign world, ugly websites spell o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y.
Now, when you contact the people who are unfortunate enough to have an ugly website, don’t tell them that their site is the worst looking one you’ve ever seen. (Remember Flip Wilson’s “Ugly Baby” monologue?) Be diplomatic – you’re trying to make a sale here.
Instead, show your contact a very attractive website that you recently did. Better yet, show several. If the contact’s budget is in line with what you charge, you’re well on the way to making a sale.