There’s one common area of web design that all web designers seem to dread…sales.

I understand.

When I got started, this was my least favorite aspect of running a web design business as well. But over time, I learned a ton of strategies that not only helped me enjoy the sales process more but actually helped me convert many more leads to actual paying clients!

In this episode, I’ll share my top 9 secret strategies on how to sell your web design services without coming across like a sweaty used car salesman. All of these strategies, if implemented, will actually help you enjoy instead of dread sales!

In this episode:

01:56 – Enjoying web site sales
02:03 – 1) Listen first
04:16 – 2) Ask about user experience
06:18 – 3) Research competitors
08:32 – 4) Share your ideas
10:48 – 5) End goal plans
12:43 – 6) Talk conversion simply
14:36 – 7) Brag a little
15:58 – 8) Educate more than sell
19:49 – 9) Give them free guides

You can also view the full transcription of this episode below.


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Episode Transcription

Josh 0:16
Hey, everybody, welcome into the podcast. This is Episode 91. And in this one, we’re going to talk about sales. But there’s a big but right there. We’re gonna talk about sales in a different way. Because a lot of whether it’s a podcast episode or ebook or training or guide, or course, when you hear about sales, they give you a lot of tactics and you’ll often get a lot of methods and strategies that still make you feel uneasy and make it feel daunting to do sales. But in this one, I’m going to give you some kind of sideways of selling websites in particular without being salesy. I’m going to give you nine strategies. To help you with this. These are all things that I’ve done myself, and every single one of these I’ve employed with my sales. And that’s from a decade of experience with selling hundreds of websites to all types of different clients, and all types of different personalities, mind you, and I learned not to dread sales, because I did in the beginning, just like the majority of you, I’m sure most everybody listening to this probably just hates selling. It’s like the worst aspect of web design. And a lot of us love building sites, being creative seeing something, you’ll see a website being done working with clients, a lot of that’s great, but I guarantee the thing that you probably hate most in the business is selling because it feels icky, it’s it’s very tricky, it can be very tough, there’s a lot of complexities, but the nine methods I give you here are going to help you sell without, again, being that used car salesman type of personality. So I’m really excited to share these with you to help you maybe not love selling but at least enjoy it more because it is super, super important. And we’re gonna get right into it. I don’t have any announcements or anything featured here, we’re gonna dive right into this one.

1) LISTEN to your client/lead

Josh 2:03
Number one here, we’re gonna start out with one of the most important lessons to selling without being salesy. And that is to listen first, and then provide your solution. So a lot of people, particularly I think, when it comes to being a new business owner, you’re so gung ho about what you do, and even how you can help, which is very noble that, you know, it’s like, it’s very understandable that you want to talk about your solutions. But a lot of times when you’re in a meeting with a client, and I should say, I meant to say this on the outset, this will apply to no matter what type of sales situation you’re in, whether it’s in person, whether it’s in a group, whether it’s one on one over Skype, or Zoom, whether it’s a strategy, call, whatever. These are just general sales tips that I’ve learned, that will help you in every situation. But what I found is that a lot of particularly people new that are new to selling, we’ll dive right into what they do. And the results, which there’s a time and place for that. But the trick is, and what I found most beneficial is to listen first. So when you are talking with a lead, and with a prospective client, you should not be saying much at all. What should you be doing, you should be asking questions, and you should be listening, you should be listening to their challenges, listen to what they like and what they don’t like maybe about their current website, listen to everything first. And then they’ll transition into providing solutions for your services. And to work with them. The worst thing you can do is right out of the gate meet with somebody is like, hey, Jim, nice to meet you. So here’s what we do. We do website design, we do maintenance, we do SEO, we can do all this, we can do all this, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. They don’t want to hear that yet. They want to hear how can this guy or this gal, help me grow my business or help me build this new website that’s going to convert more people. And it all starts with listening. And I guarantee you, if you listen, way more than you talk right in the beginning, you will immediately separate yourself from other web design agencies or web designers that your clients are talking with. And side note, a lot of businesses and a lot of clients are going to be talking with multiple people and the proposal stage, they want to get a lot of different estimates. So you need to separate yourself from everybody else. And if you just listen first, and then provide solutions, that will be key. So that’s number one.

2) Ask questions 

Josh 4:16
Number two, I talked about asking questions. This is kind of a follow up to that. Not only do you want to ask questions about the website, what they like what they don’t like, but ask thought provoking questions about the actual website users. This is the key, this is the biggie because a lot of designers might ask and I did this early on, I just asked about what they liked about the design. You know what problems they have with the current web design agency or web designers, but I neglected in the beginning asking about, you know, what do you want people to do on the website? What type of people do you have coming on? Do we need to create different journeys for people for different types of customers? What does that look like? If you ask thought provoking questions that make the lead of the client think about Oh, Hmm, I didn’t think about that maybe we do have like two or three different types of customers. So maybe it is worthwhile not just having one landing page, maybe we need to have like three different pages to guide them to different call to actions. Those are the kinds of things that’s going to separate you. And that’s what’s really going to pique the interest of your lead, because they’re going to know that you’re not interested in just getting a quick payday. And you’re not even just interested in that plus building a nice website, you’re actually interested and invested in working with them and helping them grow their business. And again, listening first asking really good thought provoking questions. There’s a number of different types of questions. And it all depends on the type of client you’re working with, and the situation. But my go to, is to ask about the users of the website, really get your mind intentional about conversions and ask them about what types of customers they have. Again, if there needs to be any sort of funnels or a different journey that certain people be into what their kind of call to actions are, really ask about some of those conversion based things when it comes to websites. And that will really help separate you and it’s a great way to unintentionally sell. And here’s the beauty of all this, have you sold anything yet? No, all you’ve done is just listened and asked a really good question. And those are two forms of sales.

3) Competitor research

Josh 6:18
Number three, do a little bit of competitor research. Now, this is you don’t do this for every lead that’s going to come in ideally, you’ll have some funneling and weed out kind of filters in place. And we’ll be talking about that on the podcast coming up. But for really good leads for really good clients that you’re just like, Man, this is a great company, I would love to land this one. Another area where you can really stand out is doing a little bit of competitor research, I did this there was an AI surgical center. That was one of my best clients. And when I met with them, I also I just googled, I just googled eye surgery, Columbus, Ohio, and I pulled up some of their competitors. And we looked at things that were I thought were pretty cool on some of the sites and then things that were just very dated or didn’t look well, that I would advise against. And just by doing a little bit of competitor research, it made me look awesome, because I came in prepared. That was one where I went to the location, I met with a couple people there. And it really like I could tell at first and that meeting in particular. I remember, it was a little nerve wracking because it was like a legit location to downtown Columbus and, uh, went up there. And then they had a, you know, beautiful office, and they took me back to their corner, you know, meeting room that was in a high rise. So it was like, you know, pretty legit. But once I started asking questions, and then show them that I did a little research on some other companies, their tone changed, it went from me, being a salesman, to me being on their side, like really actively wanting to help them. So make sure you do the same, do just a little bit of keyword, not keyword research, but competitor research in around their industry just to see what’s working. So you know what the landscape looks like. And a lot of times, clients have no idea. They haven’t done this themselves. So they might not know how many businesses are their direct competitors. And if you tell them, Listen, this is this is surgical place is here, this is where they are, they’re on the first page, we’re on the 10th page of Google, whatever, these are some things we might want to consider, it’ll really go a long way again, because they know you’re on their side. So do some competitor research for the good leaves, you don’t want to do that every time because it can be time consuming. But you can do some basic research and really, really look awesome.

4) Share your ideas

Josh 8:32
Number four. Now, after we’ve listened after we’ve asked some really good questions, and we’ve shown them that we’ve done our research, now is the time to start coming in with your sales approach. But again, it’s not going to be by my website service now. And for 999, you get this, it is a much more organic way to go about it. And number four here is to share your ideas. So before you even Pitch Anything, just share openly some ideas. And if you are somebody who is afraid to give information for free, I’m just going to have to ask you to really challenge your mindset on that. Because I can tell you as somebody who has given pretty much everything I’ve learned away for free aside from my courses and some of my premium stuff, I’ve given 90, 95% of all my content is free. And it’s been very worthwhile. And with clients, the same approach is what you should have didn’t mean to have a Yoda approach you should have, you should definitely have that same approach. When it comes to your clients. Don’t be afraid to give too much away share as many ideas as you can and that you have. Now these can be planned out beforehand, or they can be off the cuff like for I’m going to stick with that meeting with the I surgical center when I met with them. But I remember they pulled up we looked up there like direct competition, which was their highest competitor. And they had some stuff on their website that was pretty cool. And I share like yeah, we could absolutely do something like this. Here’s what I would do differently. And this is the kind of look I would go for I would also add a call to action here where they have nothing. They’re sharing ideas like that really kind of set me apart in those meetings, and it will for you too. And again, they can be planned, or they can just be off the cuff when you’re reviewing a website or talking with your clients. But the moral of the story, share your ideas, anything that comes into your head that you’ve learned, or you’ve, you know, researched about, or you’ve seen work on other websites, share those, and they will really help your clients again, not only know that you’re on their side, but it’ll get them fired up, they’ll be like, Oh, I like that idea. That’s what you really want to do in sales, you don’t want to just sell something you want to get your client inspired and pumped up. And one of the best ways to do that is to share your ideas and get them excited about what you could do for them. So number four, share your ideas.

5) Share the end goal

Josh 10:48
Number five, share the end goal. So after you’ve done all this, and you’ve shared some ideas, the real question is what should happen at the end of the project. So there’s a number of different ways to go about this, you could share the end goal of a new website, you could say. So here’s a lot of challenges. The goal here is to you know, have a new website that represents you well, and is actually going to bring way more people in to your funnel instead of you know, booting them away. And I often told clients, your website’s doing one of two things. It’s either bringing people in or pushing people away. And you have to ask yourself, What is your website doing, it’s probably the ladder unless it was done professionally and done with a good conversion base design in mind. So share that end goal, share what clients are going to experience if they work with you. Now, you could talk about the experience with this, you could talk about about this from a number of different ways. But either way, take a client, give them a vision of what would happen if they started working with you. And what’s going to happen by the end, share that end goal, I have to do the same thing with my courses, by the way, with the way I market those and the way I build those landing pages out. The first thing I usually say is, by the end of this course you will boom experience this, you will learn how to do this, that’s the same approach I want you guys to have with clients share what it’s going to be like when they work with you. And once it’s done, what’s going to happen. Now, on that note, I would also recommend really, and these are kind of some things that you could do in and around this, this path here. So these these are all interchangeable, you don’t necessarily need to do these at this order per se, because you might be able to share the goal earlier, depending on a simple site versus a really complex site where you might want to end completely with the end goal. But either way…

6) Discuss end results

Josh 12:43
Number six here is to talk about conversion and results oriented stuff over just design and tech. And just remember you have to talk at your clients level. So if you’re meeting with an auto mechanic, they probably have no idea what WordPress is a guarantee, they don’t know what themes are, if you’re using Divi or Elementor. And they have no idea, they can’t talk about that they don’t know what HTML and CSS is. So make sure you don’t put a bunch of jargon in front of them, they’re not gonna understand it, talk about it like this, you might say, you know, with the current website, we noticed there’s no button for people to request a quote from you or to get an estimate. So that’s something we should have on there. That way people know once they go on the website, the biggest call to action is to get a request and an estimate or something like that, that’s something they can wrap their heads around. Whereas if you say, Yeah, I noticed your site loads really slow, because the images aren’t optimized, and you’re using an outdated WordPress theme, they’re gonna like I have no idea what you just said. And I’ll never forget when I started, I was a subcontractor briefly for a company in here in Columbus, a digital marketing agency. And they had me in on one of their sales call. So they I was just helping them build some websites, because they had an overflow of projects. And they invited me on to one of their sales calls and the designer at that time was talking with this client for like 20 minutes about flash, because they had this old outdated Flash Player. And I remember thinking like, this client has no idea what the heck he’s talking about. And even after the call, remember, the guy who invited me on was like, just as a reference point, we want to make sure we don’t, you know, bombard the clients with technical jargon, if they don’t know, you know, what you’re talking about. So speak at their level. And then again, talk about conversion based topics rather than tech or design stuff.

7) Show-off your case studies

Josh 14:36
Now, number seven, this is a this is another thing where again, you can end with this or you could put this in kind of segue in earlier in the conversation, but that is to share case studies, or any previous wins that you’ve had with previous clients. So ideally, this would be done by industry. Like if you’re working with a realtor, and you had just worked with a previous realtor, and you say, Well, here’s a recent site we did. That’s a great way They go, of course, because it’s like, oh, wow, they actually work with another realtor. However, that’s not always the case, if you haven’t worked with that industry. So a lot of times, you can still pull from different industries and the way of like design principles or conversion stuff, you can look and say, Well, here’s how we set up this journey for this realty site. And they got a lot more contact form submissions, they got a lot more calls once we set this up. So you can definitely do something like that. And I definitely want to encourage you share those wins, share those case studies, you don’t need to literally like send people a testimonial, or a case study video. But in the meeting, just pull up some other sites that you’ve done and just share some real world examples. Even if you don’t have research to back it up yet. You can still say like, yeah, look at this previous, you know, one of my recent clients, this was their old site, this is their new one. And they love it, it represents them. Well, they love people, they love sending people to their website now. So share those case studies, share those wins, that you’ve had no shame in that game. Sure.

8) Educate your leads

Josh 15:58
Now, Number eight, these are kind of in and around. Again, something that you can do. We’ll talk about this as far as when you can do this, because it would depend on the type of lead. But number eight, is to have a mindset of educating leads instead of selling to them. And this is the big thing I actually, this really kind of solidified more recently when I heard a quote from the guys from Basecamp. Because I love the guys from Basecamp books they Rework is an amazing book, if you haven’t checked that out. It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work, another great book. But I love what they said they said, We don’t try to out market our clients, we just try to educate them. I love that mindset, instead of blowing a bunch of money on marketing and coming across salesy. They just educate their user base and their customers. And that really separates them. And I gotta be honest, I still use Basecamp. I have since 2014. At this point, had they not put out those books and had they not had these other resources. I don’t know, I don’t know if I would have felt as connected with them to stay with their service, because there’s a bunch of other options for project management. But I just liked that I like their style. And I like their approach. And it’s really made me want to kind of stick with them. So I want you to have the same approach. And we’ll talk about an option here to wrap up here after this one. But just keep that mindset prevalent and be intentional about educating clients instead of selling to them. And you might ask well, that’s great, Josh, but I don’t quite know what exactly what you mean, or how to do that. So let me give you a practical example. Let’s say you’re talking with a client, and they have need for some SEO, like maybe let’s stick with the automotive automotive place. That’s kind of an easy one for local SEO. Let’s say they have no presence online, and they’ve got some competition and they want to get to the first page of Google. Well, they’ll ask you how to get to the first page of Google and you’ll have to tell them just like I’ve talked about in some recent SEO episodes, you need to tell them well, it all depends on the term. It depends on your competition. Automotive mechanic, Columbus, Ohio is completely different than a suburb outside of Columbus. So you want to target the the suburbs and the location based stuff often longtail keywords, but don’t tell them now, I’m just telling you that. But what you can say to them, is because normally a lot of salespeople will go well Don’t worry about SEO, we’ve got SEO plans, we’ve got all the SEO plans you need, we can do one time and ongoing and we’ll help you get better Google rankings. That’s a typical sales pitch. But a really good sales pitch without being salesy at all, is to say, Okay, well, I see that you’ve got a website with, you know, three pages right now. And I would say, for SEO, one of the best things you can do is to have a page for each service. So have a page for brake repair, have a page for, you know, wheel alignment, or whatever it is, and the automotive, we’re asking about their main services, ask about their customers, and then tell them if we set pages up for those services, we can really do a lot on those pages. And that’ll give you a big SEO boost. And one thing we can do is also create location based pages. So you can just tell them, you don’t have to say we can create, you can just say, one thing you can do on your website is to create location based pages. And that way, if somebody searches, you know, suburb break repair, because they don’t want to drive outside of that suburb, then there you go, that’s gonna, you’re gonna have a very, you’re gonna have a high likelihood of being really far up, potentially first on that Google search. So if you frame it like that, like you’re just telling them what to do and sharing your ideas and educating them and you do want to be careful with how you phrase that I would not say, you know, if you sign up with us, we can do this. I would just say what I would do for your guys’s website is this, come across like that, educate your leads, make them understand a little more and they’re going to be 10 times more likely to move forward with you.

9) Give-away a guide

Josh 19:49
And then finally, on that same note of education, this is generally something I would recommend doing to dish out before before you actually meet with somebody or you give them afterwards, and that is to create some sort of free guide or training for your leads. And again, this is something that could be a download on your website that people would download, which will lead in to the sales process. And that’s where this gets really fun because you’ll have what’s known as a hot lead, instead of a cold lead. So that would definitely be something I’d recommend doing. Create some freebies, create some guides on what you’ve learned, you don’t need to be an expert. And I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again, you can go through my podcast, pull out some of the episodes that I’ve done, where like, recently, I did an episode on 12 tips for conversions, there was an episode on SEO basic foundations you can do like you can go to those episodes, take the list of what I share with you and make that free guide. I’m cool with that you have my you have my blessing to do that. Make some free guides, share those with your clients. And it’ll for one make you look like a rock star, but it’s going to provoke them to ask better questions and it’s going to help you sell without being salesy. Now, that’s the method for doing it before you get to the media. But you can also do it after the meeting. So let’s say you have a basic guide to SEO. And it’s just a maybe a two or three page e-book or something like that, or a training video a 10 minute video on what small businesses can do for better as local SEO. Once you meet with that auto mechanic and you let them know what I would recommend doing is these pages and this kind of thing. After that you can say Well, look, I have I have a little free training on this just to help you know, no matter what happens, I want it I want you to help get better SEO ranking. So here are the steps and a little more detail. And you’re welcome to have this give them a free guide. Give them a training. And I promise guys, if you do that you will look like an absolute Rockstar and your conversions with sales are going to go through the roof. In the beauty about all this those nine tips is did anything feel sale like salesy because I don’t feel like it did at all.

Josh 21:58
Let’s recap those real quick. Number one, listen first, then provide your solutions. Number two, ask a thought provoking questions about website users. Number three, do some competitor research. Number four, share your ideas when you get them, get your clients pumped up. Number five, share the end goal share where somebody’s going to be after they work with you and what your what your goal is and what your mission is for working with them and doing their website. Number six talk on that note, talk about conversion based and results oriented stuff opposed to design and tech talk. Number seven, share case studies and previous wins. with clients you’ve worked with, and designs you’ve done. Number eight, educate your clients instead of selling to them particularly like on that practical example. And finally, create these free guides to give them. None of that feel salesy. Like you should be able to go to a sales meeting with this list of nine things and feel completely comfortable because you don’t need to sell. You don’t need to go in there and say, Well, listen, here’s what my competitors are doing. And here’s what I’m doing. Say, you don’t have to come across like that you can come across like a very helpful person who cares about people, and you want to help their business grow. And if that’s not you, then that’s a whole nother podcast topic because we got to work on your mindset first. But for 99% of you listening to this, that’s you, you want to help. And you want to help your clients grow and have amazing websites. And this is how to do it. So those are my tips, guys, those are the nine ways to sell without being salesy.

Josh 23:24
This is something I cover in a lot more detail on my web design business course. So for those of you who have been through that, this probably sounded pretty familiar. But if you I do want to say if you’re ready to really take your business to the next level, it’s early in 2021 right now, guys, now’s the time to do it. And I really honestly want to help you with that. So you can actually just go to Josh hall.co/business. And that will take you to my business course check it out. I would love to welcome you and it’s open right now and I would love to help you with taking your business to the next level. Because we talk a lot about this. I go into I have a whole module on sales in that and it’s it’s much more practical in there with real world examples and stuff like that. But hopefully this was beneficial either way. Hopefully this was beneficial for you to be able to sell without feeling salesy, and of course, if you’re ready to take the next level and to start selling and growing your business, I would love to welcome you into my course. So just go to Josh Hall.co/business if interested in that. But otherwise, take these nine points, apply them and let me know how it goes leave a comment on the podcast episode show notes for this page, you’ll find that at Josh Hall.co/091 leave me a comment. I want to hear how it helps out. And that’s it guys this may be my shortest podcast episode today. I’m not sure but I just wanted to get right to this one. Because there are better alternatives to being that sleazy sweaty salesman. I don’t want that to be you. I want you to at least somewhat enjoy selling so there you go guys. Enjoy. See on the next one.