How to Price, Pitch, and Sell Web Design Services
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Web design services are increasingly becoming commoditized.
Because of this, you may see that web development shops out there are offering to build websites cheaply, for $500.
But, you will never be able to compete on price.
Shops in countries with low cost-of-living and website templates are able to charge so little because of their little costs.
They are playing a volume game.
But, the old adage goes, “You get what you pay for,” and this tends to be the case with web design as well.
Newer design shops, feeling they have to compete on price, often underprice their services.
In my experience, though, you do not want a client who wants the cheapest service.
The client who wants to pay the least is going to be the most expensive client you ever had.
If you have had that experience, I’m curious to learn more. Share it in the comments section below.
Clients shopping on price do not appreciate the creativity and skill required for good-quality web design. They assume that a website is a website, and all web designers are just working off of cheap templates and adding in the client’s information.
And a low price suggests low quality.
Years ago, our web design agency was charging $1,000 for website designs. We publicly posted our pricing. And the clients that came in were clients that wanted to pay $1,000 for a website design. Some clients even tried to get us to offer discounts.
But, after we raised our prices to $2,000, and eventually $3,000, we ended up seeing that the quality of clients improved. They respected us more. Because of our higher prices, clients felt like we knew what we were doing. The higher price, in a way, demonstrated our worth. Clients at these higher price points treated us like we were worth $2,000 and $3,000.
I know it might seem crazy.
You might be thinking, “You raised your prices but provided the same service, and you got better clients who were willing to pay these higher rates?”
Over the years, our marketing improved.
After having done so many great-quality websites at $1,000 and $2,000, we had a portfolio built out.
We had testimonials.
We had the materials we needed to prove to potential clients that we were absolutely worth $3,000 or more.
And armed with these testimonials, reviews, and portfolio pieces, we were able to get higher-paying clients, some with projects that went well over $10,000.
So, how can you price, pitch, and sell your web design services?
Here are a few things to know.
Here is how you demonstrate why people should hire you, and why your services should cost what they do. There are a few things that can do to better market your services.
The portfolio will help you sell better.
We’ve already written extensively about how a portfolio helps you sell web design services.
The summary is this: Clients are willing to pay more for your services if they can see examples of your impressive work.
If you can show off a portfolio of sample website designs, it builds trust with your audience. If you can point to websites that you have built that are clearly worth $3,000, then potential clients will be comfortable that your services are worth $3,000 or more.
If you do not have many clients, if you are just starting out, you can still build a portfolio.
Do a few initial jobs for free or a discount so you can build your portfolio.
The first three websites we ever built were done for free so we could use them in our portfolio. Our clients had to agree to let us set the direction for the website since we were providing it to them at no charge. This is important to note, because with a lot of websites, designers have great visions, but clients may not see in alignment with that vision. If you are providing a free service in exchange for a portfolio piece, you should be creating something you are proud to show off.
Testimonials and Case Studies
Get testimonials and case studies.
These let people know that clients like working with you.
It may sound like a no-brainer, but it helps a lot.
It’s much more impactful having a testimonial or case study with a satisfied client explaining to other potential clients why they should work with you.
It is much more impactful than the alternative, which would be just you saying how great your web design service is. If you say “my agency is great,” clients will not believe you. Of course you think your web design agency is great. But other clients, they do not have the vested interest in your business that you do. It does not matter to them whether or not you get more business, so hearing what its like from other clients helps potential clients trust you. It also helps them to get an idea what it would be like working with you.
One way to be able to charge more for your services is finding your niche.
Doing website design for businesses is fine, but it may end up with you being a generalist.
Finding the right niche can help you be able to market your skills and experience working with a certain type of client.
For example, your business can find its niche building websites for restaurants, CPAs, or app companies. Having this specialization lets you create marketing and promotional materials geared towards that audience.
With our agency, we focused on law firms. This allowed us to create marketing materials demonstrating our competitive advantages in this space. And it let us charge more for our services because we had very specific skills and experience.
And, it helped us get in front of a large audience of potential clients looking for web design for law firms.
It may limit your audience, since you are turning away a lot of business from other clients that are not in your niche, but you can build a very successful web design business by focusing on a specific niche.
To learn more, check out our article on finding a niche for your web design business.
What should you charge?
There is no magic answer.
You should obviously charge more than it costs you to provide the services.
You should charge enough that you can make a profit on the project. It should cover your marketing expenses, and be worth your time.
Check out this article on what to charge for web design services.
This article is my best recommendation.
Productize your services. Set a scope for your project and charge for that specific scope.
Here are some more tips:
- Look at competitors and what they charge
- Charge based on the value of your services to your client, not based on your cost to provide the services
Value-based pricing is not something that everyone understands. Many agencies, in a “race to the bottom” try to charge enough so their costs are covered, but they could be charging a lot more because clients value their web designers’ services.
Also, when you are looking to increase prices that you charge, here is another great article on how to raise prices for your web design services.
If you are looking for a way to be able to more easily, quickly, and cost-effectively build custom websites for your clients, you should probably check out Offsprout.
So, your marketing is making people call your agency. What should you do when they start asking you about your services?
It’s time to pitch them during a sales consultation.
Your pitch should be done via the phone.
You may want to consider doing a screenshare / presentation that they can follow along, but I would not necessarily recommend it. For some reason, you might find that it is hard for potential clients to get into your screenshare app.
If your clients are tech savvy and can do it, great.
If not, stick with a phone call.
Over time, you will master your pitch.
But, instead of taking years to figure out what you should or should not say, we have some tips to help you make the strongest pitch possible for your web design services.
Here is my recommendation for a pitch outline:
- The Problem
- Active Listening
- Find a Solution
- Next Steps
Let’s go through each element.
Introduction and the Problem
First, ask about the client’s business and what they are looking for. Usually, they will then tell you a long story about what they are looking for and why.
“I need my first website” / “I hate my current web designer” etc.
Your potential client, when asked what they are looking for, will very likely open up to let you know why they are calling you.
Take notes on what the client says are their “pain points.”
Find out more on what is motivating them.
Repeat back to them what they are saying – “so it sounds like you are looking for X.”
This demonstrates to them that both: a) you are listening; and b) you understand what they want.
This is important because you need to make sure you understand what your client wants.
They won’t like it if you send them a proposal that is completely misaligned with that they are ultimately looking for.
When they are done, and it is time to start your pitch, wrap up this section by saying to them “So it looks like you are looking for X, we can help with that.”
Unless, of course, it is clear from the client’s talking that you cannot help them out. If that is the case, let them know that, as you understand it (repeating back their envisioned project) you cannot help them out.
Keep asking questions here, because knowing exactly what they want lets you create a specific proposal with pricing tailored to the scope of their project.
Discuss your services, specifically what you can do that addresses what the client is looking for.
By framing it as, “You told me you want X. We do X,” that impresses your client. Instead of pitching your services broadly, being specific shows you know what your clients want. An irrelevant sales pitch is a sure way to get you disqualified.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a sales pitch where the pitch was definitely nothing you wanted to buy? It’s frustrating.
Tailoring what the client says they are looking for to your solution shows them that there is an alignment between the client’s problem and your solution, and they should ideally want to hire you.
If you start your pitch with a straight-up sales pitch about your services, you might be way off.
By the end of this part, the client should be agreeing with you that you can provide the service they are looking for, and now they should be curious about price.
Ask if they have any questions. Answer them thoroughly and overcome any potential objections.
For after the call, they will need a proposal with pricing and deliverables that they can review, along with a contract for your services.
Let them know that you will send them a proposal after this call, and that you will want to follow up after they have reviewed the proposal.
While you have them on the phone, set up a calendar appointment for a follow-up call, letting them know that you will get them a proposal in the next two days, so you can follow up after that, and they have time to review.
They will appreciate this, that you are setting a follow-up, not leaving them to their own devices to get back in touch with you.
All proposals are different, but most have these elements in common.
- Intro / Brief
Let’s go into the proposal elements.
Intro / Brief
For this first section, it’s basically an assessment of what the client said they are looking for, and what you recommend as a solution.
The reason we like to include this is because it shows the client, “This is what you are looking for. Here is the solution.” Some clients come into a conversation thinking they want something, not knowing what they really need. But, this brief section lets you demonstrate your expertise and sell them on the fact that, after your conversation, it is clear that you have the right recommended solution.
Now, you can go a bit more in-depth into the services you are providing. Educate your audience a bit on what it is you do. What sets you apart? What do you do differently or better than competitors?
Also, in this section you can discuss things like timeline.
What is the process like?
What happens at each stage of design or marketing?
Who owes what, when?
Next is the deliverables. What is this client exactly paying for?
How many pages are they getting?
Is there client WordPress training involved?
How many design / revision rounds are there?
How many stock images do they get?
The deliverables section is where you line-item the tangibles that the client gets.
Sometimes this section can be merged into Pricing because you will want people to know exactly what they are getting for their price.
Most people reading proposals jump to this section. It’s what they care about most.
So, make sure your pricing section looks pretty.
Lay out all the elements and things that get included with your web design services.
The more you list out (that are real deliverables), the better it looks.
They will look at your pricing and think, “That’s a reasonable price. Look at all that I get for that price.” That’s the goal.
The Sales Process
After sending out the proposal, follow-up is the name of the game. If you do not follow-up, you will not get the client.
Every other day.
Every other day, follow up with the client by email or phone. Switch off between them until the client either signs with you or says they have hired someone else.
You can of course change it up if a client says to you, “I appreciate the follow-ups, but you can call me a week from now, or two weeks in the future because I will be away from the office.”
You may be concerned about following up, now wanting to bother the client.
But, they will appreciate the initiative.
I have heard clients tell me that they appreciated my follow-up because it showed that I was responsive, organized, and wanted their business.
Seriously, following up continuously is much more appreciated than you can imagine.
If for any reason they say they are considering someone else, you should still try to save the deal. Find out what it is they are looking for that they are not confident you can provide.
Overcome the objection. Eliminate any concerns they may have.
The deal is not lost until the client has signed with another service provider.
If the client commits to hiring you, you should absolutely send over an agreement to get started with your services.
Using an e-sign app like RightSignature, DocuSign, or EchoSign is the easiest way for potential clients to sign your agreement.
You can also integrate these apps with payment processing software so you can collect a down payment / retainer for your design project.
The goal here is to make it as seamless as possible for your client to sign up with you.
If there is any friction, making it harder for them to sign on, you may lose them.
If they have to print, sign, scan, and send back an agreement, it makes signing up difficult.
If they have to send you a check, it takes longer for you to get paid.
Your process should be:
- Follow up every other day to get a commitment
- Get a commitment
- Send them an e-sign / payment form
- Follow up every other day until you have documentation signed
The Tools You Need
Lastly, you will need some tools to be able to sell your web design services.
- Online payment
First, a CRM.
A CRM helps you manage your potential clients. It lets you know what stage your potential clients are in and what needs to be done next.
Having a CRM makes sure you follow up with your leads.
A CRM is the best friend of any salesperson.
There are a lot of different apps out there. For more information about CRM tools, I would recommend checking our article out on the best CRMs for web designers, agencies, and freelancers.
Next, you will need e-signature software.
This software helps you get a signed agreement without having to need the client print out your agreement, sign it, scan it, and email it. E-signing makes it so the client can let the client take care of everything in just a few clicks.
This reduces friction and helps you get your deals closed quicker.
There are a lot of great e-signature apps out there. Some of the best ones are:
Most of them do the same thing. Some can integrate with your CRM or other apps you use, which is handy.
Last, get a way to accept payments online.
You need to be able to accept credit cards. Taking credit cards gets you paid quicker than by check.
Clients expect they can pay via credit card.
Needing to pay by check slows things down further. And, a client may not hire you if they cannot onboard right away.
Plus, having a client set up with credit card payments gives you the ability to charge for recurring services, like hosting and support or marketing.
These tips will give you a leg up against competitors, helping you to have a better pitch, and retain more clients.
If you have any tips to share, or questions on how to create the best pitch, pricing, or sales process for web design, ask in the comments below and we’ll get to them ASAP.
Offsprout was founded by two former college freshman roommates. Drawing from their experience building their web design business, JurisPage, which was acquired in 2016, Offsprout is singularly focused on being the best white label website building tool for web design businesses.