The Web Designer Search and "Cues"
A recent case in point. I recently did some research to find designers to work on my web site, as one of my goals for this year was a refreshed site which combined my blog and main web page. I can been referred to a designer through a colleague. I liked their work and thought I would go about getting a price estimate. I even went through their web site quite carefully, and found specific sites they had designed that looked great. So, I filled out an online request for proposals form they had on their Contact Us page. I described what I was looking for in a fair amount of detail, submitted my request, and all was fine except for a strange message that said that I was now part of a "cue," and that requests were taken in order of the "cue," and that I might have to wait a while. Hmmm. I was not thrilled at this message, since the word "cue" immediately reminded me of a printer cue message, which only came up when there was a problem printing, and it stirred up negative associations. Also, even if something might take a while, a business should be aware that prompt responses, not lengthy ones, will maybe get them more clients, and faster?
This Does Not Compute
I did not hear back for about 2 days, at which point I sent a 2nd request to the contact name I had. I then heard back later that day. The sender, in this case, company founder, apologized that I needed to e-mail her again, but then reminded me once more of the "cue" system. Hmmm. Not so thrilled again. Even later on, I received another e-mail asking me to clarify what I was looking for, even though I thought I had been fairly specific. So, I clarified yet again, with bullet points and specific areas I would want them to work on.
You Don't Really Need Us
The next day, I heard back again from the owner, saying that in rereading my e-mails, it did not seem that their services were what I wanted, and that I did not, in fact, need a designer! Apparently, she was trying to talk me out of wanting her business. This struck me as strange, given that most consultants want business, particularly in a tough economy. So, I e-mailed back that I did in fact want a designer, echoing the reasons I had listed previously. I also requested that we speak on the phone to clarify things, and even offered to call them myself first.
I'm Not Calling Even Though You Want Me To
What happened next was truly shocking. I received one of the longest e-mails I have ever gotten, with a lot of fancy language about customer attention, customized services, and a whopping price estimate of close to $10,000! In a form letter, no less.
So what did I do next? Delete, delete, delete. And, I made note of everything this company owner had done wrong:
- Don't tell clients they are part of a "cue," it doesn't go over well. How about:"Your request is important to us, and we will get back to you within 2 business days..."
- Don't continue to send e-mails to potential clients when they have requested a phone conversation. As a consultant, I will always call someone if they request it, it is common courtesy and sets a good tone for the working relationship.
- Why talk someone out of needing you? Is that good marketing?
- Do not include template pricing in a form letter. The more expensive it is, the worse it looks, particularly if you have already demonstrated that you are not listening to the client to begin with. At the very least, provide customized pricing that describes the stages of work the client needs done.
- My mistake- I should have moved on to another consultant once I started seeing too many red flags, and particularly when I got the message that said "it seems like you are not looking for what we do." Next!