Featured Guest Blogger: Babette Burdick Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies
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Does your engineering firm use any of the following excuses to rationalize why your website looks the way it does?
- Our clients and prospects need to call us so we can discuss their project. Project outcomes depend on client specifications. We don’t know what clients need until we start to work with them.
- We don’t have services you can just order on the internet. We deal with complex solutions.
- Once our clients and prospects see all the projects we have completed, they will understand we can do whatever it is they want us to do.
Oh give me a break. These excuses are nothing more than elitism which is being used to compensate for the fact that YOUR ENGINEERING FIRM CANNOT DESCRIBE, IN SIMPLE AND SUCCINCT TERMS, THE VALUE THEY BRING TO THEIR CLIENTS’ TABLES.
Yep, you just read it.
Considering we live in a world of elongated sales cycles and risky funding, your business development folks can’t get to everyone individually. So just where do you think new business is going to come from? Try your company footprint on the Internet, which starts with your website.
Let’s examine each one of these rationales and translate just what they mean.
1. Our clients and prospects need to call us so we can discuss their project. Project outcomes depend on client specifications. We don’t know what they need until we start to work with them.
What if a client or prospect doesn’t want to call you to have a long, elegant conversation about a project they may not be interested in inviting you to bid on, anyway? Considering most individuals within corporations have about 1 hour of face time per week to give to business development folks (and you know how many people are competing for this time) your website serves as your first “conversation” with them. If your website offers little content to justify their even considering sending you an email, let alone calling you, why would they want to work with you? Your website’s not making it easy for them to do business with you. You are forcing an extremely busy prospective client to do things your way. Which means your firm isn’t interested in working with them – their way.
2. We don’t have services you can just order on the internet. We deal with complex solutions. No kidding. You can’t just “dial an engineer.” However, as that extremely busy client or prospect, I want simple (not dumbed-down, but easily understood) solutions based on expertise and capabilities. I want to work with an engineering firm that makes my corporate life and decision making process a little bit easier. After all, it’s all about the client. Not about the engineering firm. As a prospective client, your website has 2-5 seconds to pique my interest and grab my attention with what you can deliver. If I feel I am reading a philosophical treatise that is simply talking in circles, well, I’ll hit the “back” button and go elsewhere, thank you.
3. Once our clients and prospects see all the projects we have completed, they will understand we can do whatever it is they want us to do. OK. We’ve ALL seen websites like this one. A big flashy home page (and flash can be a real no-no in terms of search engine optimization), and then the “Project List” or “Portfolio” or “Clients” tab. You are not dealing with children, so does your website look like a story-book? Also you are assuming that prospective clients know what they are looking at… which they may not. Your internal folks may have uploaded photos from your most complex designs as a means of “wowing” prospective clients.
All prospective clients see is a bunch of complex, flashy solutions which may or may not have any relation to their needs. The more complex the solution, the less simple it appears to work with your company. Oh, also, if you are wondering why your client base is a bunch of demanding divas eating up profitability, go back to your website and see what types of project photos you have uploaded. You may be marketing to just whom you are getting as clients.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and create a website which is sensitive to their time constraints, decision making algorithm and their need to determine capabilities and not outcomes. You may just shorten your sales cycles and learn a lot more about your capabilities in the process.
Think about it.