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May 07, 2016

I Will Never Post-It Note

Those of us in Sales and Business Development are always looking to close the next deal. Sometimes, walking away is really the better choice.

Recently, Jason Swenk facilitated a discussion of mistakes we all admit to making through his Digital Agency Owner Insiders Facebook group, a collection of nearly a thousand agency owners from around the world.

Out of this thread came a long list of things we as agency owners do to get business that is not good for us, and ultimately hurt our clients. We do it with the best intentions; often doing what our prospects and clients asks for. Unfortunately, for everyone, these choices can jeopardize the success of the project, and too often lead to outright failure.

From this gripe session came this entertaining video (I'm at 0:18):


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I Will Never Do This in My Digital Agency Again...

I Will Never Do This in My Digital Agency Again...

Posted by Jason Swenk on April 28, 2016


Over my nearly twenty years in the business, I have paid some expensive lessons, and have for years now followed some of the pledges, including:

  • I will never do spec work that is not paid for.
  • I will never take on a new client without a signed proposal and a deposit.
  • I will never take on a new client that has an unrealistic budget
  • I will never take a new client that we don’t put through a pre-determined process.
  • I will never take on anyone that hasn’t already built a business.

Some agencies are just in it for the money. But most of us, including everyone at DesignHammer, want to do quality work that will overcome obstacles hindering our client’s success.

While many of these pledges seem self-serving, agency owners typically have far more experience managing website projects than their clients. I have been involved in hundreds of projects over the last twenty years, and believe I have a pretty good idea of what it takes for both my agency, and my clients, to run successful projects.

Also consider that the qualification process goes both ways. While you are looking to qualify and select an agency to take on your project, the best agencies are deciding if they want you as a client. You may drive a hard bargain and get the best price for your specified services, but maybe not hire the best, or even a competent agency.

We probably turn down around half the requests we receive to bid on projects. Often, this is because the prospect doesn’t have adequate budget, or is seeking services outside our select services, but there are other reasons including:

  • Inability to answer questions: We ask a lot of questions both to qualify, as well as estimate projects. It’s a red flag if a prospect can’t get us answers to our questions. It indicates the organization is either disorganized, or doesn’t have the buy in of decision makers and/or stakeholders.
  • Unrealistic schedule: Often prospects don’t allow adequate time to properly conduct the projects they propose. While we might be able to make things work, this is often a red flag of inability to manage time and resources.
  • Difference in Vision: DesignHammer seeks clients that seek to collaborate with an agency that offers a wealth of experience and skills. If you are looking for an order taker, there are probably better agencies for you.

We know the agency vetting and selection process doesn’t always go well. Many clients we sign have recently fired their agency, either after completing a less than successful project, or even before a project is completed. Often, the agency in question failed to live up to one of the video’s pledges.

Are you ready for a better website design experience? Let us know how we can help you.

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