Becoming a Great Client will help you get a Great Business Website

Aug 22, 2012 Comments Off by

How do you find the right ‘fit’ when choosing a web development partner? Here are 17 pointers to getting a great business website.

It starts by finding the right partner and being a Great Client for them. Becoming a good or preferably Great Client for your web firm will help you get the best results without having to spend a lot of money.

1. Show It’s Important: Demonstrate that you treat the new web project as important. You need to make sure a senior person in your business will be looking after the project.

2. Show You Are Growing: Demonstrate that your business is growing. This will mean you will be discovering new needs and uses for the web. You web partner will get more involved if there is a high probability of ongoing roll-out of your planned web development work. It’s a bad sign for your web partner if your plans are shrinking even before the start of your project.

3. Be Compatible: Make sure that you and the Web Dev firm have compatible cultures. Systems and organisation skills are important but typically this probably means showing you are flexible in thinking and not overly bureaucratic.

4. Ask & Listen for Smarter Advice: Be open to learning new things and ask for advice. It’s great to show you already have some website experience & knowledge, but even the full-time professionals don’t know everything. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Try to understand the advice.

Pick their brains and learn from them. Let them know you want smarter systems, smarter strategies and great business results. Let them know you understand your business must stay flexible and agile and that you don’t want to get locked into anything, especially old technology. Technology changes and how a web dev firm built something for a client last year may not be how they would recommend doing it this year.

They should be learning and improving along the way. You can use their past lessons to your advantage. Ask them what smart things you can do – and what smart things they will do – to make sure your new website is a huge success for you and for them.

5. Make Decisions: Demonstrate that you can make timely decisions. During the website planning and implementation process, there will be different decisions to make along the way. You may need to make some decisions quickly, especially if you want to work within your agreed timeframes. Don’t procrastinate over petty decisions. If you do need decisions to be agreed by others, then explain this to your web firm up-front and help them understand the time frames you may have to work with to get decisions made. Delays in decisions can affect project deadlines and can get frustrating.

6. Be Long-Term: Be an attractive client for a long-term relationship. Show that you and your senior team are going to be good to work with over the next few years. Some web firms will choose to only work with one type of business from any particular industry sector to avoid conflicts of interest. If your web firm is helping you with strategy and pro-actively assisting you to roll out your digital roadmap, you really will benefit from a strong long-term ongoing partnership. You don’t want the web development firm starting to think it would be good to let you go as a client when your current web project is finished.

7. Have Long-Term Staff Involved: Try to make sure that whoever is allocated from within your business to manage the project will be with your business for the long term. It is usually a false economy to hire a website project manager on a short-term contract just for the development project.

8. Play Win-Win: Of course you want to get a good deal from the web firm, but you also know that mutual gain is critical in a good business transaction and ongoing relationship. Demonstrate flexibility. If changes need to be made that change the project or cost more money, then discuss what can be a ‘fair approach’ and accept a fair price. Show you believe in Win-Win outcomes. The benefits of showing you are fair to deal with rather than tough to deal with are usually returned to you many times over.

9. Show Harmony: Avoid or fix internal clashes within your business. Make sure all your departments are agreed on the need for this project and your ongoing digital roadmap. Ideally, your CEO will be involved to ensure harmony between departments and make sure the various departments are well balanced in decision-making importance in your organization structure.

It’s never good if a single department in your business (e.g. IT or marketing) wants to maintain total control over the web project or roadmap and pushes out other departments. The situations are made worse when the CEO is not involved and appears to do nothing actively to increase harmony in a fractured or divided organization.

10. Show Financial Security: Show your partners that you have a good track record in business and that your business has financial security with enough money to get what you want and need.

11. Encourage Champions: Encourage internal Web Champions within your organization. It’s always great to work with a client business in which there are several or many “Champions” for the new project, and the Champions sincerely want the project to succeed. It’s a bad sign if there are no real champions for the project within the client’s organization or if the client’s CEO thinks the web or digital world is a waste of time and/or money.

12. Agree on Fair Pricing: Show that you understand how pricing works. Demonstrate that you understand the principle of needing to get what you pay for and that you don’t just want the cheapest price. Your relationship will become a lot stronger if you trust the web firm and can understand and accept their pricing as being fair and reasonable. Most pricing is negotiable. It’s okay to haggle a bit but important to know when to stop. There is usually a lot of work that goes into a good website and it’s not fair to push for a low price and then want to include more work for no extra money. Short-cuts can often be made to reduce pricing, but you want to know what is going to be sacrificed if big price reductions are made or offered.

13. Agree on The Project: Both parties must agree on the Engagement process. You and the web firm need to agree on what is required in the project. It’s worth taking the time to document your requirements, and it’s also important to read, understand and intelligently clarify any documentation you get from the web firm. Then both you and the web firm need to provide written sign-off. Don’t allow everything to be ‘verbal’ and make sure documentation is signed when you are asked to do so.

14. Share Processes: If you’re going to work together, then it’s worth making sure both parties understand each other’s processes about meetings, approvals, payment schedules and other processes you may share.

15. Pay on time: Make payments when they are due. Make sure the payment milestones are very clear and agreed up front. From the web development firm’s perspective, nothing destroys a relationship faster than getting mucked about for payment. Web design and development work is labor intensive work. Clients paying a deposit and then progress payments is normal and often necessary. Demonstrate that you have a good payment history with other suppliers. If you can’t afford a particular system or option, don’t agree to buy it. If your financial circumstances change during the time of the project, then tell your web firm so they can be prepared.

Good clients pay bills when they are due and are happy to pay in advance when required. Don’t find petty problems when work is done and use these as reasons to delay paying accounts. If there are problems with an invoice, let the web firm know about the problems when the invoice is received, not when it is due for payment or already late.

16. Become a Good or Great Reference Site: Right from the start, tell your web firm that you are prepared to be a reference site for their firm. This means offering to provide references for the web firm. They will usually go out of their way to make sure you are a happy customer with a great website. Then you can provide a good verbal or written reference when asked in the future. You may even like to offer to provide them with a video testimonial. This one point alone can help you be thought of as a great client and help get you a great business website.

17. Share Your Prestige: If you’re a prestige business, then be prepared to share your prestige with the web firm. Firms gain market credibility by having high profile prestigious clients in their portfolio, especially when these clients provide good projects and allow the firm to be publicly associated with the clients’ well-known and trusted brand names.

If you’ve got a good business reputation, then understand that firms working with you will find your reputation good for them. That said, despite your money and reputation not every web development firm you talk to will consider it a privilege to do your work.

You need to find the right firm to become your web partner. That’s usually a web firm where you are neither their biggest client nor their smallest. Don’t under estimate the power and value a great relationship with your chosen web development firm can bring you.

You don’t want to just be a customer. Try to be a valuable client right from the start. It will help fast-track you to great results sooner with less stress.

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