For a web development professional or firm, one of the best ways to generate a solid stream of monthly revenue is by selling ongoing service and support contracts to clients. To successfully upsell this service, you need to make the offer at the right time.
Many service providers go for the website support upsell right away, asking clients to commit to and sign a support contract at the start of a project. But given the tight economy, most companies are looking to trim costs and few are eager to sign up for another monthly cost. Many smaller clients may think they can do it themselves.
To get through their resistance, you should start with a softer sell, educate them about the benefits, and ask for the sale at the right time. But how do you do that?
The Seed, Nurture, Harvest approach
Most clients aren’t ready to agree to a long-term monthly fee for ongoing services at the start of their relationship with you. They are not yet equipped or empowered to make that decision, and don’t yet fully understand how important professional website support and maintenance is.
At the start of the project, the client may be stressed about the budget for refurbishing or building a website, and focused on meeting project milestones. They may be nervous about their investment, concerned about writing website content and unsure about technical tasks they need to complete.
On the other hand, if you wait until the end of the project to speak with your client about website support services, they may not be keen to spend even more money.
Their expectations are that the project is over and that they would like to get back to business as usual.
This is why selling monthly website support packages to small businesses needs a totally different approach.
- Communication about monthly website support packages must begin in the very first conversation with your client, but done so without pressure.
- Throughout the project, the idea and benefits of ongoing website support need to be reinforced.
- At the end of the project, you close the sale.
Beginning with the very first sales call, hints of an ongoing website support option and seeds of interest are planted. In conversations and the client agreement, you are mentioning the need for ongoing website support, what it means, why it is needed, and that you can help.
You’re not asking for the sale or demanding a commitment but providing information and education that gets them thinking about how they will manage this in the future.
As the client moves through their project with you, they get to know you, the relationship with the client gets stronger, and their understanding increases of what responsibilities come with being a website owner.
Throughout the project, you remind the client of the need for ongoing website support and how it benefits them. Nurture the idea in a positive, friendly way.
Once the client has overcome the primary challenges of completing their website including the website content, technical tasks and homework, it’s time to deliver the official upsell for ongoing website support and harvest the seeds you’ve been nurturing.
Throughout every step of the project, you should position support as being in the best
interests of the client. The monthly website support upsell needs to be structured in a way that allows you to serve the client well without draining your time or eroding your hourly rates. It also makes the client feel protected and cared for.
How to pitch website support to clients
Here are the perfect places to naturally incorporate monthly website support package upsells in a website project:
On the sales call
Ask the prospect about their plan to care for the website after the launch. If there is no plan in place, speak with them about the importance of ongoing support and the website support packages you have available.
As part of your client agreement
Seed the benefits of monthly website support in the FAQ, Availability and Legal Details sections of the agreement.
During the design phase
The design phase offers the most interaction and collaboration with the client. During this time, nurture the idea that a website launch isn’t the end, but rather the beginning on the long-term care of the website. If you discuss plugins, WordPress or other third-party technical solutions, remind the client that like all software, there will be security updates, feature updates and maintenance that need to happen on a regular basis.
During website development
During development, continue to nurture the idea that professional website support is needed after the website is launched. Share information about website security and the responsibilities of being a website owner. Reinforce how serious having a website support plan in place is, and let the client know that you can take care of it so they don’t have to lift a finger.
At website launch
When preparing for website launch, it’s time to harvest the monthly website support seeds you planted early on and nurtured throughout the project. Ask the client if they have thought about the ongoing technical support needed for the site.
Find out if they have made any decisions on how they will handle it. If a solid plan is not in place, share your website support packages, pricing and benefits. If the client is interested, offer to provide a written agreement they can review.
In a support agreement
Follow up within 24 hours of the client showing interest in your support packages and send the client a support agreement. Because you’re sending the support agreement now, the client will have a chance to review it before your post-launch website training session, where you can naturally follow up.
Communicating the benefits of monthly website support
Remember, when discussing your monthly website support packages with clients, communicate the value you deliver and the benefits of signing a support agreement. Focus on what the client’s responsibilities will be as a website owner, what could happen without a website care plan in place, and the benefits you deliver through your support services.
Then follow the Seed, Nurture and Harvest approach to position your website support package as a must-have budget item.
This article has been adapted from an original piece by Jennifer Bourn.