In my business I’m frequently contacted by non-technical (prospective) clients that have no idea of how complex is their current site or what migration features they need.
Therefore I need to invest my time in helping them understand their own needs, even to the point of accessing myself their database to export the current (for instance) Drupal site they are using and check for them whether they use custom content fields or not, what’s the size of their site,…
Obviously, all this takes a considerable amount of time but in some cases once I finally manage to prepare a quote for their migration project I never hear about them ever again. To all those customers I’d like to say the following:
Dear lost customer, in exchange of all the time I invested in you and all the knowledge you gained thanks to me, could you please at least let me know why you decided not to take my offer? It’s not that I want to insist or negotiate, I just want some feedback that helps me to understand what went wrong so that I can try to avoid the same problem in the future. Thanks.
(let me clarify that in fact I ask them this question but I get basically zero answers)
Any recommendation to minimize this problem?
Maybe have something on your website stating:
30% of our projects cost X
50% of our projects cost Y
20% of our projects cost Z
Or “our projects often will cost between X and Z, but each migration needs its own cost analysis.”
At least you avoid being contacted by people that certainly don’t want to spend anything near “X’.
In fact I already have this. That’s why sometimes I can’t really understand what went wrong.
I have some ideas that you could try out (based on tipps I’ve read and companies I’ve dealt with). First — to get feedback from disinterested customers you need to make it absolutely simple to reply. don’t expect that they type a reply, but send them a form where they can just choose options. (still need some qualitative replies, tho, to know what the options are). also, don’t expect them to click a link to see the form on-line, but let the email directly contain the options to be clicked.
Second — I think that it is reasonable to ask a little fee for doing advanced investigation in preparation of a full offer and quote. For the client, the advantage is that you sign a contract with them before accessing their data. of course, your current strategy of the “free test migration” is really good, but maybe you can make the process iterative : the client pays a bit, to get some stuff migrated, then a bit more for other stuff, finally a bit more for the “custom field” or whatever the really hard stuff is. Maybe clients that bought something small from you, are much more likely to buy something bigger, too! Maybe you can also make that small thing look really big and amazing and worth more than its price, while just providing rather automatic (cheap for you) services in that first iteration.
Robert, you´re absolutely right about facilitating the feedback. I´m just sending an email now which I guess is too much work for them. Regarding the second part, the free test is working quite well. When possible I also suggest the iterative approach (for sure when the project goes beyond the professional package).
I also thought about this investigation fee but to be honest I prefer to avoid money problems as much as possible and I´m afraid than even if I´m clear from the beginning some clients would want the fee back if we go ahead with the migration.
Hi – I find it useful if the client can give me an idea of their budget otherwise it’s very difficult to give them a quote they are likely to respond to. If I know their budget I can scale the solution accordingly. I’ve also given ball park figures (on the high side) in order to gauge reactions before proceeding.
“I also thought about this investigation fee but to be honest I prefer to avoid money problems as much as possible and I´m afraid than even if I´m clear from the beginning some clients would want the fee back if we go ahead with the migration.” I have also had this obstacle. I am sort of the honest, creative type and, left to my own ways, tend to trust people…and lose out on time & money! So, I partnered with a person who I get along with that has more of the “business disposition”. One of the policies he has added is to ask for consultation payment upfront. As this consultation process is at the same time necessary anyway to complete the project, we do not refund the payment, but put it towards the final price (which is also paid for upfront in stages, but we are doing web design/dev).
For this to work though, it’s important to emphasize (and prove) your companies professional quality services and customer care. While you may lose some potential customers this way who demand a free bid upfront, you will be paid for the work you do do, and the customers who stick around will be better to work with. My $0.02.