2 years ago, a plumber came to our house to do an annual boiler check. While the plumber was working, we chit-chatted and started to talk about the fact that I was working in the web industry. He was currently redoing his website and wanted to get as much information as he could. I gave him my business card and the story ended there.
2 years later, I receive a phone call from the plumber asking to meet me. His website was already outdated, hard to manage, and most of all wasn’t converting enough.
I have to say that his website wasn’t particularly great, the SEO wasn’t thought well and the contact page was hidden in cluttered content.
Let’s solve it
Taking it from there, I made a proposal in which content came first, so that instead of just filling the boxes, we would actually create with him the content needed for the website, remove all the clutter, make strong call to actions… Well we were going to create a website for the end users, meeting their needs and expectations.
But the more we talked to the plumber, the more two sentences kept coming up in the discussions:
“Today, I have more work than I can handle, I don’t want more work, I just want to replace the 10% customers I’m losing each year.”
“I’m not looking to expand, I don’t want more employees or clients.”
Hum, ok. I know that a new website is not going to make your business jump and win 80% more clients just because of the new design, but a new website should be part of a communication strategy and its purpose is usually to find more clients.
Something was wrong.
But… you don’t need a new website?!
So we kept talking, and it was clear that this plumber didn’t like the style of his current website but at the same time he didn’t need a new website. He didn’t need to spend this money with us. Shame!
His current website has around 20 visits a month, and about 7% of visitors reach the contact page. So even if he was losing his website completely, it would not make any difference to his client base.
Besides, he is already organically growing, clearly thanks to personal referrals.
Because he is a friendly and smiley chap and does a good job, people like him and are happy to recommend him to friends and family. He is his own marketing, he doesn’t need more.
So we realised that he didn’t need a new website. It won’t change anything in his life, and would only do good on our bank account. But in a year or two, he would be in the same situation where he is not happy about a non-performing website.
So we spent the next half hour convincing him that he didn’t need our services and that he should put in place some sort of referral incentive scheme. Maybe offering discounts to new clients he has been recommended to. Maybe sending personal messages to clients who recommend him. Or sending a box of chocolates to his best referrer on a monthly or quarterly basis. Who knows!
Why did we do that?!
We nearly had a deal. This guy was 90% ready to pay for our services. But we voluntarily didn’t make the deal. Why?
The main reason is that we have a strong integrity and we are not hard salesmen. We can proudly say that all our clients (as of today) would be happy to recommend us to their friends.
We knew that the work we were pitching for wasn’t the solution for the client, and we decided to tell him. We hoped that this honesty would:
- Save us from future embarrassment when the new shiny website would not perform differently than the old one.
- If this person has to recommend someone and thinks about us, he knows that we don’t try to make a sale for a sale, and that we are always looking for the best solution for our clients.
I truly think we took the right decision. What would have you done?