The key to making ongoing website support a must-have service in the eyes of your client is making 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 very start of a project. While this works great for many big agencies who can afford to refuse work if the client doesn’t also sign a long-term agreement, for freelancers and small agencies who need to make the initial website project sale to pay their bills and payroll, it’s not quite that simple.
Along the same lines, while ongoing support is common for enterprise level clients, for a small business client, adding yet another monthly expense isn’t something they take lightly. In fact, most small businesses are actively trying to cut expenses and most small business owners tend to also be DIYers.
Needless to say, making the case with your clients about the importance of monthly website support is often an uphill battle.
Luckily, if you prep the client with the idea of monthly support, educate them about the benefits, and ask for the sale at the right time, you’ll be able to successfully position ongoing monthly website support as a must-have line item in their budget.
But how do you do that?
The Seed, Nurture, Harvest approach
When a relationship is new, the client has no experience working with you, and the project is just getting started — it’s unlikely they will agree to a long-term monthly fee for ongoing services. It’s like asking someone to marry you after the first date.
While there are always exceptions, the majority of your clients simply aren’t ready to make that level of commitment at the start of your relationship. They are not yet educated, 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 also has too many other things to worry about, juggle and stress about. They may be nervous about their investment, concerned about writing website content and unsure about technical tasks they need to complete. Plus, they probably have very little time to worry about one more thing.
On the other hand, if you wait until the end of the project to speak with your client about website support services, you’ll potentially catch them off guard. At the end of the project, clients’ expectations are that the project is over and they are done making payments — and they’re not going to be in a hurry to make more payments.
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.
- Then, throughout the project, the idea and benefits of ongoing website support need to be reinforced.
- Then at the end of the project, you close the sale.
This is the Seed, Nurture and Harvest approach to selling website support.
Beginning with the very first sales call, hints of an ongoing website support option and seeds of interest are planted. In both 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 their mind 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 of what responsibilities come with being a website owner increases. 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, firm, fair and 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.
It is critical that throughout every step of the project, you position website 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 and makes the client feel safe, 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 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 needs 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 for them 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 that 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.
During website training
During the post-launch website training session, if the client has not already returned the signed ongoing support agreement, ask if they have had a chance to review it and see if they have any questions.
Consider offering clients an incentive to encourage them to sign the support agreement. For example, if they return the signed agreement within one week of the training, they’ll get the first month of website support free.
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.