Apples to Websites

We met with a potential client to discuss upgrading their website. After sending the CFO a proposal with estimated costs, we didn’t hear back from her for a couple of weeks, so I emailed her to follow up.

She responded that our proposal was much too high for them. Steve, who has been doing this a lot longer than me, has developed a sixth sense about whether there is any real possibility of doing work with a new business prospect. And he was certainly right in this instance; when we left our one and only meeting with them, he whispered to me, “I see dead proposals.”

But even if his instincts were telling him that working with this company was a long shot that doesn’t mean that we don’t give every opportunity our best shot. So when she said our proposal was too expensive, I responded that if she could tell me what they were prepared to spend, we could scale back the project to meet their budget.

She replied that she had gotten a quote for a website for $399 plus $100 for maintenance and e-commerce. That was about 95% less than our estimated cost.

I was stunned. Not because I was surprised that there is a service out there that will do a website for less than $500  ““ I know about that,  I’ve seen it advertised in the Costco members magazine ““ what shocked me was that she would get a quote so wildly different than ours and think that she was comparing apples to apples. It seems pretty naïve of her to assume that what takes us 100 hours of work can be done by another company in 5 hours. Why wouldn’t she ask for an explanation about the difference in services between us and the other company? The phrase “too good to be true” comes to mind.

Or perhaps she thought our actual cost for doing a website is also $500 but we saw them as an easy mark for making a huge profit.  Wouldn’t she at least want to hear how we justified it? I know I would.

But the only thing that was important to her was the price; not the opportunity to communicate a message of quality and professionalism to the whole wide world of potential customers through the Internet. Apparently, a bare-bones, cookie-cutter website is fine with them.

At that point, Steve told me to take a deep breath and calm down. “There’s not much to do except send a reply back to wish her well and offer that if we can be of any service in the future, don’t hesitate to call.” I left off the part where I was tempted to add, “If you have more than a dollar to spend”¦”

I’m sure they believe that if their company has survived for years with a website that even they think “sucks,” then whatever $500 buys will be an improvement. And who am I to argue with that? At the very least, it will have a better color scheme.

Steve has been through the “meet, prepare a proposal, follow-up, and if they don’t understand the value of what we have to offer, move on” cycle hundreds of times, but I have trouble letting go when we have an encounter that just doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe another 99 more of these and I’ll get over it a little quicker.



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