The original title of this podcast was going to be “How to not be a douche while selling your developer services” an idea from Jesse P. We have all seen our fair share of developers who when asked a question immediately take a “I’m holier than thou” type of approach. This talk can be very demeaning and ultimately turn off many potential clientele. The worst part about it is, sometimes the developer does not even notice.
As developers we all know that sometimes it isn’t easy to talk to someone who knows very little. We try to sell ourselves based on our knowledge of code, yet you will encounter many people that have no knowledge of code besides “it needs to be fixed”. I agree, sometimes the request for services doesn’t come across as great and sometimes a bit annoying, but that is usually due to lack of knowledge. As a developer, don’t immediately start off with acronyms and languages you know, but start off by having a conversation, you will quickly understand the level of knowledge that the potential client has, and you can discuss the project or opportunity on a level playing field.
This approach has worked for me many times. Sometimes I can talk to a potential client and discuss on a high level what code is needed because I am talking to another developer. Sometimes the potential client knows their business in and out, but not so much their website. These kind of clients need to discuss their business objectives, and sometimes don’t care about the code that it will take to get there.
This happens a lot. While talking to a potential client and after gauging their knowledge, I realize that they won’t be able to afford my services. I try to help them as much as I can, steer them to learn something, but ultimately will cut the conversation short or as Jesse said “Oh look, my drink is empty”.
This may sound like me being that “I”m better than you” developer, but every developer / consultant has a different pricing structure, and while 1 client may not be able to afford my services they may be able to afford a friend’s.
I know this is kind of hit or miss, but I think this is a great idea. If you are a developer who wants a specific clientele, put up a pricing or at least a minimum price / starting point, so people know before they contact you. I know this does not work in the real world when people can come up to you, as much as I’d love to just have an autoresponder in these situations, but getting 5-10 emails a day with projects that under my minimum budget aren’t something I enjoy.
Jesse put up some pricing on his website and immediately saw better quality leads from his website, and clients knew what to expect to get before even sending that first contact request.
Developers aren’t salespeople, well not all the time, and you should be okay with that as a developer. I used to think I was a great sales person because I could talk so highly about what I know. However knowing things doesn’t necessarily make you a great sales person. I used to be a car salesperson, and while I could learn EVERY thing about the car I was selling from the basics of the features to the details of the suspension, once I was done adding value I had no idea where to go. I feel like that is the same in my development consulting. I can talk to you for hours about the code I will use, and how I can make it GREAT, however once that is done, I am lost. The issue really comes into play when the person I am pitching has no idea about the code, so what else is there left for me to sell?
Finding a developer isn’t an easy chore either. Shelly had a great recommendation of first going out to the communities, and asking a low level question to see how the developers react. This is especially useful in the case of the Advanced WordPress Facebook Group which, closing in on 20,000 members, is kind of like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Asking a low level question that might not be too advanced, but enough to merit posting, can give you a good sense of the people.
Shelly had another recommendation when you do finally find someone.
Get as specific as you can with your functionality
To a developer, having a clear cut of what you need/want to be built is going to make the whole process a lot easier. Developers aren’t always going to know what is the best for the business, so they will sometimes just build what they are told to build and if it meets those functional requirements, they think its good. While some developer can peel back the layers a bit into the business, not all can, but this isn’t a bad thing. Figuring out what you want and being specific is a good thing to do anyway, if you are hiring a developer to consult with you on a project or potentially pitch a new one, the end client should also be giving you specifics. If it is your business and you need a developer, having a specific to your business list of functional requirements is going to be key in making sure you get what you want, and it is built correctly.
“If they corner me in person at a WordCamp or social… my drink is empty, I gotta go refill it.” – Jesse P.