Showing Your Value With No Holds Consulting

As a small web and graphic design consultancy, Artisans Collaborative does not have the time or resources to have long sales cycles. This is partly because we stay too busy with word-of-mouth referrals and partly because our team wears so many hats already as full stack developers and user interaction designers. In all honesty, it is not our style to sell just anything to just anybody. We practice no holds creative consulting.

Place A High Price on Value

Most of our customers are long-time customers of Artisans Collaborative’s services, so we have established a level of trust and value with them. We always tell the truth. It not only makes for good business but it also makes operations much more efficient.

When a developer comes to us looking for project rescue, or a CEO comes to us for creative advice on their next big idea, we have very little time to play the sales game. We would rather be upfront with the customer about time, deliverables, cost, and feasibility and then let them decide if they want our services. We keep our customers’ respect and business by simply and consistently telling the truth. This also includes telling the truth when we are not the right fit for the work. It is the same honesty that the customer should expect if at some point during the project things get messed up. This honesty stems from the values we hold to as a company. To help our customers get better acquainted with us, we share these values with them in our Artisan Essentials ™ booklet.

Go After the Low Cost of Acquisition Customers

Like any lean-running business, Artisans Collaborative likes the low-cost of acquisition customers. These are customers who come to us with a solid, complete request for proposal (RFP), who already have their management team on board, and who are ready to lay their cards on the table. When this happen, we are able to immediately begin working on a design strategy.

When customers do not come prepared, we sit through multiple planning sessions while the customer decides what they want to do. This back and forth sales cycle leads us to spend countless unpaid hours in the hope that the customer will eventually hire us. By the time the initial conversation is complete and the contracts signed, the project is six months behind. Sure, we landed the deal, but at what cost?

These high-cost acquisitions lead to decreased project value. Our team puts such a high premium on value itself that we understand "free" pre-contract consultations are not actually free. After all, we had to pay our team to meet with the customer. Potential customers need to understand this principle too. By concealing intention, budgets, or strategy when negotiating with a consultancy, potential customers add to the sale price, since firms often have to pad the production budget to compensate for added time. This is often why as sales cycles extend the revised proposals get incrementally more expensive and contain fewer deliverables.

We prefer to keep the value delivered as high as possible. This helps our customers feel as if they got the best deal possible and if not, it is at least the best deal we could offer. It is this satisfaction that causes customers to recommend us to their business associates and partners. High value, low-cost of acquisition sales drive high customer retention and subsequently lower the cost of referral acquisition.

Get a Strategy Not a Sale

When potential customers hire Artisans Collaborative, they are rewarding us for our ability to problem solve and strategize, not our ability to sell them something they may or may not need. Since their needs may change throughout the project, we are also being compensated for our ability to adapt to a changing scope. We really do not like sales. We will just as quickly talk you out of a sale as much as someone else would pressure you into one. For a customer to get a real deal, they must real value.

Sometimes this value is unexpected. A web design agency may come to our development team expecting to get a solution rooted in web technologies, however, they will often leave the meeting with a business strategy they can implement without us. An SEO agency may come to our design team expecting new digital assets and leave with a technical strategy that focuses on high performance hosting that leads to increased search engine visibility. At the end of the day, we want every customer to get immediate value from the very first consultation.

At Artisans Collaborative, usually the creatives involved in a project are engaged in the initial discovery phase and proposal workup. Every proposal passes through the hands of the designer or developer doing the work. Often this person brainstorms and drafts solutions for the proposal. In a sense, our sales team is everyone on our creative team. We are all one and the same. This means that the team that promises the work will be the team that delivers it. There is no sale, just a strategy.

Show Your Value Up Front

Since we assume the project is actually feasible, the customer can afford the cost, and our team is available, we hit the ground running. While most sales teams are more interested in getting a signature on a dotted line, our creative team shows up ready to work. Even though the customer is getting a free consultation, our responsibility is to give the same quantity and quality of advice as would a paying customer. This way, the customer understands what they are paying for.

We show up to work. We talk fast and think faster, quickly evaluating what we hear against our arsenal of solutions. We identify common patterns in the challenges facing the business and offer real solutions. We hold nothing back. We fully expect the customer to show up to work too. We evaluate our compatibility with the customer as much as they evaluate our strategies against their storehouse of existing solutions.

A Real World Example

When we first started working with Andy Candsale from Bogota, Colombia, an entire hemisphere away, we had to make clear, concise communication paramount. Andy was referred to us by a Twitter follower, so we had no guarantee that the initial consultation would result in a new customer. Over Skype, we discussed how we would design the next version of his real estate application. For about an hour he hit us with questions, and we did our best to give solid answers based on our expertise and experiences.

I have spent several months talking to Laravel developers, but you are the first company I've talked to who actually seems to know what they are talking about. You actually gave me solutions to some of my challenges already. When can we get started? Andy Candsale, PADS in Mobilaria

He was upfront and transparent about his needs and his budget, and we were able to find something that fit his company. By the end of the call, Andy was a valued customer of Artisans Collaborative.

Hold Nothing Back

Whether you are an executive, a project manager, or are just looking for some help on your next big idea, then come to the table ready to share. Identify your key business challenges, assemble all known solutions, and affix a realistic budget to your proposal. Then present this data to one or two trust-worthy companies you are looking to hire. You want to base your final selection on the quality of the deliverables. Comparing two companies is the best way to evaluate the quantity against your already established budget – compare apples to apples.

Remember that it never hurts to get a second opinion. We suggest you have a consultation with a third-party professional, like one of the creatives on our team, to evaluate any proposals you get back. It is often a good idea to have a strategist help prepare the request for proposal prior to sending it to development agencies. Artisans Collaborative often consults independently on projects developed by third-parties to ensure that the team doing the build-out is not cutting corners or doing anything that could jeopardize the success of the project.

When hiring Artisans Collaborative, you can be sure that we hold nothing back – it’s freeing. When all the cards are on the table, all the goals are laid out, all the terms are up front, the real budget is revealed, and all the parties are committed to seeing the project through, most of the solutions present themselves. Whether you are a freelancer or an agency trying to get the most out of your negotiations, or a well-established consultancy trying to offer more value to your customers, Artisans Collaborative would like to encourage more creatives in the industry to be, well, professionals.

Try showing your value by also practicing no holds creative consulting.