[thelist] How to Talk Down to the Client (WAS: getting rid of the quote builder)

the head lemur headlemur at lemurzone.com
Wed Dec 8 13:18:00 CST 2004

> But how does one best handle this sort of dumbing-down to a general
> audience, where the voice needs to be a bit more formal?

Go to the toy store and pick up a stuffed dog and a stuffed pony.

When you get to the lectern you announce that this is the dog and pony show.

It is not a dumbing down process as much as it is an educating up process.

The dog and pony break the ice, and inform the audience that even though you
are committing an act of salesmanship, you are also informing of them
something different.

Most times you will be talking to some sort of business group, or
association for an industry. You already know the pixel mechanics part, but
probably are real light on the group or association goals. Don't feel bad as
the majority of us do not speak in front of groups or deal with more than
one client at a time.

All associations have a few things in common, members for one. It does not
matter if they are a business to business group or the amalgamated
association of left handed plumbers. The important issue is that the members
have taken the time and money from their own business to support a group
that should benefit all of the members.

Your mission is to perform some due diligence/discovery in terms of what
issues these groups have and what the association's role in advancing the
members businesses is.
The three key issues for all associations are Value, Standards and Profit.

The Value issue is that the association is providing a forum for
information, marketing, and networking.

The Standards issue is the association's arrival at a baseline series of
guidelines that the members adhere to, as in Codes of Ethics, Standards of
Performance, ten commandments of business.

The Profit issue is the follow through on the Value and Standards issues.
Demonstrating that membership has it's privileges and benefits in real
bottom line, dollars in the pocket, performance.

Inserting a website as a vehicle for achieving these goals now becomes an
easy task as you have defined the groups goals, explained them, (yes you are
restating the mission) and extended the reach of the group to benefit it's

The other plus to group dog and pony shows is that you now have a group of
prospects beyond the association site.

This also works for individuals.

> Second question, less important but to me more interesting: is this the
> norm? I understand that few people in the client position in this industry
> understand the deep technical details of the web, but is it really the
> that they don't know ANYthing?

The question is; Why do they need to know/learn anything to use your

Do you need to know the Injection molding process, electrical engineering,
and agriculture on mountainsides to fill your coffee maker?

>I have met many developers who are LOUSY with clients.

We all start out this way. Consider the stages of web design, we are
individuals, sitting at a desk, focused on a computer screen pushing pixels
around to make pretty pictures. Not a lot of social interaction doing this.
Plus it can be embarrassing having a client listen to you screaming at your

Even when we have a client sitting next to us, we have a tendency to not
articulate/explain what it is exactly that we are doing. It slows us down if
we have to talk about it.

The other big thing about webdesign as a business is the business part.
Money for Stuff is my favorite expression for what I do, however, the
reality of running a business requires an enormous amount of work not
directly related to pushing pixels around, like book keeping, salesmanship,
calling on clients and prospects, vendors, and the continuing education of
ourselves as the web, code, standards, search engines, directories, and life
away from the keyboard changes.

If they are giving you money you have to hold their hand.

How much handholding is a direct relationship on how much control you give
the client over your keyboard. I give my clients almost no control one I
have decided on a course of action.

*One is that I am the Professional.

This is why I convinced you to give me money.

*You have to remember that part even if you have to write it on the

*Two is that I want my clients to be my sales department.

This implies that you work your butt off to further your client's business,
so they will brag about you.
Envy is one of the strongest forces in the universe.
So is one upsmanship

Nothing attracts Success like Success.

*Three, You Are Not Alone.

They want a shopping cart? You don't do shopping carts?
Somebody on this list does. From cleaning your keyboard to load balancing
servers, there is sombody on this list, who has been there, done that, and
has the t shirt.

the head lemur

Interviews: http://www.lemurzone.com/pixelview/
blog: http://theheadlemur.typepad.com/
Community: http://www.evolt.org

More information about the thelist mailing list