Not Buying Today
“Are you going to buy it today?” came the question from the salesman. “Well not today” we said, “we’re just testing it out to see how we like it first.” The salesman’s next words were something I’ll never forget, but let me back up a bit.
As a kid growing up, I used to go to my grandparent’s lake cottage in northern Indiana. It’s on a nice little lake called “Lake George.” My cousin and I loved wakeboarding, so we’d go up there every weekend during the summer and spend the time wakeboarding. We were obsessed with wakeboarding. If you’re not familiar with wakeboarding, one of the main goals is to make the wake behind the boat as large as possible – that way when you hit the wake, you’ll go higher in the air and have time to do amazing tricks…or just show off your amazing wipe out skills. At any rate, we were always trying to get a bigger wake.
One day, we got the idea that the boat my grandparents had just wouldn’t cut it anymore. We’d maxed out the size of the wake and they needed a new one. Of course we then spent the next few months explaining to our grandparents all the reasons we needed a new boat and all the wonderful benefits a new boat would provide. They finally agreed with us and decided a new boat was in order. In reality I think they just decided the current boat was old and it was time to replace it, but we figured our selling points must have been quite compelling!
So with a gleam in our eyes, we immediately called up a local boat dealership and asked if we could do a test drive. We’d already done all the research on a new boat, so we knew the boat we wanted to try out. The dealer said it wasn’t a problem, so we set a time.
When we got to the dealership, we talked about the boat, and told them all about our desire for a great wake. As we loaded up into the boat, we were excitedly listening to how incredible the wake was on this boat. We were nearly jumping up and down to get into the water and start wakeboarding behind this amazing machine. As we started backing down the boat ramp, the salesman asked the infamous question –
“Are you going to buy it today?”
“Well not today” we said, “we’re just testing it out to see how we like it first.”
“Well then I’m afraid we can’t let you try out the boat.”
I was shocked. He wouldn’t even let us try it out if we weren’t going to buy it immediately. He lost a sale that day. My grandparents did end up buying a new boat – just not from that dealer.
Don’t Focus on Today
So how does this relate to web development? Well, we constantly get asked for quotes on web development – some of those turn into projects, others don’t. Sometimes a potential client will discuss a possible project but then decide not to move forward. I’ve seen people, like this salesman, get upset that they’re not closing the deal today or they put pressure on a prospective client to make a decision right away. Here’s the problem – when you don’t treat a potential client with care and respect – you eliminate your chances of a sale, now and in the future. I can’t count the number of times I’ve quoted prospective clients, had them not proceed, but then heard back from them later with a new project that ends up moving ahead. Had I acted like the boat salesman and told them I wouldn’t quote them if they didn’t want to move ahead today, I would have lost the chance at a huge amount of work.
So let that boat saleman’s mistake be a lesson to all of us. Focus on the long term, don’t try so hard to make a sale today that you lose the chance of ever making a sale at all. You don’t want your reply to be “Well then I’m afraid we can’t let you try out the boat” because those may be the last words you get the chance to say.