Strategies for Successfully Defining and Winning Client Projects

Strategies for Successfully Defining and Winning Client Projects
client projects

Have a sales role with your company, agency, or app?

Well, Ross Beyeler has some advice for you.

The topic of how to develop a successful sales process can run deep and wide, with expert advice on everything from how to better position yourself and your company, to how to automate your sales process. For Ross, the founder and CEO of Shopify Plus Partner Growth Spark, the most essential truth about sales for any company is that the process has to fit you, and not the other way around.

“It has to be unique to you, and authentic to how you approach sales,” he explains.

Recently, A Day with Shopify stopped in New York City — the third stop in the international conference series put on by Shopify Partners. At the event, Ross dove into 20 lessons learned from his 10 years of experience, which include roughly 3,000 sales conversations.

You can check out his full talk above, but if you’re a bit strapped for time, we’ve highlighted three of Ross’ lessons, and added some additional resources that will help you dive deeper into his pearls of wisdom.

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1. Explore project requirements in groups

client projects: groups

At the beginning of any new client project, there are lots of questions you should ask your clients — but there are just as many questions you should be asking yourself before getting started. 

When it comes to successfully scoping client projects, it’s a good idea to break down and group requirements, organizing them into specific components. Ross and his team at Growth Spark like to organize projects into five specific elements.

Design requirements

What design decisions or custom design work will be needed throughout the project? Some resources on design requirements:

Function requirements

What features do you want this project to include, and what will exist within the themes you select or build? Some resources on function requirements:

Integration requirements

What third-party apps or platforms will you need to integrate with the site? Some resources on integrations:

Content and data migration requirements

If you’re working with a merchant who’s replatforming, what information or data will you need to migrate? Some resources on data migration:

Marketing and analytics requirements

What conversion tracking and reporting tools do you need to set-up for your client? Some resources on analytics requirements:

With a new client, it’s easy to get excited and jump full steam into a project. Yet, the reality is that if you take the time during the scoping process to go through each of the high level requirements, and really dig into exactly what you need for each component, you’ll be the better for it.

“If you really pay attention to each one of those individual components, you can actually build a pretty robust project scope that not only helps prove your expertise...but also [gives] very clear directive to your team,” Ross explains.

“If you really pay attention to each one of those individual components, you can actually build a pretty robust project scope that not only helps prove your expertise...but also [gives] very clear directive to your team.”

Your project scope is a clean and straightforward project roadmap that can be handed off to project managers, who can start working with it right away.

At the end of the day, each aspect of the project is different, yet equally important, and ensuring you give every requirement the attention needed will help ensure a successful project.

You might also like: The Web Designer’s Guide to Client Onboarding.

2. Speak your client’s language

client projects: language

Communication, both written and verbal, are critical to the success of a closed deal. Ross explains that building a strong rapport with your clients starts with paying close attention to the language they use. Do they speak in a highly detailed and technical way? Are they all about the buzz words and biz speak? Are they using Shopify terminology or technical words incorrectly?

Here are a few ways to “speak your client’s language”:

Mirror their language

Ross admits in his talk that he’s been guilty in the past of not doing this, but it’s simple; figure out how your clients communicate, and mimic it. “If they’re talking high level big picture stuff, and you start getting into those technical weeds, you’re going to lose them.”

Watch your jargon

Vague language generates distrust. There’s definitely an appropriate time and place for technical jargon, but if you can make a conversation about analytics or replatforming more straightforward, do it. Avoiding acronyms or buzzwords (unless your client speaks like that, too) will help your client feel comfortable and trusting, rather than confused and annoyed.

Don’t forget about what’s written

While getting your in-person communication down is important, don’t forget to brush up on your written skills. If you have clients in different time zones, or you need to heavily rely on email due to scheduling, working on your writing skills can only help you improve client relationships and drive projects forward.

All of these tactics are important to building more trust with your clients, not to mention creating clarity in the communications you have with them.

3. Create a backwards sales cycle

client projects: cycle

“Timeline is critical,” Ross explains. “Every merchant wants to move fast, they want to launch their site tomorrow.”

It can be frustrating working through aggressive timeline expectations with clients. A great way to not only set realistic expectations up front, but to also create a sense of urgency during the sales process is to create what Ross calls a backwards sales cycle.

Begin by setting up some timelines:

  • When does the client want to launch the website?
  • How long will the delivery phase take?
  • How long will the planning phase take?

Answering these three questions should give you a rough idea of how much time you need to launch, meaning you can peg an absolute start date for the project.

This makes it crystal clear to you and your client about the timeline you have to accomplish everything between that first conversation and the project kickoff.

For example, say you decide the absolutely project kick-off date must be October 1st, and it’s currently September 15th. Explain to your client that this means you have two weeks to scope the project, agree on time and budget, and commit to moving forward. Otherwise, you need you to agree that it’s impossible to meet their proposed deadline.

“Setting that level of expectation up front, is going to create a tremendous difference in conversations around timeline later in the project, and also [creates] that sense of urgency earlier on,” Ross adds.

If you want to learn more about project schedules, checkout Simon Heaton’s guide on the subject, or read Kai Davis’ article on creating client intake processes that will save you time.

You might also like: 6 Simple Time Management Strategies That Will Transform the Way You Work.

Level up your sales process

Whether it’s getting specific with your requirements, improving your communication with clients, or thinking strategically about project schedules, there’s no shortage of ways to improve your sales process.

If Ross’ tips struck a nerve with your own approach, be sure to watch his entire presentation and keep an eye on the Shopify Partner YouTube channel, where we’ll be uploading other talks from the various A Day with Shopify tour stops.

Want even more Shopify Partner content? Get tickets to our next Shopify Partner focused event, Unite 2018 — early bird tickets are on sale now!

How do you handle your sales process? Tell us in the comments section below.

About the Author

Anastasia is the Editor of Shopify's Web Design and Development Blog. She’s a former journalist and freelancer, and loves chocolate stout beer.

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