An introduction that explains what you can do for your customers is definitely a better strategy. You might say, “I work with companies who create [products of some type] who need [what you can do for them].” An opening like this clearly states how you can help a customer and provides an introduction that makes it easier for a prospect to listen to you.
Dirk Knemeyer, of Involution Studios, introduces himself in a way that helps prospects understand who he is and the range of services his company provides. He says, “Hi, I’m Dirk Knemeyer, a principal with Involution Studios in Silicon Valley. We are a digital product design firm, working with established companies and startups to help them bring their new or redesigned products to market.”
Kim Goodwin, VP Design and General Manager at Cooper, offers an alternative: “Build your brand so people call you rather than you calling them. Attend industry events, write articles, and generally get your name out there. Think of your customers as—what else?—personas who have concerns and goals that might differ from yours, and target your marketing at those.”
Why Should They Buy?
If prospects have not previously worked with UX professionals and are unfamiliar with what you do, you will first have to demonstrate why your services are worth their investment and how they will make a difference to their companies’ bottom line. Kim Goodwin cautions UX professionals, saying “We designers are idealists who think everyone should just want to make better products, but that’s not good enough for the people buying our services.” One way to show the value of your services is to quantify the value of the work you have done for other clients. Dirk Knemeyer has done just that. He told us, “We have built in proprietary methods for evaluating and validating our work, in a business sense, that has greatly increased the confidence and comfort level with business decision makers.”
Describing how he works with clients, Luke Wroblewski, Principal of LukeW Interface Designs, told us, “Designers need to explain how their solutions address business and user needs as well as how they address technical opportunities and limitations.” In his Web application design project proposals, he always includes the following statement when outlining project deliverables: “Accompanying text will be included with each set of screen designs to provide a high-level overview of the design decisions made.” By including this information in his project deliverables, Luke gives his clients an understanding of the research and the rationale behind his designs. It also forces him to rationalize and clearly explain the decisions he’s made.
It’s important to understand a prospective customers’ needs when discussing a potential consulting engagement. Peter Merholz, Director of Practice Development at Adaptive Path, described their approach: “We first spend a while probing their needs and goals. We then respond to those needs and goals with a set of methods whose benefits address those needs and goals.”