I'm facing a major challenge. Looking for advice.

Hi everyone,

I'm a first time entrepreneur and it's been a crazy journey so far. Endless ups and downs, a total emotional rollercoaster with no end in sight.
But I still love what I'm doing.

Lately, there's been a developing trend: Many potential customers want our services, but just don't feel like paying.
Hours and days of effort to put in to get the right proposal, make the necessary preparations. Then, payment time! And the “soon to be customers” vanish.

How do you deal with that?

  1. 2

    Agree with cblindsey's bullet points. So would focus on that. Then once you're sure your services are solving a real pain point via validation. I'd then readjust the sales process by doing the following:

    • Not creating any proposals until you've received verbal confirmation from the second meeting with the potential client that they are prepared to pay for your services. The decision maker aka the one with the money needs to confirm this

    • Make sure to receive a deposit or first half of your total payment BEFORE starting any form of project work.

    • Lastly, I'm not sure what service type you're offering, but would reccomend reading this: https://www.consultingsuccess.com/discovery-session

    1. 1

      Hi Janinah,
      Thank you very much for the comment. I read the discovery session article and will definitely apply some approaches (scoring, and turning consultancy into an offer)
      Truly grateful for the feedback and hope I can return the favor :)

      1. 1

        No worries and hope you have a lovely weekend. Re the favour I'm hoping to launch my product over the next few months, so feel free to throw me a vote on PH if you come across it 😊

        1. 1

          Good Luck with the launch :)

  2. 2

    This could be any number of things, but a few to think about are:

    • Is your product solving a real pain?
    • Are you talking to the decision maker or person with the budget?
    • Can you get them to commit (even to something small) earlier in the process so you don't waste days on each prospect?

    I'd try and reassess your assumptions around the pain you're solving and your solution. Talk to customers, ask why they aren't willing to pay, etc. After validating or invalidating those assumptions, you need evaluate if you're on the right track and need to keep pushing ahead or pivot.

    1. 1

      Hi cblindsey3,
      Thank you for the detailed feedback!
      Mostly, they approach us - thus, probably they DO have a pain point.
      I think your second point is very accurate. We need to assess whether we are talking to the decision makers or not. This is something we will now dig deeper into.
      We can explore the option of getting them to commit to something small.
      Any good suggestions on this approach?
      A pivot could be in sight - no harm in that :)

      1. 1

        Not sure how it'd relate to your product, but signing up for a demo/free trial, scheduling another call with those decision makers, etc.

        1. 1

          Makes sense and demo can apply in some cases. Thanks!

  3. 1

    Do they get whatever service for free initially? Is there any website that details the value?

    I don't like offering comments when I don't know the context of the business, but I think having custom proposals for each potential client may be something to review .

    For sure if you are getting consistent results then you need to stop everything until you form some solutions to try out moving forward .

    I'll check if your bio has more info after I post, but if you have consistent (non paying) customers , I'd like to learn more about your business model. People are needing your service, so start listing questions to break down your bottle-neck.

    If you need to talk it out MSG me, or post another one on here outlining your process from when a customer notices your service, to the communication and what stops the sale.

    1. 1

      Thank you for your detailed comment. Allow me to give some insight about the company, our services, and our GTM strategy/model:

      We're a one stop shop company offering a large range of Digital Services (ranging from AI, to Software Development, Digital Marketing, to VR/AR.)

      • Services that are getting traction: Social Media & SEO Management, AI & Software Development (ML & RPA in addition to Web Development & ERP)

      • GTM (or how we get sales): personal reference works in a company or knows someone who is in need and directs us to them
        --> We meet the relevant people (sometimes decision makers, sometimes their subordinates at first)
        --> Effective presentation done
        --> Interest expressed (either verbally or by email)
        --> Proposal required (initially wed put plenty of effort into it, then we decided that, given this issue in the market, we'd wasted a lot less time in the initial proposal until we can see genuine interest expressed by decision makers)
        --> Demo developed (in case of ML/RPA) or Strategy developed (in case of Social Media & SEO.)

      And thankfully, we get a lot of approvals, even signatures on agreements. Then they start to disappear... sudden uncertainty about payment, or the "we will develop in-house..." comes up.

      Note: We don't get any leads from our website purely. It all comes from personal references for the time being.

  4. 1

    UGH. I feel your pain! It feels like there can be a lot of tire kickers at times. What I found helped me is setting boundaries (like, the amount of time you are willing to give away for free, which often includes information on services) and to develop a personal plan for action. The personal plan for action includes my personal bylaws of what I'm willing to do/not do while potential clients are kicking tires. It's a bit of a soul-searching exercise, but if you need help, I'm here for it! I love helping people develop different strategies like this, so please feel free to message me (that goes for any Indie Hacker reading this comment as well!)

    1. 1

      Thank you for your reply :)
      Indeed setting boundaries is a MUST and we have now clear operational guidelines when it comes to "preparations." As you mentioned, soul-searching and asking the right questions does take one places.
      Always appreciate healthy feedback. cblindesy 3 and Janinah's advice up here came in great timing. Here's an article Janinah shared with me that I found to be spot on! https://www.consultingsuccess.com/discovery-session

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