If you haven’t heard it yet you’re going to hear it:
We like you and are impressed with your portfolio, but we don’t see something exactly like what we want to do so we want to talk more about it.
You know that you’re right. I haven’t built exactly your system before.
And it doesn’t matter, here’s why.
No one is your business
The first reason that you’ve never built the ‘exact’ thing before is that no one has the exact business as your client.
No one has their internal team with the same sales process.
No other business has their exact clients expressing the same problems with the site/tools that exist.
So of course you haven’t built the exact thing that you need, no one is your exact business with the exact needs you have.
Good web developers and designers don’t just dust off ‘generic solution A’ and change the names of the clients to match.
They sit down and figure out what the real business problems are. They build out solutions tailored to those problems.
I build ‘hard’ things
When it comes to my specific work, I build hard things. Things that 3 other developers have turned down already.
My clients have often talked to 3 other developers that could do part of the work, then that final requirement is something they simply can’t cover at all.
So clients get sent to me.
That means it’s likely few other developers have built the exact same thing before.
That means I probably haven’t built the exact same thing either.
But that’s what I do, build custom tools/solutions that don’t exist.
Sure you have it, your client just can’t see it
Finally, you often have built something that is technically similar, your client just can’t see it.
For a recent client project we used Fundify to build out the site. From a technical point of view it had 90% of what we needed.
As my client read the documentation they weren’t convinced that it was the same thing they actually needed.
We went back and forth a few times, then my client decided to just trust me because it was our second project and they knew I did good work.
Guess what, shortly after we started the client ‘got’ how it would work and be almost exactly what we needed.
The problem with some projects is that to understand how a past project you’ve done is similar your client needs to know how WordPress is used for web applications and how it’s internal design patterns work.
Then your client needs to know how a previous solution was built.
Finally they have to make a technical leap in their mind to see how that previous solution fits their scenario.
Your clients wouldn’t be hiring you if they could do all of the above since they could just built it themselves.
My basic letter
Yes, I get this question enough that I have a basic letter that I start my response to a client with. Here it is for you to use.
Hey $client_name, thanks for getting back to me with your concerns.
I’d like to address your concern that I haven’t built ‘exactly’ the same solution you need before. You’re sort of right.
First, no one is your business with your team and your clients and your problems. I didn’t just dust off a solution from another client and put your name on it. We talked about your problems and came up with a solution that suits you.
So your solution isn’t likely to match the solutions I came up with for other clients.
Second, I build hard stuff. My typical project has a decent portion that hasn’t been built before. Most of the work you see in my portfolio I was the 3rd maybe even 4th referral on. 3 or 4 other developers or agencies saw the full spec and realized that they couldn’t do it so the clients came to me after hearing my name 3 or 4 times.
That means it’s unlikely that a portion of the project has been built exactly before which is why it’s mine to build.
Third, notice I said ‘sort of’ at the top. I’ve actually built things that are technically similar a few times. The problem is that for you to see it you’re going to need to understand how WordPress works, how I built my previous projects and then you’re going to need to make a technical leap to see how your problem is technically similar to the other project.
If you know how WordPress was built and could build other similar projects and make a technical leap you wouldn’t need me.
I had a recent project where my client didn’t believe my solution matched with their needs until we were almost 60% finished. Then they didn’t need to make the technical leap anymore since I pushed enough work to show exactly how it matched. They were impressed with how it worked with their needs.
So yeah, I haven’t built ‘exactly’ your solution before, but I can build the exact solution you need.