Long-term projects are difficult to pitch to clients. People are naturally cautious when committing to projects that have high costs and timelines that extend into the unknown future.
This is something I’ve needed to grapple with in my own work. Custom homes typically involve a long planning and design process. If clients don’t feel that their concerns are addressed by the end, they will walk away.
If you want your clients to take the next steps confidently, you need to address the common concerns that are weighing on them—even if they don’t voice them. Here are some of the most common fears clients have expressed to me about long projects and how to address them.
1. The project will go over budget.
Clients considering long-term projects are often concerned about increasing budgets. These projects often involve significant costs. When they run over budget, clients feel trapped between making a larger investment or wasting all the funds they’ve already put into the project.
Unfortunately, changing costs aren’t always predictable. A vendor may close shop, for example, leaving only higher-cost alternatives at a critical moment for the project. You can’t control everything, but you can prevent the client from feeling ambushed by being up front. Give your clients summaries of trends that may affect their project over the long term.
In my business, this can take the form of market reports on the prices of building materials. By providing your clients with detailed reports on how costs can change, you not only inform them of future concerns, you also give them the chance to spot opportunities.
These reports may point to risks, but they can also reassure clients that you’re in touch with the industry. Clients who are provided with this information may choose to close more quickly so they can capture savings.
2. The deadline will not be met.
Long-term projects can be notoriously hard to keep on schedule. As with budgets, unpredictable events can lead to delays. The real problem occurs when different stages of the project pile up, each one pushing the other later.
The best way to address these fears is with the quality of your planning. An attractively designed and easy-to-understand schedule (even if it’s a tentative one before a formal agreement) can help a client judge whether you can handle unplanned obstacles well.
When you know that unpredictable wait times will be involved (like with building permits in my business), design your projects so that other steps can be completed while you’re waiting.
To some extent, a client’s faith in your power to deliver long projects on time will depend on your reputation. Promote reviews and testimonials that mention your ability to plan these projects effectively.
3. Conditions will change.
Clients may be hesitant to take on long-term projects because they are concerned that their needs, their customers or the market may change before the project ends.
One great way to address these fears is by designing your project to be adaptable from the ground up. For example, you can arrange your projects so that each important phase ends at a crossroads. Give your clients multiple options that still build on the foundation of the work you’ve already done.
This is easy to pull off in the building industry. Clients can keep making decisions about the roof style they want while their foundation is still being poured. They can still make decisions about the siding while the frame is going up.
Other industries can offer different customizations. For example, a web design company can handle site development well before the client has to make up their minds about design. Leaving the choice open can lead to a deal that wouldn’t happen otherwise.
Address Client Fears To Pitch Long Projects Better
Your clients have valid concerns that need to be addressed before they’ll feel confident about hiring your team for a long-term project. Your plan for their project should be sure to address all of these concerns.