Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Better to Work With Offshore Clients

I Prefer to Work With Offshore Clients

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I have to admit I prefer having clients in the US of A and English speaking parts of Europe for clients. Now everyone is going to jump up and say it's its because of the currency exchange rate - you earn more money. Well, it's not the reason, and strange as it may sound.

Other may say that's because I can compete more easily with a favourable exchange rate.

I don't earn more money from international customers, if anything my net return is a bit less than for the same work for local clients. Once the currency is converted to SA rands, I get a bit less then the job fee or hourly rate charged to SA customers.
Nor do I charge less than service suppliers in the client's own country and gain a competitive edge; simply put, I charge at the high going rate (in US $ or UK £) as local service suppliers in the clients own region. If anything it's harder for me to compete with their local business due to things like the separation gap, and I also never get to meet the client in person.

Why I Prefer Internationals

The reason I prefer working with internationals is this. I work in a technological business sector - web development and support. I find my international customers are more savvy about technology in general, and the web industry in particular.

When I discuss a website with a local client, I find they already have a lot of misconceptions about websites; what a website involves, the level of input needed bu the site owner and the webmaster to build the site and keep it updated. It's fair to say the larger proportion of South African business owner clients are sceptical about the benefits of a website for their business, don't understand the need to build larger websites (as large as possible) and keep new content being published.

My international customers generally know why they want a website, and what they want the site to do, how it should look, how customers must interact with their on-line business presence.

They also have an idea of a budget. Local clients generally ask how much will it cost - when I ask them to describe their requirements, and what their budget for a website is, they seldom have know idea about either. I cannot quote for a site without knowing what is needed, the size and intricacy, will there be special features, custom coding, styling (themes). When on the odd occasion a local (prospective) client has a good idea what they want, they haven't given the budget any thought.

It takes a lot of time to prepare a quotation; time that can run into tens of hours. Let's say a prospective customer wants a new website with 100 pages to start, an individual theme, some functions requiring custom Java, graphics designed and so on. It takes time to put the basics into a working plan, decide on the resources needed - and get estimates from Java programmers, theme designers and graphics artists. Once this process is done, I can produce a quote - then the prospective client suddenly discovers he can only afford R20 000, not the R 100 000 it will take to build to his requirements.

Had I known the budget at the outset, I could have said very quickly I couldn't take on his job for the budget, and maybe referred him to someone who would (no guarantee of quality or reliability implied). Or I could have said I can do this, and this, and this withing your budget - but that, and that and that is not included. At the end of the day the prospect would have been happier - I wouldn't have wasted his time, and more importantly, wouldn't have wasted my own time!

Sell it To Me

Here's something else, I find locals want to be sold something, they don't want to buy it. They need convincing they need it, so a fast talking salesman can always get their business over someone like myself who doesn't sell...

Maybe this is why so many local business managers have been disappointed with websites - they got sold something by a smooth talker, and it never reached the promised level. 
I don't prospect for business - my clients come to me. Maybe this is why I get clients from the USA and Europe who know what they want: They've already had done the other thing, looking for the cheapest price, being sold by sales talk. By the time they get to me, they are looking for solutions and quality, not the lowest common denominator.

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