We’ve all been there.
We’ve all dealt with the pushy salesperson who tried to convince you that you really needed something. They come in all forms; mechanics, landlords, car salesmen, and even doctors. Do these people really care about you, or are they simply trying to milk you for every dollar you’re worth?

Some of us have been fortunate enough to deal with honest professionals too. Mechanics who tell you that you won’t need new brakes for another six months. Landlords who don’t try to convince you that you need an extra bedroom to house your comic book collection. Car salesmen who admit that your dog will be just as happy riding in the back of a reasonably priced, efficient compact car. The doctor who doesn’t give you expensive tests for conditions of which you have no signs or symptoms.

The honest truth is that when you are comfortable working with a professional you really trust, it benefits both parties.

I’m fortunate enough to have a great mechanic. If he tells me I am putting myself in danger every time I get in my car, I’m going to believe him. He will make more money off of me over the next several years by being honest and providing solid, necessary work than he would by overcharging me one time only to have me never return.

The same can be said about professionals in the digital marketing and web design business. Be sure you’re working with someone who really has your best interest at heart. Sure, you can spend tons of money on a website that will win awards, but does it really benefit your company if your sales were not significantly increased?

How to make sure you’re working with a company that really cares

Here are some things you can do to make sure you’re working with someone who honestly cares about you.

Ask them what they’ve done for their customers

This is a tricky one. Several professionals will give you fantastic sounding answers about how quickly they’ve turned projects around, how beautifully the piece turned out, or how many awards it won. These answers, while they might sound great, don’t answer the question you’ve asked. What results did the customers see? You can also check for reviews and testimonials to see how other customers feel about working with them.

Ask them for something free

I’m not talking about asking a designer to spend several hours creating something free of charge. That definitely won’t happen. Asking for that is also a good way to indicate that you don’t care about the service provider. What you can ask for is industry insight. Anyone who is passionate about the career they’ve chosen will be more that happy to discuss it with you. Show them some work you’ve previously had done and ask them their honest opinion.

Let’s be clear that working with someone who cares should be a two way street. You should only have conversations like this when you are vetting professionals that you fully intend to work with. The goal is not to eek out free work or tie up their time.

Talk about yourself and your business

Tell the web designer what you do. Gauge their interest. Ask them what they know about the industry you work in, and maybe even what they know about your company. Chances are you’ve been communicating for a few days before the meeting. Just like a job interview, both parties should take the time to do some very simple research on each other. How can an agency be expected to represent a company they know absolutely nothing about?

A good designer will ask questions about your company, your customers, and your biggest obstacles. Then, they’ll craft a plan on how they can help you meet your goals. They won’t try to sell you on one-size-fits-all features that you may not need.

Be straightforward, tell them what your goals are

Make it clear that you have a goal in mind. Be sure that the designer’s goal matches up with that of your company’s. An agency’s job is to help you put your best face forward.

It may seem like your business objective of doubling revenue has nothing to do with your web designer. However, having a clear understanding of your company’s overall goals is important. Clarity in this area will allow a designer to create a website that supports those goals.

Wrapping up

In my experience, the best work comes from two parties being mutually invested and excited about the project. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to determine if the relationship is a good fit. If it’s not a good fit, there’s no shame in looking for another design firm. It’s better to find these things out before getting started on a project. You’ll be much happier and enjoy the project much more if you believe that you are working with a firm that has your best interest at heart.

Anna DiTommaso
Founder of Creative80, Anna DiTommaso built the company from the ground up and believes that the key to her success has been cultivating real, meaningful relationships with clients. Anna has appeared in articles on Lifehack, Mashable, Ragan, CEO blog nation, and Business News Daily.