Stop Selling MODX

There was a great piece over on Speckyboy yesterday entitled, “Never Say WordPress When Selling a Web Design Project,” which, for obvious reasons, attracted my attention; so, kudos on the linkbait title. The article itself highlights a critical mistake that most freelancers and agencies make in selling projects: focusing on the technology rather than customer problems and their respective solutions.

Web projects are about solving customer problems around content, brand or a process. Your prospective client wasn’t saying to themselves one day, “Boy we really need XYZ CMS and our business will be rocking and rolling.” They come to a realization that they have a problem, or in most cases, a set of problems or challenges that they have and are looking to solve them. This is what they seek from you.

I regularly speak to developers and designers and many complain that they can’t sell MODX or have to work on platforms they hate because the client doesn’t buy into the CMS because they are used to or have heard of someone using tool-x and think that must be the best. They’re pitching that this tool will solve their problem because it works in a specific way and that requires selling the tool itself.

I’ll echo the author’s point: stop selling MODX and start selling solutions. You’ll find by reframing the proposal, the client can clearly see how their problems will be solved rather than be introduced to technology that might be intimidating and make fear of the unknown, an objection. There are few problems MODX can’t solve in the right hands. You can be confident about MODX solutions and amazing client experiences without the steep climb of selling tools.

What do you think about this idea? Are you selling solutions or technology to your prospects? How do you handle clients who do have tools in mind? How many even bring it up?

Jay heads up Customer Development and Delight at MODX. He started with MODX while running his small web development and marketing company and has a background in Marketing and Management. He lives with his wife Tracy and daughter Georgia in a small riverside town on the South Shore of Nova Scotia.


  1. Simon Giesemann
    Apr 19, 2013 at 09:21 AM
    "How would you like to be able to easily edit your own website?" That's all I tell my clients.

    On the flipside, "Can you make me a website that does backflips, cartwheels, washes the dishes and other crazy notions?" me - "too easy". All thanks to ModX!

    1. Wayne Roddy
      Apr 19, 2013 at 09:43 AM
      Yup. We've had this conversation on Skype. You know that's how Revital Agency does things!

      1. Eli Snyder
        Apr 19, 2013 at 11:13 AM
        I'd say this is excellent advice - a variation of the old "sell benefits, not features."

        It can be hard for geeks to remember that most people really don't care about technology until it starts causing them problems.

        We've found that our clients care a lot about the technology - after it's already installed and they start having problems with it. That's why as a developer it's crucial to choose a good platform such as MODX that won't cause as many problems down the road.

        It's like what Ryan was saying about interfaces the other day. The best technology is that which the users don't even notice.

        1. JP DeVries
          Apr 19, 2013 at 02:40 PM
          Good point. I've been fortunate enough to have clients that trust my expertise enough to let me choose appropriate technologies. Every website I've built since first using MODX, has used MODX in one way or another. This isn't because I sell MODX to the clients but because the creative freedom it provides allows me to accurately recreate pixel perfect front end code using a CMS.
          One example of using multiple technologies for their respective purposes is The front end and protected wholesale sites are built with MODX. Blog remained in Wordpress, and Shopify is used for the cart.

          1. YJ Tso
            Apr 19, 2013 at 06:56 PM
            It's such a common pitfall to talk about technology before the user. I detailed a situation just like that here:

            In the end it doesn't matter what CMS or platform the site is built on if it doesn't meet the needs of both the visitors and site owner. The great thing about MODX, however, is it can be made to handle the vast majority if not all of those potential needs. It is, after all, the infinite configuration engine :D

            1. Adam Wintle
              Apr 20, 2013 at 10:44 AM
              I don't agree 100% with that he's saying in the original article, but I do see his point.

              Namedropping a system or framework can have its upsides if there's a big advantages or using that system or its specifically good at something in the job requirements then I'd namedrop.

              Also I always take the clients technical understanding into consideration. Is namedropping going to make you appear more knowledgable about various different techs, or is it just going to confuse them? Do they even care what tech you use?

              But he's talking about WordPress, which, in my book, quickly hits its limitations - I professionally left WordPress behind years ago.

              Regarding MODX, I generally don't need to mention the name of the software, but if I feel its appropriate then I will.

              1. Pavel Lovtsevich
                May 02, 2013 at 05:21 AM
                Largely agree with the author. But do not forget that marketing is the primary sales tool. So in the CIS platform 1C-Bitrix leads a very aggressive marketing campaign that resulted in the client's desire to own the project on 1C-Bitrix.

                In my opinion it is not necessary to underestimate the importance of branding MODX among customers of IT services.

                1. wshawn
                  May 09, 2013 at 09:49 AM
                  Most of my clients show little interest in anything other than my showing results. Deliverables are what the meetings are about, the demonstration content, and the final product.

                  They don't care how I do it. They simply want to know that it meets their needs and accomplishes the objectives of the project.

                  I am even including copies of my Revo book to new clients, which helps them wrap their heads around the concepts. I guess 228 pictures wasn't a bad thing.

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