It is embarrassing to admit, but after providing design services for 25 years and selling over 8 million dollars of work, I’ve made nearly every mistake possible. The good news is that I’ve learned what to avoid and how to position design as the starting point for project sales in the $20,000 to well over the $100,000 price range.
In this article, I share a few things I’ve learned that allow me to close on nearly 80% of the client meetings I attend. I offer these solutions to help you avoid the frustration of lost sales or engaging with clients who do not value design services.
Mistake #1 Schedule a meeting for anyone who calls
One of the things that will waste valuable time and lead to frustration is saying yes to everyone.
Everybody loves a beautiful landscape but not everyone can afford professional services. (I couldn’t afford myself) It is critical to qualify potential clients on the ph0ne to find out where they live, what they want to accomplish and a general idea of the budget.
Mistake #2 Showing a portfolio of design drawings trying to impress the client with credentials right away.
At a certain point in the sales process, a portfolio of current work is important, but what clients are interested in at the start of a design meeting are themselves and their problems. The best way to gain rapport and likeability (the two most important things to a successful sale) is to ask clients to lead you around the property.
Give clients the permission to explore by simply saying, “This is the opportunity to put all of the ideas on the table” This approach will put clients into a positive state of mind and open up the possibilities for a project to become much bigger. When you show your portfolio at the end of the walk around, it will be a simple conclusion that starting design work is the next step to fulfill the dream.
Mistake #3 Positioning Design Services Incorrectly
As experienced designers, we often feel our work is amazing and clients will gladly pay for design services once they see examples. Unfortunately what clients really want is a completed landscape project. Although I recommend to NEVER do any design work for free, the best approach is to position design work as a loss leader. In this approach, the design is positioned as small financial consideration and a low-risk for clients.
After working through the design phase and demonstrating reliability, the next step will be to provide installation or project management services. In the construction contract, all of the design fees can be re-captured along with significant profit margins for managing the installation.
This approach may put stand alone designers at a disadvantage. For designers who don’t want the responsibilities of running a construction company, I recommend developing a long-term relationship with reliable subcontractors and project manage the installation. This will ensure the project is built as intended and allow you to be competitive with design / build companies.
What to Do Next
These are just a few examples of the mistakes to avoid. To end the frustration and get a complete system that results in getting paid $3,000 to $5000.00 for design projects, click to learn about our live online training. How to Market and Sell Design Services.
This training provides the tools to market yourself in a competitive field, manage client meetings and develop design contracts that are highly profitable. To see the times and dates for the next online training click here.