According to a recent article at HGTV.com, there are several common home design mistakes that DIY homeowners make. For today’s designer business building tip, we would like to highlight some of the most challenging situations you may see when you’re approached by one of the do-it-yourself types of client. (Or, would that be former do-it-yourselfer?)While you have to admire their conviction and determination, their lack of design experience and training often takes the DIY designer to a place they would rather not be. As a talented interior designer, when you see obvious design mistakes, you know it’s not your place to make negative judgments about their choices. Instead, your job is to offer design solutions they will enjoy.When the TV Dominates Living Room DesignPerhaps the most common design mistakes from DIY homeowners is this one: designing a room around the television while allowing the TV to dominate the space. While understandable to some extent, since this is where many families gather, it can leave guests wanting.Despite a lovely, comfortable living room design, the TV dominates this space to the point of distraction. This will force guests to focus on electronics rather than their hosts, and vice versa. When you see a room like this, your challenge will be to keep the focus where it belongs, with a living room design that emphasizes people; both guests and hosts.When Style Trumps ComfortFor the uninitiated, the style will often take precedence over comfort – and even utility. When a sharp designer is confronted with a situation like this, stylish alternatives will come quickly to mind.Regardless this dining room may look to your client, or you, the purpose of the chairs is to be sat on, hopefully in comfort to make the dining experience pleasant (at a minimum). Choosing dining chairs based solely on a trendy style, rather than comfort, is a definite DIY design mistake. As a designer, your challenge would be to maintain the look and feel of this space, while dramatically increasing the comfort of the diners.Choosing Inappropriate Design ThemesConsistent design themes make a strong impression and increase comfort in a space. However, decorating too much in the same print can be overwhelming and tacky.A home's decor needs to be authentic and provide a sense of where you are, as well as who you are – as a homeowner and as an interior designer. Bringing order to chaotic or inappropriate design themes is a challenge you will likely see fairly often. Be ready!Unbalanced Furniture PlacementFinding balance in design choices can be difficult, especially for the DIY homeowner. For example, a sofa with mass cries out for smaller surrounding pieces to compliment it.Some people don't have an eye for furniture arrangements, and cannot balance a room. Shifting the pieces in this room to make the space more dynamic would be challenging, so replacing some for them may be necessary. If the furniture has sentimental value to your client, it can always be used in another room, as long as it adds balance to the new space.Cluttered Spaces DominateWhether you find a cluttered kitchen or disarranged family room, cluttered spaces dominate many homes. Although many homeowners deny caring, claiming they’re “not trying to impress anyone,” clutter adds stress and discomfort to any home.Helping your clients reduce clutter throughout their home will enable them to enjoy the space and feel more relaxed. It may also increase the value of their home, which is also a good thing. As we’ve said so many time here, the kitchen is truly the heart of most homes and the hub of family activity, but all this activity can cramp your kitchen's style. Piles of dirty dishes and countertops crowded with small appliances aren't appealing.Are you looking for more business building tips for your design business, new home design trends, designer marketing tips, and product ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.
Small business owners of all types spend a great deal of time on lead generation and client acquisition. This makes sense because virtually every “marketing expert” on the planet claims this is the best (or only) way to build a business. But, as an interior designer, you have a valuable business building resource you may be ignoring – your current clients.
In a recent article at MultiBriefs.com, an online source for targeted, industry-specific news briefs, author Fred Berns makes a strong case for the value of building lasting relationships with existing clients. When you realize that satisfied clients have other needs that you can satisfy, the next logical step is to make yourself available to do so.
According to Berns, “Your current clients are your best ones. They’re the ones who know, trust and value you. They’re the ones most likely to refer you. And they’re the ones as interested in forging lasting partnerships as you are. Perhaps more so."
“They’re looking for a professional they know and trust to handle their future challenges. They know it is less time-consuming and expensive to develop a lasting relationship with a single firm. It’s in their best interest, as well as yours, to develop long-term relationships.”
When you think about it even briefly, this makes a great deal of sense. After all, if landing new design clients is difficult for you, imagine how difficult it might be for a homeowner or business owner to find a designer they can trust and whose vision corresponds with theirs.
Keeping Clients Interested in Your Design Services
When it comes to keeping existing clients interested in your interior design services, Berns offers a simple tip: use the “What about…” question. “No question leads to more sales than one with those two words,” he writes.
- “What about your kitchen?”
- “What about your vacation home?
- “What about new furniture for the regional offices, too?”
- “What about having us redesign all your hotel lobbies?”
While many clients will need additional services beyond a single project, very few will know the full range of design services you have to offer – unless you tell them.
In fact, they may have no idea that there is further work to be done. They are not the expert here, you are. It’s not their responsibility to know what you can do for them, it’s your responsibility to let them know.
According to Berns, current clients are the greatest asset you possess for building your design business and a hugely valuable resource for boosting your bottom line:
“A repeat customer spends an average of 67% more than a new one. The long-term value of each client is over 100 times the value of a single transaction. The cost of retaining an existing client is a mere 20% of what it costs to attract a new one.”
Also, “…the average company has a 1 in 14 chance of doing business with a prospect, but a 1 in 4 chance of working more with a customer.”
With numbers like these, it’s obvious that what your clients don’t about you know can hurt them – and you!
Looking for more business building tips for your design business, new home design trends, designer marketing tips, and product ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.
This post is the first in a series dedicated to providing guidance for you as you are designing your design business; presenting you with design business tips, designer marketing tips, new products and trends, sales tips, and the benefits of offering your clients luxury home furnishings. Our hope is that the information we share will be helpful in growing your client list and building the design business you dreamed of when you began.Client sticker shock can be a sticky problem when you bid on a design project. After all, relatively few homeowners have ever worked with an interior designer and many opt for a cheap but sturdy alternative when buying furniture. This can make talking about the cost of a renovation or remodel an eye-opening experience for prospective clients.With help from a recent article at Houzz.com, here are a few tips for overcoming client sticker shock.The author of the article, design business coach Chelsea Coryell writes, “There are some simple business practices you can establish when taking on a new client and ways to address money issues without coming across like a furniture snob.”Designer Sales Tips – Overcoming Price ResistanceVirtually every prospect you encounter will have some idea of what they want, or hope, to spend on their project. Before you share your first ideas or furnishing recommendations with them, you need to get an idea of their budget. While they may not have a firm number in mind, they will have at least a ball park figure. You need to know this early so you can discuss realistic costs and manage expectations.In other words, don’t be shy about price. They know going in that they will be spending money with you and you are entitled to be compensated for your talents and expertise.Below are three critical things to keep in mind to either overcome, or even avoid, sticker shock from a prospective design client:
- Qualify potential design clients – Make sure your prospective client is ready to work with an interior designer before you meet with them for the first time and do not be afraid to talk about the cost early on. This is a business transaction, not a favor for a friend, and all business involves the exchange of money for services and/or products.
- Stress value over price – Since most homeowners have little experience working with a designer, or buying high-end furniture, it’s in your best interest to focus on the value of your services and quality furnishings while also managing their expectations.
- Stay firm on price – If you lower your price when a client voices objections, you will also lower their expectations, of you and the quality of the furnishings you recommend. You will also ensure they keep asking for steeper discounts, reducing your odds of making a profit.
It’s important to remember that everyone has a basic concept of the difference between value and price. With this in mind, you should focus on the fact that they are making an investment in the beauty, comfort, and value of their home when they hire you.The key to this is adding value and adjusting your client’s expectations. “If price is a problem,” explains Coryell, “then you need to express an item’s value and describe it correctly, pointing out its features and benefits. (This goes for your design fees as well.)”Have you run into this problem when meeting with prospective clients? How have you been able to overcome client sticker shock? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.Looking for more tips on designing your design business, new home design trends, designer marketing tips, and product ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.
If there is one thing we have all learned about potential clients who spend time “researching” interior design options online it is this: the internet provides them with just enough information to make them dangerous, to themselves and us. In other words, regardless of how much time a consumer may spend online before they decide to buy, they really have little to no idea of what is truly possible for relieving their pain points or satisfying their interior design needs.Overwhelmingly, the online competition you face as a designer is based on price: cheaper furnishings, wall coverings, draperies, and rugs or carpeting. Of course, by doing this, today’s consumer may base their decisions on what they read and research online without consulting an actual expert. In fact, they’re encouraged to think that the “advice” they receive online is as good as that of someone with years of training and experience. As a result, they impatiently browse for a bit before clicking the “order” button.Online purchases like these can be misguided and are always impersonal, which frequently costs the consumer more money in the long term.As an interior designer you have a distinct advantage over your competition from online sellers and resellers who focus exclusively on price – you are face-to-face with the client. Nothing can beat building a relationship, the more personalized the better, and online stores are simply too impersonal to make the type of powerful impression that you are capable of making.
Be the Design Expert Your Client Needs
Although many consumers have shifted their attention to online sellers, nothing beats one-on-one consultation with a designer or retail personnel who can provide highly personalized advice on quality furniture that would accurately reflect their lifestyle and image. In order to do so, a designer or seller would need to first take a shift in perspective; moving from merely “making a sale” to offering the satisfaction of creating and fulfilling a design concept that satisfies the needs of the client.Regardless of market niche, today’s savvy consumer wants true value for their money. Therefore, the equally savvy designer must suggest that luxury furnishings can be a long-term investment that can go beyond generations and will never go out of style. In addition, high-end furniture is a direct reflection of a business or a person’s image that would certainly make a statement to prospective business partners, employees, friends, or family. Finally, quality sets or pieces can be sold again through online consignment shops and can still command a respectable price.Click here for tips on Helping Clients Focus on High-Value Improvements.Looking for more new design trends, marketing tips, and ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.
At TD Fall & Company, our goal is to help designers by providing innovative solutions for their interior design challenges. We do this by providing you with access to outstanding products that will empower you to fulfill your client's dreams, enabling you to build a successful design business.Perhaps foremost among those challenges for most designers is the struggle with trying to convince their clients of the true value of buying a higher quality product that really belongs in their homes. From flooring to wallcoverings and from window treatments to upholstered furniture, many design clients become fixated on cost with little regard for value.There are basically two ways to handle this particular challenge:
- Target better – Create an ideal client profile that is based on your market research. In a perfect world, you would generate a client list for whom “money is no object”. In the real world, however, you’ll need to be a bit more practical. A well-researched and thought-out ideal client profile is a tool you and your team can use to identify the specific segment of customers that will bring you the best business. Then, once you begin focusing on certain types of clients, you're likely to attract more of them. As the old adage goes, “Birds of a feather flock together”, and referrals from such clients will help to bring you more of your ideal clients.
- Sell better – Known as “upselling” among professional salespeople, you must learn to create a compelling story that will convince your design clients to buy quality over price every time. Not only will this put more money in your pocket, you’ll also build your reputation as a designer who focuses on value, creating a greater sense of client satisfaction and trust, while increasing the odds of more of those referrals we mentioned above. Making an investment in a quality sales training program would certainly help with this approach.
Ultimately, your goal must be to sell the value and the benefits of your product or service to your customer. This can only be done by keeping your focus on explaining and expressing the impact of the choices they make on the client. If you focus on the benefits and value of a higher quality product, the price will become less and less important. If you don't focus on value, the only thing you can talk about is price – playing right into their perceived need to resist the more expensive options you present.Building your sales skills will have long-term benefits that are difficult to quantify; which is also true of researching your market and creating an ideal client profile. Both will generate increased confidence in your ability to “close the deal” with more prospects, even those who don’t match the profile.Regardless of your talents and skills as an interior designer, if you're a small business or solopreneur, you must accept that your ability to analyze your market and sell to a variety of prospective clients will determine whether you are able to build and sustain a successful design business.Click here for tips on Analyzing Your Market.Click here for tips on Helping Clients Focus on High-Value Improvements.Looking for more new design trends, marketing tips, and ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.
In Part 2 of this series, we discussed the second step necessary to begin building a relationship with a prospective client that will lead to making more design sales; that is, making a friend and finding out what is most important to your prospect.A quick reminder from that post: Every positive sales encounter eventually devolves to the relationship created between the salesperson and the prospect. A positive experience, that is, when a sale is made, is the result of a relationship that benefits both of you – and – as a professional, it is your responsibility to build that relationship.After all, the prospect has already done their part by coming to you (however that may have been done) and presenting you with the opportunity to make a sale, which leaves the next part of the encounter, building the relationship, in your hands.
Overcoming Objections to Buying
More than anything, objections to buying are about you – NOT your prospect. When you receive an objection, your prospect is telling you that you have not effectively managed one of the steps in the sales process: you have not built a rapport, you have not made them your friend, or you have not listened to them as they explained their pain points and their perceived solution.When this happens – do NOT give up – it’s simply time to start over.Imagine yourself walking down a hallway full of doors (client objections). As you walk down this hallway with them, address their concerns and objections, but be sure to “close and lock” each of those doors as you progress. Meaning, when you address the objection, make sure it is no longer an issue; make sure they cannot run back into that door. The nature of their objection will tell you where you took a wrong turn during the process sales process, letting you know where to go to get them back on track.To help you with this, you can ask a question such as, “Can we put this (the concern/objection) behind us?” Or, “Have I fully addressed your concern?” As you do this, make sure to read body language and listen intently to their tonality. (Of course, if you do this during the sales process, you’ll save yourself a great deal of time and stress when closing – but – this is a great tool for overcoming objections at the close.)You want to create a situation where, if they tried to run back down that hallway, every exit has been bolted down and all that is left is the obvious path… Your solution!Looking for more new design trends, tips, and ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the first step necessary to begin building a relationship with a prospective client that will lead to conversion; that is, building a rapport with your prospect that will lead to more design sales.A quick reminder from that post: Every positive sales encounter eventually devolves to the relationship created between the salesperson and the prospect. A positive experience, that is, when a sale is made, is the result of a relationship that benefits both of you – and – as a professional, it is your responsibility to build that relationship.After all, the prospect has already done their part by coming to you (however that may have been done) and presenting you with the opportunity to make a sale, which leaves the next part of the encounter, building the relationship, in your hands.Make a friend, if you hope to find out what is important to your prospectKnown among salespeople and sales trainers as “Qualifying”, questioning your prospect to discover their needs is a critical step in the sales process. However, few people like to be questioned in an obvious manner, which can make them defensive. Then too, in many sales situations, your prospect is unsure of what they are looking for – mainly because they have no idea what’s possible.However, if your concern for their welfare is genuine, your client will sense it and be more open to you, your questions about their needs, and your eventual solution or proposal.Remember, depending on the situation and environment, many of your prospects may fear “being sold” something they do not actually need. Of course, this is simply a euphemism; they actually fear that a good salesperson may “take advantage” of them. You ignore this mindset at your own peril for, even though you know that your intentions are honorable, the fear is very real for them. There is but one way to overcome this – be forthcoming and authentic with every prospect – while being firm within your own mind that your only goal is to help them find the best possible solution.Instead of simply “qualifying” your prospect, engage them in a conversation. Be empathetic and understanding. Get to know them to the extent they permit and pay attention to not just what they say, but also to their body language. Crossed arms and legs indicate resistance, as does avoiding eye contact with you. If you see these clues, relax your own posture and open up physically to them, in an effort to bring them along into a more relaxed frame of mind, and body.Most important, be genuine in your desire to help them find the perfect solution.Looking for more new design trends, tips, and ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.
What is “Making a Sale”?The answer to this question includes a bit of human nature… A sale is made when the value exceeds the price paid. That’s it. There is nothing more to add, and it doesn’t get any deeper than that. The human nature side of this definition is – people LOVE getting a value and, if you're the one who provides that value – they’ll also love you!“Price is what you pay; value is what you get.” This quote is usually attributed to billionaire business magnate, investor, and philanthropist Warren Buffett; but, it didn’t end there. He added, “Whether we're talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down."Even a world-famous billionaire, a man who can afford to buy anything, enjoys a good value!Every positive sale encounter eventually devolves to the relationship created between the salesperson and the prospect. A positive experience, that is, when a sale is made, is the result of a relationship that benefits both of you – and – as a professional, it is your responsibility to build that relationship.After all, the prospect has already done their part by coming to you (however that may have been done) and presenting you with the opportunity to make a sale, which leaves the next part of the encounter, building the relationship, in your hands.If you're uncomfortable with that responsibility, selling is not for you.Start by quickly building a rapport with your prospective clientFear is a component of nearly every sales encounter; where the prospect fears “being sold,” rather than finding a solution. While such fear may be irrational to the salesperson, it is very real to the prospect and must be dealt with quickly and effectively, yet with subtlety. A sincere, well-intentioned greeting will enable nervous and fearful prospects to relax, making them willing to listen, which will reduce their defenses against being “sold something,” and make them more open to making a purchase.Many salespeople have been trained to greet their prospective client in a highly standardized, “Hello my name is… What is yours… Shake hands fashion.” In contemporary sales, this can be a dangerous approach. Since it is highly likely your competition has been trained in this cookie-cutter-welcome fashion, greeting your prospects in this way could make them think you are, “Just like the last guy,” they spoke with. The last guy they didn’t buy from.While you must, of course, welcome your prospects to your encounter, quickly putting them at ease, you should do so in a way which sets you apart from your competition. Do your research and perform your due diligence on your competitors. Knowing the style and approach of your competition will go a long way toward helping you set yourself apart from them. For example, a mildly humorous greeting can do wonders to help your prospect relax.That being said, knowing something of your prospect’s needs, in advance, may be just as important. If, due to the nature of the sales encounter this is impossible, beginning a conversation and exchange of information will be critical to your success. If you are open and honest from the very beginning, your prospect will be more likely to follow your lead.Your body language will often telegraph your intentions, as will the body language of your prospective client. Avoid folded arms and crossed legs; maintain eye contact in an open and curious fashion; reflect an attitude of warmth and concern; be forthcoming and positive, and – most importantly – be genuine in your concern for your prospect’s welfare.Remember, many of these hints to your client are only grasped subconsciously – which means you need to be fully conscious of them at all times.Once you’ve built a rapport with your prospect, it’s time to get serious about building a relationship, which we will examine in more depth in future posts.Looking for more new design trends, tips, and ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.