sales tips for interior decorators

Boosting Interior Design Sales - Overcoming Objections

“It’s too expensive!”

“That’s not what we’re looking for.”

“I don’t think you're right about that.”

While the most common objection you’re likely to hear during a presentation will be about cost, there could be many others that a prospect may come up with. The critical thing to remember in any situation like this is – when a prospective client voices and objection, you have not answered all of their questions.Sure, some prospective clients are simply difficult; they may be holding unrealistic expectations or they enjoy being contentious. Such cases however are rare. Basically, when you receive objections to your design proposal, there are either questions you haven’t answered or asked properly to elicit the emotions that allow your client to commit to buying with a sense of comfort.

Client objections indicate that they have doubts

The key to overcoming an objection is to understand that their objection is merely an indication that you haven’t solved their problem for them. Something is lacking in your presentation; either in your preparation, the way you’ve qualified them, or in the solutions you’ve offered. Somehow, despite your best efforts, you’ve created doubt in your client’s mind that you have what it takes to address their needs and wants.There is only one way to resolve this, you must begin again and take a new tack.This is standard procedure in sales training; to be relentless in your pursuit of the sale and to restart your presentation when the client voices and objection. Of course, you must first address – directly – the concern they’ve voiced, even if you don’t believe that is the real reason for their hesitancy to commit (and often, it will not be). Once that particular concern has been talked out and resolved, you can attack your presentation once more: requalify the client, offer your solutions, and…Ask for the sale again!That’s right, you have to close… close… close the sale.Persistence, simply refusing to give up, is often the key to overcoming objections and successfully closing the sale. It may not be a great deal of fun for you, or the most rewarding aspect of the process but, ultimately, it’s your responsibility to discover the client’s needs, present the best solution, and convince them of the benefits of hiring you to be their designer.The reward will come eventually, when the check clears!

Boosting Interior Design Sales – Client Qualifying

In virtually every industry and profession you’ll find certain terms that are unique; jargon that is identifiable and particular to the niche involved. Among trained sales professionals, the word “qualify” is ubiquitous. What does it mean? In the simplest of terms, qualifying a client is the process of asking questions, and listening to their answers, in an attempt to find the best solution for them.Qualifying your client is a process of discovery, and it is often as valuable to them as it is to you. Since many clients have no idea what is available or attainable, or how to get there, being questioned by a professional can lead them to a place of discovery they had no idea was possible. Asking the right qualifying questions is critical to this process of discovery – for both you, and them.

Qualifying questions

Your first critical task as an interior designer is to gain an understanding of exactly what your client hopes to achieve through working with you. After all, if you do not understand their goals, how can you help reach them? Knowing your client’s vision for the outcome of the job at hand will be crucial to the successful completion of the job. There are no shortcuts here, and the time you spend on the front end will be invaluable to ensuring their satisfaction.Here are some examples of qualifying questions that must be answered for you to gain insight into what your client truly desires:

  • What is the problem you’d like to resolve, or the goal you're trying to achieve? This can encompass many areas, from the relatively simple task of creating more space in a given area to completely reimagining the client’s home (or office). This type of questioning will not only enable you to better understand the client’s needs and wants, it will also present you with the opportunity to explain to them what is possible.
  • Why now, and what has prevented you from doing it before now? While the most obvious (and expected) answer here is lack of funds, it may also be true that your prospective client has simply never met a designer with whom they felt comfortable. In that case, you have a distinct advantage over other designers, since they must be at least minimally comfortable with the idea of working with you.
  • Have you ever used an interior designer before? If so, the client will have certain expectations, which may change significantly if the answer to this question is “No”. Further, if your clients were unhappy with a previous designer, it’s critical that you understand why, or they may wind up being equally unhappy with the work you do for them.
  • What is your hoped-for time frame to complete this? Among all of the most unrealistic expectations a prospective client may have when hiring you, the expected time-frame for completion may be even more unrealistic than cost. You need to be very clear about the amount of time required to complete the job, as well as the extent of disruption to their lives if you're doing a major overhaul of their home.
  • What is your budget for this? Again, controlling your client’s expectations is important, perhaps even more important than the value of the work you’ll be doing for them. Explain as much of the cost as necessary, without overdoing it. Most clients will not want every detail of your estimate (though some will), so take the time to outline as much as you need to close the deal. Once they say “Yes”, stop selling!

As mentioned in a previous post, you must be clear on who is the “decider” during your presentation. Your qualifying questions should be directed to that person, while also taking into account the input of others. Why? Because if the “decider’ did not want their opinion, they would likely not be included to see your presentation.Do you have other qualifying questions that have been valuable in closing the sale of an interior design job? If so, please feel free to share them with us in the Comments section.