These quick and effective steps are ones I use regularly to turn prospects easily and quickly into clients (if there is a fit), and you can too!
- Listen. It sounds simple and it can be but too often we get caught up in wanting to tell them all about ourselves. This isn’t about us; it is about them, so focus on how much you can learn, not how much you can teach.
- Ask for the details. When a prospect calls and shares that he/she is moving to a new home, immediately ask for details about the new house and about the house they are still in. Use this as a chance to dive deep and get involved in their process.
- Get excited. Any business can be stressful; it is your job to make it fun and easy. Share with your prospects that your goal is make the design process easy and fun. Offer flexibility to them while still maintaining control of the project and communications.
- Banish the budget. Never ask for their budget, instead ask them what they are willing to invest. These are vastly different questions. An investment can be made at any time, in any amount, for any reason, with anyone; while a budget is a limitation, an expense with a lifecycle.
- Stop quoting. Too many design professionals jump in with a price or hourly rate when asked. If you are being evaluated on your rate, you are at the bottom of the market! A designer of genuine talent is measured on their portfolio, their presentation, and their personality. These are intangibles and therefore eliminate the competition rather than encouraging it. Don’t quote until the prospect is ready to be a client.
- Acknowledge their time frame. Often prospects have specific time frames in mind, be sure you are aware of these and that they are reasonable. Always acknowledge by restating what they have shared with you and that you are available and their expectation is realistic. If it isn’t then educate them about why it isn’t. Don’t leave them with a false expectation.
- Give them homework. Always ask prospects to complete a Lifestyle Questionnaire together (if there is a partner or spouse) and to review current design magazines and catalogues for their Wish List. They will gladly do this and become further become attached to your process. If they aren’t willing to do their homework, don’t work with them. If they don’t invest emotionally, mentally and financially, you can’t deliver.
When you take the time on the phone with a prospect to exercise the steps outlined here you will find that you can determine if that prospect is a good fit (and not everyone is) and knock out the competition at the same time. In 15+ years as an interior designer, I’ve never bid a job. You don’t have to either!
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