The #1 Question that Will Devastate Your Competition

What to Tell a Prospect Who’s Shopping Designers?

Not long ago I was working with a designer who said she had been contacted by a potential whale. The whale informed her that she was interviewing six designers before making her decision. This designer and member of The Edge has a unique market position and strong differentiator in that she keeps a full-time construction crew on staff. In other words, she can truly maintain schedules and quality standards in ways that many other designers cannot.

So, what should she tell this prospective client?

First, I told her that I would not spend a second on someone who is interviewing six designers. That person is price shopping or blowing smoke. There’s just nothing good that can come of that. But in brainstorming what to say, we came up with a line that I think could be devastating to those competitors and worthy of using in virtually every selling situation. Here’s the line I suggested:

“I wish you the best in your project, but I’m going to pass at this time. However, let me give you one unfortunate fact: Most design projects end with the client feeling disappointed.” After you’ve chosen the person you want to work with, if you have any curiosity or doubt as to WHY most projects don’t succeed…and would like to visit with me about how our firm is structured to ensure client satisfaction…please give me a call back.”

Most Design Projects Fail!

Imagine that! Put yourself in the shoes of a prospect for interior design services. You can say how great you are, show all sorts of pretty pictures, and offer referrals. Blah, blah, blah…just like every other designer they’ve ever talked to.

And then you say, “You know, the fact is that the majority of design projects end with disappointed clients.” Then, like any good salesman do you know what to do next?

Shut up!

You want them to ask…you know they’re going to ask the $100,000 question for you: “Why?”

They’re now dying to know what goes wrong. That’s what they’ve really been worry about. So you tell them…and you tell them why your projects NEVER end with disappointed clients. Because you do things differently.

This is a classic case of getting the client’s permission to sell. Up to a point, it’s just genteel conversation. But once they ask you, “Why?” then Katy bar the door! You can now position your services as radically different, and better than the rest.

3 thoughts on “The #1 Question that Will Devastate Your Competition”

    1. Hannah, projects end in disappointment directly in proportion to the gap between expectations and reality. It is therefore the designers obligation (and opportunity) to set the expectations at the beginning of a project. This includes not only painting a picture of the times that will be incredibly fun and exciting, but times when problems may occur. Disappointment can occur toward the end of a project when a budget-weary client has delays in the installation, broken items, big shipping fees they weren’t expecting…and on and on. During what I call a NCO, or new client orientation, all of this could have been covered at the front end of the project when everyone is still excited, and the client is still cash rich! There’s more…but I hope that will put you on the right path.

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