I love to hear “yes” don’t you? “Yes Chelsea, I can’t wait to have you help me with my project.” “Why yes, Tuesday would be great to meet and finalize my design.” And the best one of all, “Yes, I love everything you’ve chosen and here is my deposit check so we can get started right away!” Getting yeses is at the heart of selling, and that’s exactly what you need to do if you want to be a successful interior designer.
Don’t worry, selling isn’t as horrible as those pushy stereotypes make it seem. As a young interior designer I broke my company’s national sales records more than 20 times in my first three years. That was out of 81 design stores and against hundreds of seasoned designers. If you’ve ever met me in person (or even watched my YouTube videos) you know that I’m as friendly and approachable as a designer can get. So what’s my secret to selling millions without feeling like a sleazy salesperson? Let me give you my three favorite tips.
First of all, you need to stop thinking about “selling” and start focusing on YES! Don’t just take it from me. You’ll hear some of the greatest sales coaches ever say ABC; “Always be closing”, or they’ll call it getting mini-closes. What they mean is you don’t want to wait until the last minute when you’ve already spent hours or days working on the perfect design for your client and you’ve set up a fabulous presentation only to hear
“That’s not really what I had in mind”.
There’s nothing worse than the “where did I go wrong?” pit in your stomach and the realization that if you do manage to salvage this client, you’re going to have to start all over again.
You should be looking for “Yes” during your very first conversation. Have them get used to the positive yeses right from the beginning. Do they want a designer to come out to their home to take a look at a potential project? Yes! Are they free next week so you can meet them in person and gather all of the information you’ll need to create the perfect design? Yes! Have they ever worked with an interior designer before? No?
That leads us to tip number two. Hiring an interior designer is not a daily occurrence for anyone, and rarely do you find new clients who take this step lightly. Remember that your clients are probably a little scared and then treat them with kindness. They’re afraid that they’ll make a mistake, or that you won’t understand what they want. They’re worried that you’ll make them spend more money than they feel comfortable spending or have them buy furniture that they don’t like. They’re embarrassed to have you see their house the way it is now and that you, the spectacular expert that you are, might judge them poorly. Whew! That’s sounds exhausting doesn’t it?
We know that they really have nothing to worry about so make an effort to put their mind at ease and smile. (I know it’s a bit cheesy but it’s important.) Imagine how great they’ll feel working with you and the happy look on their face when they see what a fantastic job you’ve done with their home.
You may be asking yourself, “How does this help me sell my interior designs?” That’s easy. In order to sell anything, you first need to connect with your client. Let’s face it, you don’t want anyone feeling pressured into working with you, and you sure as heck don’t want to start off your working relationship with all of that negative energy. Build up your trust and your connection first before you even think about creating a design.
That leads me to my third and favorite sales tip for designers. I want you to take those yesses and the connections you’ve built with your clients and use them to close your design. When you’re walking your client through your final presentation, remember those affirmative answers and repeat them back to your client so they can appreciate the care and attention to detail that you’ve poured into this unique design that you’ve created just for them.
You can say, “Sue remember when we first started working together and I asked you if you planned on entertaining in this room? You told me that you whished your dining room could hold your entire family at Thanksgiving? Well this gorgeous dining table not only extends far enough to hold Grandma June, but you won’t have to worry about setting up an extra card table for the kids anymore.” (OK, even I admit that was cheesy but you get the point.)
Remember that you’ll never get to see your designs come to life if you don’t learn how to sell them to your clients. Over the years I’ve made a career out of sharing my love for the art of interior design sales and it’s allowed designers like you to grow their business beyond any goal or limit they could have imagined. This is the stuff they don’t cover in design school and yet it makes the difference between dreaming of beautiful rooms and actually making a living creating them.