First of all, a huge thank you to all of those who attended the webinar last week on How to Effectively Ask for Client Feedback with Mydoma! It was a HUGE hit! We heard lots of “fantastic!” and “fabulous!” and “amazing!” from all over social media and that free giveaway flew off the shelves like hot cakes! So thank you again for all those who registered, and a very warm welcome to all of those who’ve joined us on this blog as a result of the webinar!
HUGE SUMMER SALE!!
Also, one other thing before we move on, next weekend, May 31st – June 3rd, we’ll be having a HUGE SUMMER SALE! I’m super pumped about sharing it with you all but can’t share any details just yet! Gotta keep them a secret for just a little bit longer. But let’s just say, this is not to be missed! So stay tuned for next week’s blog post so you don’t miss out!
Focus on Your Value, Not Your Access
Now on to this week’s post – the big mistake to avoid when talking to potential clients. With the last few designer clients I’ve been working with, I’ve noticed a trend. A trend that frankly worries me. It worries me quite a bit. Because they’re putting value on something else other than expertise. They’re putting value on something other than their brilliance, capabilities, and problem solving as a designer and project manager. So what is this trend that I encouraged them to put a halt to? Discussing access to trade only items and better pricing as a selling point when they’re in the beginning discussions with a potential client.
Now why does this terrify me and why do I steer every one of my designer clients away from overly focusing on this conversation? For two reasons. One, your access to trade only items and better pricing is controlled by someone other than you. And that “exclusive” access is becoming less and less “exclusive” every day. Within five years, 80% of companies that are now trade only companies, may in fact decide that they are now going to sell directly to the public. Or that they will work through a third party where the public can access their, and other vendors’, goods. What happens with trade only items and pricing is completely out of your hands. So focusing on something that you have no control over, is a dicey situation. And could change at any time. So it’s better to be ahead of the curve, rather than behind it and not overly focus on something that you have no idea if or when or how it will change.
You are Not a Middle Man, You are a Designer
But what I focus on even more with my clients, is that clients shouldn’t be excited that working with you means they get access to something else. Clients should be excited that working with you, means they get access to…… drumroll please….. YOU! Clients should be working with you because they want to work with you. Not because you’re a middle man they have to use to get something else.
You aren’t Pottery Barn. Or Big Lots. Or Target. You aren’t a store for people to get access to items. You are a designer who is full of knowledge, experience, education, ideas, know how, problem solving, and creativity. THAT is what they’re getting access to. That is what they’re paying for. THAT is what you should be selling. Sure it’s wonderful that they get pieces that their friends won’t have, or that won’t be found in a catalog (at least right now), or that the pricing you offer is competitive. Those are all good and even great things, but they’re not the best thing. They’re not the reason why someone would or should hire you. What that the client gets by hiring you, by working with you and your firm, is you and your firm. And that’s a heck of a lot.
Being Able to Buy and Knowing What to Buy are VERY Different Things
Now if you’ve followed me for any time you know that I used to work with wealth management firm, Morgan Stanley, before beginning my career in the design world. And my husband, Aaron, is also in the wealth management industry. So I’ve been entrenched in the financial world, and it’s woes, for quite some time. And let me tell you, you are not alone in this plight of figuring out what your value is to the client.
In the past the public would only be able to access certain types of accounts or investments, if they worked with a broker or advisor. There was no DIY version. There were no other options. But the times have changed. You can open all kinds of accounts on any number of online sites, watch financial news and money hype shows and think you have an idea of what to do, and then purchase most of the investments you would with an advisor, right on your own. So why hire an advisor? Why hire a professional?
Because being able to buy something, and knowing what to buy, what not to buy, why something is good for this family but not that family, and why it’s good for this situation but not that one, and then being able to explain why, that is why you work with an expert. That is what makes an expert.
You are the Source. You are What They Get Access to.
So when you’re reworking your welcome packet, or updating your website, or having those screening calls and initial consultations, remember to give little focus to what you can give them access to. You don’t want them to see you as a middle man (or, woman). You don’t want them to see you as just a bridge that they have to cross to get their true destination. You are the destination. You, and what you bring in all your glory, are the final destination. You are a source. Not of items. But of knowing why and why not, why this and not that, why this fabric won’t work but this one will, why this sofa isn’t right even though it’s beautiful but this sofa is exactly right even though it’s not what they would have chosen on their own. Clients hire you to access you and your vision. Not to access your designer discount. Well, the good ones anyway.
So remember the next time you start to say, “By working with us you not only get access to our exclusive items but also our exclusive pricing…” you need to replace it with “By working with us you get access to an amazing team of professionals who are highly trained, have years of experience, and work closely with each and every client to really understand your design dreams, how you want the space to function, …” That is what they get access to. That is what they pay you for. And that, that my dear, will never change. And amen to that.
If you’d like even more ideas on how to provide the kind of client service that gets you higher fees and profits, visit the Client Service Consultation page to find out more!