Today I’d like to talk about a common predicament many designers experience. This question was raised by a fabulous designer by the name of Catherine…

Question: “Where I am stuck is that in order to create an accurate proposal for a client I have to see their space. I’m trying to figure out if having a get acquainted telephone call PRE-visit will weed out the less serious potential clients. Also, I’m considering charging a fee for doing the proposal that would be refundable if they sign the contract. What do you think?”

Great question Catherine! Many designers face this. First, let me say that I get it and completely understand. I was equally as frustrated when it came to the amount of time I would spend with a client, and then NOT get the project! I found myself feeling resentful and almost to the point that I was ready to walk away from my business if things didn’t change!

Here’s what I learned and still implement today in regards to my sales process. As a result, I have an exceptionally high closing ratio on sales calls.Then I heard about, and invested in myself, by signing up for a course that taught me how to use systems, and pre-qualify my clients. It was like a light bulb going on over my head! I felt so relieved and excited at having a strategy and system in place that would help insure that I only worked with clients who were serious and ready to invest. I’ve since refined the process a bit and now I have a rock-solid system in place that works wonders!

1. Pre-qualifying Tactic #1 – When on the phone, I ask questions of the client and ‘steer’ our phone conversation in such a way that I am able to gather valuable information and set appropriate expectations, before ever going out to their location.

2. Pre-qualifying Tactic #2 – While I’m on the phone with them, I’m able to provide them with a ‘ballpark price range’, so they can decide right then and there if they want to go ahead and schedule an appointment with me.

3. Pre-qualifying Tactic #3 – I charge a fee for going out to their location that IS applied to their order.

4. Pre-qualifying Tactic #4 – I do not charge for providing a proposal. However, when I am at their house, I encourage going in phases, and keeping things to just one or two areas for their initial quote.

“Many years ago, I’d have clients ask me to quote their entire house for window treatments. I’d take the time to measure, calculate price and yardage, and then generate the quote (hours upon hours). Then they’d get blown away at the price (because it was for an entire house). Oftentimes they would not go forward with the order and I’d spent way too much time NOT getting the order and giving them sticker shock!

When I work in ‘phases’ it keeps things much more manageable and less overwhelming for the client. It also does the same for me – my ‘proposal preparation’ time is much more reasonable and quicker. It only makes sense that if my prices for one room are too high, they most certainly will be for an entire house! So why not find that out based on one room instead of ten?!”

5. Proposal Generation System – I have developed a system for generating proposals. I use it every time and it makes things go so much quicker! My time investment is much shorter.

So you can see how it may not be ‘the economy’ that’s keeping your client load light. It just might be something as easy as you needing to invest in yourself and learn a better way of doing things. Could it be sales? How about marketing? What about lead generation?

I cover all these aspects and more in my proprietary system – “7 Steps to Attracting Big Budget Clients”. If you’d like to hear more about that, feel free to call 949.342.4564 or send me an email. I would love to help you land more clients, better clients and bigger budget clients!

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