It's another Sunday night and you've probably had one too many glasses of wine. You should go to bed, but you feel like you need to have this conversation. You tell him how hard you're trying. That you've just found this new mentor and you can't get enough of everything they put out there. It's finally making sense and you just know that your time is now and your business is about to skyrocket.
"Mm hmm" is all he responds with.
He's heard you like this before. He can't help but feel like he's in the Twilight Zone all over again. The amount of faith he has in you actually getting your business off the ground is small. He's heard this story too many times to believe you're serious about it.
You can see his disbelief and get all emotional like you've been watching another one of those sad commercials during your time of the month. A tear rolls down your cheek. And somehow you knew this conversation would end like this.
The tear turns into a heaving sob fest. He's all befuddled not sure what he did and why the eff you decided now was the right time to get all deep. He just wanted to get lucky tonight.
Instead he ends up with you all hurt and he's feeling rejected.
Tomorrow you don't do a damn thing. You just accept the fact that you're doomed to fail.
In your mind you turn over the same thoughts...
- He doesn't believe in what you're doing.
- Your friends don't know what you really do.
- You feel like a complete failure.
- And your bank account is empty.
All because you're waiting for someone else to tell you you're worth it.
No one is buying your design services.
No one is contacting you to say they value the work you put out into the world.
No one seems to know you even exist.
And the sad truth is that you've got your answer.
It's not the answer you'd expect.
Stop waiting on others to tell you that you're valuable and prove it.
This isn't about attracting those affluent clients. This isn't about attracting those bottom of the barrel clients. This is about attracting the clients you really want to work with and they frankly don't give a shit.
You can't wait for some genie to come down and anoint you as the "badass designer to the stars".
You have to put in the hard work. You have to do what others won't. You have to take action.
They don't hand out success at the candy store. And if no one is buying what you're selling it's all because you haven't shown them why they should.
You shouldn't be selling a mood board. You shouldn't be selling a space plan. You should be selling something more important.
It's not your fee that scares people off.
It's that they don't know you, they don't see you as a friend and they aren't sure exactly what you do.
When clients are looking to hire a designer, you can't believe the myth that it's all about the fee. It isn't and any designer that tells you that is effing with your head because that's why they believe they aren't getting clients.
Let's get this out of the way, what you do is important. You're amazing. You're fabulous. You're one of kind.
Now, here's what you need to do. Yes, do. You're not getting where you want to go unless you take action (and action doesn't involve wishin' on a star).
How To Sell Interior Design Services Secret #1:
Figure out how you can make a difference. Figure out how to be valuable. Be of service.
I don't care if you feel like you're giving away your best advice for free and no one pays you for it. Do it anyway on your website (not at a consult).
You have to be of service before anyone will buy your service.
People hire people they like, trust, know and consider a friend. Your friends would rather do business with you before they hired a stranger and I'm thinking you feel the same way. So why not start acting like a friend?
You and I both know there are lots of designers out there playing the 'holier than thou' card. They may seem like they are successful, but between you and me I am sure they are turning off more people than they are attracting. This is your opportunity.
How To Sell Interior Design Services Secret #2:
Be the approachable designer, be the fun designer, be the person that your client would love to have a glass of wine with.
Don't be the designer that others would be afraid to sit down and have a glass of wine with. Don't be the designer that tells people what they are doing wrong. Don't be the designer that thinks you know it all.
You just need to be cool. Like Fonzie. Start there. Be the designer that inspires. Because until you shed that persona that you're hiding behind, not anything you put in place will be successful.
How To Sell Interior Design Services Secret #3:
Charge for your consults.
You will of course have the people who wouldn't dream of paying for you to come out. They won't pay you to design their home either. They want free help.
These people will also tell you that they talked to other designers who come out for free. Your retort? I'm not them. If you value "free" then you should go with what you value.
How To Sell Interior Design Services Secret #4:
Become known for something.
Be the go to designer for a specialty. When I was designing interiors I knew I didn't want to design kitchens or baths. Not my gig.
Design the spaces that light your soul on fire. If you love designing glam bedrooms, do that. Pick a specialty so you get known for something.
How To Sell Interior Design Services Secret #5:
Grow lady balls.
Yep, grow a pair (well imaginary ones cause getting them installed would be weird). We can take a page out of the way men do business and that's by not giving in to our nurturing sides. Don't worry about how much money a client has in their wallet, it's not your business to know. You shouldn't care if they have $5 or $5 million. If they want what you got, they will pay for it. Desperation comes out no matter how hard you hide it.
And don't discount. You've refined your skills and your clients don't have the skills you've developed.
Picture this: you go to the doctor and he said he had a cure for whatever ailed you. You'd probably pay whatever his fee was if your insurance didn't cover it if your ailment was making your life miserable. If after you hesitated for a moment he then said, "well I usually charge 5k for this service, but if you hire me in the next 5 minutes, I'll do it for 3k" you'd cock your eyebrow at the crazy mofo and wondered why he wanted you so bad. Make your clients want you.
One of the biggest problems designers have with learning how to sell interior design services is a) not believing in themselves and b) not recognizing the fact that to be able to design the interiors you dream of, you've got to sell yourself to the client first.
Alycia Wicker is a business coach for creative entrepreneurs. Her clients land more of their own dream clients and make more cash, period. Celebrity gossip whore. Elvis-obsessed.