Ok, everyone, I’m going out on a limb here. I know I’m a writer, but I really – and I mean REALLY – want to help you in the area of selling.
First of all, the website writing and brand messaging writing I do for you IS a form of sales. What makes me unique as a writer is that I understand you and your clients, so I can write about your value in language that will appeal to them.
Secondly, I have a background in sales. I managed several high-end boutiques in my early career, and I fell in love with the idea of using my sales roles to actually help people.
Finally, I also know that you’re in the trenches when it comes to the sales aspect of your business. You’re fielding prospect calls, having sales conversations, crafting proposals (yes, your proposals can be sales tools – not just contractual agreements!), and even selling the products you use in your designs to your clients.
I want to help equip and empower you to have the best experiences with selling you can possibly have. That means:
· Taking the ick out of the sales process
· Getting you clear on why your prospects need you
· Giving you language for your prospects’ pain points and your unique value so it’s natural and easy for you to talk about it
Now, I’ve got a little something in the works to help you with all of that (Teaser! Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the details!), but first, I thought I’d see what a professional sales expert has to say about all of this.
So I hit up my virtual buddy, sales and money coach Liz Dederer.
Liz’s impressive career began with international companies including Talbots, Avon, and Carters / Oshkosh. As a lead field trainer, Liz led the turnaround of an underperforming sales team, growing their sales from under $300K to $1.2M in 6 months. She also spearheaded the complete redesign of an employee sales training program for 500+ retail stores.
Simultaneously, Liz ran her own web design company, working with both large corporations and small businesses.
Liz’s experience and expertise eventually led her to the work she does today: Helping countless start-ups and high growth companies exceed sales goals and reach new markets.
As a trainer and speaker in the realm of sales and money mindsets, Liz transforms her clients’ sales experiences and results through 1:1 coaching, group coaching, online courses, and eBooks.
You can learn more about Liz on her website, lizdederer.com and about her newest venture, Conversion Acceleration, a high-value sales training program designed to “create clients quickly, close clients quickly, and create cash quickly,” here: http://www.conversionacceleration.com .
Liz and I talked for waaayyyy too long to hit you with our whole conversation, but you can listen to a clip of what she had to say here: (and by the way, sorry for my active listening exclamations as she speaks – I got a little jazzed!):
I’ve distilled our entire conversation for you below:
ME: Interior designers aren’t “salespeople” per se, but they actually have to sell twice. First, they have to sell their services to the client and then they have to sell the client on the items they want in the design. How can designers approach all of that selling in a way that doesn’t feel high-pressure and icky?
LIZ: The whole concept of what I teach – I call it ‘sales’ just so we all understand what we’re talking about but I actually don’t teach sales... I teach service. Service is about helping them come to a decision faster. It’s just engaging them in the process and then moving them through the process as quickly as possible. It’s advantageous to the designer and to the client to wrap up the project quickly!
ME: You talk a lot about ‘speaking your value’ and that’s even the title of your eBook. This is huge for interior designers since they’re in such a competitive market - can you talk about speaking your value as it relates to designers and differentiating themselves in their sales copy and conversations?
LIZ: It comes down very simply to answering the questions “What problem do you solve?” and “For whom?” Otherwise, you’re trying to prove your value and convince them that they need you. That’s just such a 1990’s sales energy! It really is about the problem in your clients’ homes that’s driving them bananas and keeping them up at night.
ME: What if that problem is different for every client?
LIZ: I love when people say that to me. I just smile and say, “Pull back. You’re in the weeds.” Yes, there are going to be differences with every client, but when you get more focused and clear on what I call your "ZOAB" - your Zone of Absolute Brilliance - you’ll see that you’re actually solving the same basic problem over and over for your clients.
ME: How can designers get clearer about that? What do you recommend?
LIZ: Do a retrospective look at the past clients you’ve enjoyed working with. You can do that in a little ‘kitchen table exercise.’ Get a bunch of index cards and write down your past clients’ names on the top of each, then do a brain dump of words that come to mind when you think of these people. Then take a highlighter and go across, highlighting all the words that are the same amongst those clients. Now you can put those words on an index card and you’ve got a pretty clear idea of who the person is that you solve the problem for.
ME: OK, then how can they apply that knowledge to their sales process?
LIZ: When you really know that person and you know their pain and you know why you’re needed, then it’s not a question of how you speak your value – it’s just a matter of how often you’re going to do it. The sales process comes more naturally when you understand your ideal client.
ME: Do you talk about that pain and how you’ll solve it in every sales conversation?
LIZ: Well, you’re listening for it. I really focus on getting my clients to be very clear and specific with their ideal client profile. Then we base everything else off of that. I help my clients create scripts that will help them pre-qualify someone to see if they are someone my clients want to continue to ‘play with’ or not. That ultimately helps the sales process too.
ME: What do you think is the biggest mistake people tend to make in the sales process?
LIZ: The number one mistake we make is making financial decisions for other people. The classic example of this is when we as the salespeople decide for ourselves that a prospect can or can’t afford what we’re selling.
ME: Interior designers can tend to get a lot of push back on price (aka rejection) in their sales conversations – do you think that’s a function of talking to prospects who aren’t a good fit or could there be a problem with how the designer is conducting the sales conversation?
LIZ: Usually when there’s extreme objection to the price, it’s because you’ve introduced the cost at the wrong point in the conversation. You talked about money too soon. When I work with my clients, that’s the bones of the ‘sales script’ work I do with them. I give them a 10-point system for those conversations. Once an interior designer understands those principles, I believe they could cover those points on the fly in a conversation in a prospect’s home or even issue them in a client questionnaire.
ME: Any final thoughts to help interior designers with their sales approach?
LIZ: It all comes down to speaking your value – owning your expertise. You’re the ONLY person who knows your ideal client inside and out. So you already know what their fears and objections are going to be when you enter a sales conversation with them! When you’ve thought all of that through, you can be confident with your sales processes.
Thank you, Liz for sharing your insights and perspectives with us!
Happy selling, y’all!