Getting Better at Sales: for Designers
I wasn't a natural at sales at first, following these fundamentals helped
Hope it's been a smooth week for all of you designers and creatives!
Recently, I had a convo with a team member. We were going back and forth about sales and closing leads, and we had just hopped off a call with a lead we closed. They talked about how they thought they weren't the best at sales and maybe even think that they're overthinking it at times.
That's something that I struggled with myself because I wasn't a talkative person nor was I really a conversation starter. Now I am when I need to be, not only that but I've learned some fundamental insights on how to get better at sales and leading with value during conversations. Let's get into it!
Getting clarity around the value you provide
So first, to get some clarity about what it is that I want to sell - I switched my mindset from selling "web design" to being a marketing company that just so happens to make some pretty dope websites. With this in mind, it also changed my process on how sites get created.
I'll give you a peek inside our process - it looks like this:
So, all of our customer research and time spent looking at data we uncover some business problems that are usually key in customer acquisition, SEO, or marketing overall. The point is, at the end of this entire process we've fixed and improved more than just the design itself. This allows us to charge more and not only that but provide invaluable insight.
In your business, what's the bigger picture? What's the core problem you solve behind all of that thinking and creativity that goes into what you do? Because there's definitely some intellectual property that you're not charging for too. The thinking behind it costs way more than the design itself and the thing is the design itself is already worth a lot, but they don't know that. They need to see the value, so I think everyone has a unique process that they can extract and offer not only that but the thinking needs to be in the proposals and invoices so they can see exactly what's going on.
Getting context before conversations
Another thing for smoother sales conversations is getting context and understanding to who you're talking to and what's the problem at hand. I talk about focusing on only those you know you can help and creating a good offer around it here:
So with that in mind, the next thing is creating an intake form that gives you as much info as possible about your leads so you know if they're a good fit or not. What a lot of creatives do is they just have a email, name, and message field but I would look into adding the following:
Why do you want to work with us
Where'd you hear about us
What are you looking for? (dropdown with services)
What's the goal of the project (they may not know, but if they do this is their "why")
So the goal of this is to create alignment between offer, problem, result. This is good to have understanding and their "why" because their why is going to anchor the conversation about their transformation and get them to that result. If you know their why and have a roadmap to get there then you're in a pretty good place.
Majority of my sales calls aren't really sales calls I just talk about how we can help and what their bigger picture looks like. I think creating room for them to think big is great because you get to really dig into their entrepreneurial spirit, and if they're apart of a team it gives you an idea of how they can make stakeholders happy.
Just being helpful
Just be helpful, I never expect anything and never assume the other person knows anything about development or how things work so I'll educate and empower wherever I can. I think at first I was making assumptions that the person on the other side knew everything and they just came to me to make it.
It's completely okay to challenge the brief you get and ask questions to get insight. Going back to the sales call I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post, the client told me that they don't mind being challenged and want us to guide them through the process - so don't hesitate to put yourself in the position to make decisions as you should.
I remember one time we lost the business and we broke down everything, did everything right in terms of sales principals, and still came up short. I reached out via phone call and everything, but they just weren't ready to spend money - you can't mind trick your way into sales. It's best to chalk it up (in my opinion) because what's meant for you will align with you.
I hope you've gotten some value from a few of these sales tips! This is how I found success and I'd be happy to hear how you've found success, and if not - whats blocking you? I'm here to help if I can so leave a comment below! Remember to do what works for you, and if it helps record the convos with permission to understand when you're closing the most deals - what's different about it? What am I doing when things are flowing? Having this on record helps you learn.
Oh and btw, some folks got me twisted about this post:
I don't mind anyone sharing content or progress and I don’t like how people assumed without asking when I wasn’t talking about positive things like sharing work or progress. The definition is “superiority over another” and that can show up in different ways. To me I see bunch of gatekeeping and ridiculous takes that I don’t agree with. I want all of you to win and share dope projects — I wouldn't be doing this here newsletter for y’all to learn from my experiences. Just don't want you to feel the need to exaggerate it or act out of character to keep up with the noise, not saying that anyone here does. I do see posts that have some wildly untrue or exaggerated takes for clicks and people getting confronted for not being genuine.
And all of those issues stem from oneupmanship in my opinion. So yea that's getting muted all day.
I got some messages shortly after with a couple of people stating that they don’t actually like seeing other peoples wins all the time and that’s valid. Unfortunately, people can’t say that without judgment, but social media does create pressure for some. I’m aware of that pressure, so I try not to make everything about my progress. I’m not arrogant to think that everyone is going to be inspired by me because I have a business. There’s bigger issues out here and people are going through it, my wins aren’t important like that in the bigger picture so I don’t post them often even if it’s not a negative thing at all. Teaching/writing like this is something I like more so, it’s more impactful to me.
That’s my opinion on my own content.
I have a lot of thoughts about this but I’ll leave it.
Just wanted to let my people here know that I do support you and like seeing you share your work if you seen that get misinterpreted. I care about this because I have open conversations like this with creatives often.
Take care, talk Saturday!