Making The Sale

by Jason Vaughn

Sales is one of the hardest parts of owning your own business. As a designer, you would rather design and have someone else do the legwork. Well, that's unlikely when you're first starting out. Unless you have the budget to hire a sales representative or a sales team, more than likely you'll be the one doing the legwork.

Word-of-mouth is the best way to get your company started with quality sales. These types of sales generate the best type of client that is most likely to pay you. These sales are usually from friends, family, or businesses that you previously worked for. Many companies operate primarily on word-of-mouth sales.

Start your sales initiative off by asking a friend if they know of anyone that has their own business and if they know of anyone that could use your design services. Usually, they'll know someone that needs design work. Make the call and give them your sales pitch.

A sales pitch is a difficult task to master. You never want to sound pushy even though you really need the money; be patient with the prospective client. Don't hard sell your client like a car salesperson; that will only scare them away. You need to build a relationship with your client and become a partner with them. You'll be their support area for all design projects if you play your cards correctly.

Have sample projects that you can show them, such as your portfolio. Show Web sites, or other printed material you have in circulation. Make sure you have "leave behinds" – samples they can keep for reference. My suggestion is to get business cards, letterheads, envelopes, and brochures printed, so you'll have something to leave with your client as a reminder of your company. Don't forget to include your Web address on every printed product. A Web site is another great place your prospective client can review and study your company and services.

Another way to get sales is to set up a direct mail campaign and send postcards to companies you find in the phone book or companies that you would like to do business with. After a week, make sure and do a follow-up call and see if they received your postcard. This really helps you get in the door and makes the phone call a little easier to do.

Don't forget about the Internet. There are several sites you can submit bids for jobs and with luck, you will get a reply back. This is the most dangerous way to do business as a designer. The reason this is so risky is that sometimes it is very difficult to track down a nonpaying customer. But if you stay logistically close to your home-base operation, then you will have a better chance of getting your payments.

In final words, make sure and take a 50% deposit on all projects. You can determine if you want to adjust that depending on your client's budget. If the client is not willing to do this, then that is a sure sign they will not pay in the future. Trust me on this, at one time I had over $30,000 in uncollectable jobs for one year. I was never able to collect and since I did not get a deposit, I was not able to cover my costs. Be very careful when doing business and closely monitor your clients to make sure they are trustworthy.

Good luck with your adventures!


Article posted with permission from:
Art Space Design