Selling Your Design: The First Critical Touchpoints

Through the month of June, we're talking about those all-important client touchpoints. They're the times when you can make the greatest impact on your clients, whether through customer service or design WOW factors. In this post, I want to talk about the first four touchpoints: Pre-Contract, Client Setup, Conceptualization, and Planning & Presentation. That first impression you make with your client will set the tone of the project and let them know how FAB you are and how fantastic the project process is going to be. So each of these steps is SOOO important. Let's take a look at WHY! 

1. Pre-Contract

In some ways, this time is even more important than when you've signed a client! WHY? Because this is a make-or-break step. If you're attracting the WRONG type of client, or if you're ignoring red flags, you are going to be miserable throughout the project. And it's hard to do your best work when you just aren't feeling it, right?!? So the key here is to have the right marketing and visual branding that will draw those PERFECT clients to you! The second part of this touchpoint is SALES. Yep, you read that correctly. You need to SELL your vision, your creativity, your processes, AND your team. But remember you cannot overpromise and underdeliver! So be sure everything is in place to really give a potential client that excitement and TRUST that you're the right person for the job.

2. Client Setup

Client onboarding is SO important. You want them to have every single bit of information they need to know that you are a GREAT steward of their investment. You want them to meet your team, to understand how the project will unfold, to be aware of the timeline and the billing process, and to get a clear picture of how you will communicate with them from start to finish. This is also a critical time to ensure that your team is completely up to speed and understands their roles and assignments! The ONLY way you can do that is if you have your processes and systems in place and ready to roll - so be SURE that you do! There is no way to offer a fantastic client experience if you and your team are constantly fumbling the ball.

3. Conceptualization

You could be the most creative and fantastic designer in the world, but if you skip one VERY important part of the project process, you're going to fall flat. And that is LISTENING to the client and what they really want!! Concepting that fabulous design needs to start with some basic work, like client questionnaires. Those should be in-depth and should include EVERY family member. You also want to be clear on the project scope and what is really needed. We've all experienced scope creep, so be up front about what will be included and what will not. Finally, have an OPEN conversation about the budget. Do not ever assume that there is more money or that the clients will change their minds. Of course you can design AMAZING innovative ideas and schemes, but be sure it all still fits what your client wants. And if the budget will be pushed a little with your ideas, be HONEST about that from the beginning. 

4. Planning & Presentation

Here it is - one of the TWO touchpoints where you can blow your clients' minds!! So how do you present your design to your clients?! Is it through old school mood boards, or through a VR walkthrough? I'm not saying one is better than the other, but I AM asking you to step up your game, no matter what your presentation style is. This can be a BIG show for the client, and they are DEFINITELY anticipating some excitement! After all, this is exactly why they brought YOU on board. So the presentation (and then the installation) are those showboat moments that should be as amazing as possible! Of course you're going to give them functional layouts, amazing selections, and designs that fit their aesthetic and personalities. But it's HOW you present all of that to them that will really woo them. How you do that will set you apart from other designers and will help you really make a name for yourself!

Client onboarding can be a chore, but I do have something FAB that will help you show your worth AND build long-term relationships! My Client Communication Templates are perfect for this first stage of the client touchpoints. These templates provide a welcome packet, email templates, mood boards, AND a presentation packet to help you elevate your game!! Check them out here

Check out more design business tips and tricks

4 Tips for Attracting (and Keeping!) Great Clients

Why Customer Service Is More Important Than Ever

Wrapping It Up: The Final Touches

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