Doing Business as a Designer: The Reality of Sales and Marketing

Posted on June 10, 2010


Continued from my last post, “Doing Business as a Designer: Getting Started”

If you started approaching your market by emailing, calling, networking, passing out fliers and using any other form of direct response efforts while conveying your competitive advantage to your market, congratulations! You are now a player in this game.

When you look behind you, there are hundreds of thousands of designers who are still analyzing and planning. Most of them will fail to start. I have no sympathy for them. You either get started or get out.

In this post, I’m going to explain the reality of sales and marketing for you designers. You’ll know what to expect so you don’t quit.

You must have the thick skin of a hippo, the back of a horse, and the hunger of a lion (that would make a funky looking animal).

The Reality: More than 90% of your approaches to get business will fail. You will be running into the following every time:

  • No response from voicemails
  • No returned phone calls
  • Nobody viewing your website
  • Nobody sending you email
  • Oh, and remember Joe Schmoe from that networking seminar? He hasn’t call back like he said he would.

This is perfectly normal and I’m sure you can relate:

  • Remember all those “slimy” sales people you turned down
  • Or all those advertisements you blocked on your web browser
  • Or all those emails you marked as spam
  • Or those ignored phone calls from a strange phone number
  • Or those advertisements on T.V. that you skipped
  • Or the lies you had to give because you where just not interested

This is the nature of sales and marketing. So what are you supposed to do? Accept it. Don’t resist because there is no point in doing so.

“What now?” Test. Improve. Test. Improve. Test. Improve. Test. Success!

Keep testing and improving your message on every medium. Once you start getting prospects calling you, you must ask them “how did you hear about us?” This is where you will find out what is working.

The moment you get a prospect that is interested, build rapport and start identify their needs. Ask them lots of questions. Offer them your solution and price ONLY after you see eye-to-eye on their needs. Negotiate till you come to a close but don’t compromise your sense of self worth. Remember, you have a business to run, not a charity to maintain.

In the mean while, keep approaching prospects, even if they are the same ones you tried to contact two weeks ago. Don’t depend on one prospect to bring in all the sales. There is a lot more opportunity out there. By all means do what you can to close the sale but don’t come off as desperate.

Keep in mind, if you have hot leads, keep following up with them. Here’s why:

  • They maybe busy and forget
  • Your email could have landed in their spam box
  • Their dog might have chewed up their cell phone
  • They’re traveling and cannot access their phone due to state regulations
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

Also by following up, you are also warding off your competitors and keeping your company in your prospects mind as the best possible designer.

The sales process is one of the hardest to master depending who you are. Over time you will be accustomed to “flaky” prospects and your performance as a sales and marketing person will improve.

This is your business and therefore you are the best sales and marketing person by default.