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Have you tried downselling to win over design clients?

Building client relationships is one of, if not the most important thing you can do as a designer. One of the best ways to build relationships is by downselling to your design clients.

In a previous episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I talked about Upselling to increase your design revenue. In it, I mentioned how upselling is an excellent way of delivering more value to your clients which in turn will make them think higher of you. Upselling is a great way to build relationships with your clients while also increasing your revenue. However, downselling is another great skill you should practice to not only build client relationships but to win over clients that otherwise would not have hired you in the first place. Downselling is vital in building your company’s reputation.

What is Downselling?

Downselling is when you offer something of lesser value to win over a client. Usually, once the client has indicated, they won’t be proceeding with your original proposal. For example, you could offer to build a smaller website for less money by eliminating some of the features a client requested.

Downselling can also be used when you believe a client is asking for more than what they need or want something that is wrong for them and you counter with something of lesser value that suits them better. This is more of an ethical decision. Sure you can design what the client is asking for and charge them accordingly. But if you downsell them on a lesser idea because it’s the right thing to do, they will realise you have saved them money and possibly misery, and they will become big fans of yours. For example, after looking at their content, you may suggest designing a more economical postcard or rack card instead of an expensive tri-fold brochure.

Anything you do that helps the client achieve their objective and save them money will raise their impression of you and strengthen your relationship.

When should you downsell?

The best time to downsell is once you realise a client isn’t going to move forward with what you are offering them. However, be careful of downselling too early. Sometimes a client simply needs more time or more convincing before agreeing to your initial proposal.

But if there are indications that the client is not buying what you are offering them, then a downsell can work.

How do you downsell?

The best way to introduce a downsell is by acknowledging that your initial offer was too much for the client or that what the client is asking for is more than what they need.

“James, I understand that my website proposal is more than what you budgeted for. How about we go over the scope of the job once more and see if there are any areas we can rework in order to cut costs.” 

In this example, the client was rejecting a quote for an eCommerce website to sell their new product. The downsell is to offer them a simple site with a purchase button hooked up through PayPal, it accomplishes their objective at a more economical cost.

When it's a case of the client wanting more than they need it could be something like:

“Jennifer, I would love to design the souveneir program for your upcoming concert tour. You mentioned how expensive it is to put on this tour. May I suggest going with a saddle stiched program instead of having it perfect bound? Your fans will enjoy it just as much and it will save you a lot of money on the production costs.”

Clients like Jennifer will appreciate your honesty and realise that you have their best interest in mind and your not just viewing them as another source of income.

What not to do when Downselling

One thing you should never do when downsellng is just lowering your price. Dropping your price is not downselling, it’s informing your client that you typically charge more for what you do than what you think you are worth.

Trying to win over a client by dropping your prices will have the opposite effect to what you are trying to achieve. The client will always second guess your future dealings.

If you can’t offer an alternate product or service of lesser value that will still benefit the client, you are better off to let the client walk away.

Other ways to downsell

Sometimes budget or needs are not the issues. Sometimes it’s the resistance of working with someone new for the first time. Downselling can help in these situations.

When a client is showing hesitation because they don’t know you or are unsure of your work, you can downsell your services by offering to take on a single part of a more massive project for them to get to know you better.

“Charles, I understand how hard it can be to trust your entire marketing campaign to someone you just met. Here’s a proposal, what if we start with just the post card design. If you like what I design for you then we can discuss the rest of the campaign.”

This “foot in the door” strategy is a great way to downsell a hesitant client and to build an excellent foundation for the relationship you are starting with them.

Downselling pays off

In my experience, there is no downside to downselling. Your clients will appreciate your honesty and will be inclined to bring you more projects in the future and to refer you to others. After all, a satisfied client is the best marketing strategy you can have for your design business.

Do you practice downselling?

Share your experience with downselling by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Tiana

I just started out in this business and I’m finding it difficult to figure out invoicing and how to charge my clients. Do you take a deposit up front or do you charge for the entire job once it’s done.

To find out what I told Tiana you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Depositphotos

DepositPhotos is a great stock photography site that offers a reverse image search. No more struggles to find words to describe the right stock image; now you can show DepositPhotos what you want. Upload your photo to reverse image search, and choose from lots of similar high-res images.

You can either upload a picture from your computer or copy/paste the URL of a photo you saw online into the search bar. Reverse image search uses image recognition to analyse all components of the photo and provide similar image options in just a few seconds.

If this is something that interests you, please check out DepositPhotos

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Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com