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Would you like to get more design clients?For your graphic or web design business to succeed, you need to find clients willing to work with you. Without clients, it’s a given that your business will fail. But with so many designers to choose from. How do you get clients to pick you over the competition?
If you’re a long time listener of the podcast, you’ve heard me say before, “Clients prefer work with a good designer they like than an amazing designer they don’t like.” That’s what it comes down to. If a client likes you, they’ll be more inclined to hire you.
But how do you get someone to like you? Especially if you only have a few short minutes to make an impression?
My father was an amazing salesperson. He worked for several companies in the electrical supply industry before retiring, and he made a great impression on every one of them. In fact, he won numerous salesman of the year awards and then several managers of the year awards when he was promoted to sales manager.
Every company my father worked for credited him for their increased sales and growth. He had a natural gift for landing new clients. Even the competition had high praise for my father. They may not have liked him because he kept landing clients they wanted, but they respected him and, as far as I know, never talked ill of him. And that’s because everyone liked and trusted my dad.
I didn’t understand that while growing up. Or more like I didn’t pay much attention to it. My dad had an uncanny ability to run into people he knew. It seemed that everywhere we went, someone would recognize him, and he obviously made enough of an impression for them to go out of their way to come say hi. And it didn’t matter if we were in a restaurant or mall downtown or halfway across the country. There was bound to be someone there my dad knew.
I remember taking a summer road trip with my parents when I was young. We were driving through the State of Maine in the USA when my dad pulled into a gas station. While filling up, another car pulled in. And when the driver got out, he turned to my father with a big smile and greeted him by name. It turned out to be someone my dad had met at an electrical convention several years prior. They had only talked for a few minutes, but my dad had made enough of an impression on the man that he never forgot him.
The first time my family and I visited Vancouver, British Columbia, which for those who don’t know, is on the other side of Canada, some 4700 KM away from where I live. My dad ran into not one, not two, but three different people he knew while we were there.
My mom and I would just shake our head dumbfounded. Not only at how many people my dad knew, but how happy they always seemed to see him. This seemingly magical skill my father possessed always amazed me. It wasn’t until I was older and starting my career at the print shop that my dad let me in on his “little secret.”
One day, shortly after graduation from college, I was sitting down with my father, and he told me the following.
He said “Mark if you want to do well in business, you have to work hard. Never complain unless it’s absolutely necessary. And most importantly, you need people to like you. You see, the more people who like you, the easier it will be for you to succeed in whatever venture you set out to do.”
And then he told me his trick. And although my father didn’t break them down into steps, for the benefit of the podcast, I will.
Step 1) Always smile when you greet someone.
A smile is a natural diffuser.
When you smile as you greet someone, it shows that you accept them and are genuinely interested in talking with them. It makes them feel welcome. A smile creates positive energy and sets people at ease. Making it easier for them to open up to you.
It’s a lot easier to trust someone who smiles than someone who doesn’t
Step 2) Always say hello with a firm handshake as you look them in the eye.
A handshake tells a lot about a person. A week handshake gives the impression of doubt and lack of confidence. A strong, bone-crushing handshake gives the impression of overconfident and trying to assert authority or dominance.
You want to be in the middle, offering a firm handshake that instills a sense of confidence, as well as respect for the person you’re shaking hands with.
On a side note. I know with the World Wide pandemic still going on. A handshake is frowned upon right now. I’m confident that once all of this is behind us, the handshake will make its return. And you should be ready to start offering them again.
A handshake is something my father was never stingy in offering. In fact, I remember my friends in high school telling me how much they liked my dad. Every time they came over, he would get up, smile and shake their hands and ask them how they were doing. Unlike the other kid’s fathers, who never paid much attention to us, mine always made my friends feel welcome.
I also remember my father getting down on one knee to shake young children’s hands whenever someone he knew introduced their kids. It made a big impression on the kids as well as their parents.
My dad never missed the opportunity to shake someone’s hand. And I’m proud to say it’s a trait I picked up from him. And I look forward to the day when I can start doing it again.
Step 3) Try to use the person’s name in conversation as much as possible.
From birth, we’re conditioned to the sound of our own name. We react to it in a way we don’t react to anything else. Our name is one of the most precious sounds in the world to us.
I know personally, I pay special attention whenever a character in a book, tv show or movie is named Mark. I remember feeling extra special as a kid when I found out the actor that played Luke Skywalker had the same first name as me.
Whenever you use someone’s name in conversation, you’re telling them you care about them. That you find them important and that you respect them enough to use their name.
Now, this can be tricky. Especially if you’re not good with names. I know I’m not nearly as good as my dad. But I try my best. And something to remember, you should never be ashamed to tell someone you forgot their name. In fact, by saying you don’t remember and asking them to repeat it, you’re telling the person you care enough about them to want to know their name. Just don’t make a habit of forgetting their name, or it will backfire on you.
I know that any time I answer the phone, the first thing I do is write down the name of the person calling. That way, I can refer back to it while talking to them. And if they don’t offer their name, it’s one of the first questions I ask before continuing the conversation. And then I make sure to use it.
After all, what do you think sounds more personable.
“I’d love to work with you on this project. I’ll send you a quote by the end of the day.”
“I’d love to work with you on this, Sarah. I’ll send you a quote by the end of the day.”
Most good salespeople use this tactic because it works. And so can you when talking to clients.
Step 4) Show interest in the person you’re talking to.
Ask any dating expert, and they’ll tell you that one of the most attractive features in a date is someone who shows more interest in you than in sharing about themselves.
Now chances are you’re not seeking any romantic relations with your clients. But the principles are the same. The more you talk about and express interest in the client, the more inclined they’ll be to like, trust and want to work with you.
The easiest way to accomplish this is by asking questions.
Most conversations involve two or more people, each sharing their own views. This is why questions are great attention-grabbers. Questions disrupt the normal flow of a conversation by focusing what you say on the other party.
According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the best type of question to ask is a follow-up question. Not only does a follow-up question refocus the conversation on the client. But it shows them that you were paying attention and that you were interested enough to want to know more about what they were saying.
And questions don’t have to be specific about the topic of the conversation. In fact, the best questions are unexpected ones. If the client says, they got an idea while out camping. Ask them about the camping trip. It’s basic human nature. We like to feel important, to feel special. And by asking questions, especially follow-up questions, you make the client feel special. And when you make someone feel special, they’ll be much more inclined to like, trust and want to work with you.
Now, of course, I expanded on what my father originally told me. But these four steps are the cornerstones of sales success.
- Always smile when you greet someone.
- Always say hello with a firm handshake as you look them in the eye.
- Try to use the person’s name in conversation as much as possible.
- Show interest in the person you’re talking to.
When put together, they create a powerful impression on the person or people you’re dealing with.
Imagine you walk into a car dealership, and the salesperson sees you and calls out from across the showroom floor.
“Hi, Can I help you with anything?”
“Yes, I’d like to see the newest model SUVs you have.”
“Sounds good. Follow me over here, and I’ll show them to you.”
Compared that to a salesperson who responds this way.
You walk into the car dealership, and the salesperson gets up from behind their desk and approaches you with their hand held out.
“Hi, I’m Chris.” And he shakes your hand as he waits for you to reply.
“Hi Chris, I’m Mark.”
“Nice to meet you, Mark. What can I help you with today?”
“I’d like to see the newest model SUVs you have.”
“Sound good. Tell me, Mark, have you ever owned an SUV before?” he asks as he leads me to where the SUVs are.
I don’t know about you. But even though It’s such a small difference, that second guy leaves a much better first impression. And if I had to go on just that initial greeting. I’d chose him to deal with over the first guy.
The same things apply to clients. Remember, they would prefer to work with a good designer they like than with an amazing designer they don’t like. But their ideal choice is working with an amazing designer they also happen to like. And that’s where you come in.
The more you can get people to like, trust and want to work with you. The faster your design business will grow and succeed.
So smile, shake hands (once we can again, of course), look people in the eye. Use their name and ask questions, especially follow-up questions. If you do this, you’ll be on the road to landing more clients.
Do you follow these four steps?
Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.
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I want to help you.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org