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If you want more design clients you need to follow-up.

It requires many hats to run a successful home-based design business. Beyond being a designer, you need to wear the hat of a bookkeeper, a receptionist, a marketer, a salesperson and many more. Often it's the salesperson hat that scares people away, but it's one of the most important ones you will have to wear.

To have a successful design business, you need to be a competent salesperson. You don’t have to be great. You don't even have to be that good at it. Just being competent is all you need to succeed.

I know that being a salesperson has a certain stigma to it. Salespeople are often depicted on TV and the big screen as annoying, slimy people. But the fact of the matter is, everyone is a salesperson in one way or another. If you've ever convinced your spouse to go out for Italian food when they were in the mood for Mexican, you're a salesperson. If you've ever told your kids they can get a dessert if they eat all their vegetables, you're a salesperson. If you've ever sold your design services to a client, you're a salesperson.

Being a salesperson

One thing all good salespeople have in common is persistence. Without persistence, they would never make a sale. As the salesperson for your design business, you have to be persistent when searching for new clients. That persistence requires you to follow-up with someone after your first contact with them.

All salespeople know that the majority of successful sales happen during the follow-up. The same applies when you are pitching new clients. Rarely will a potential client hire you the first time you meet them. But if you are persistent and follow-up with them, you drastically improve your chances of winning them over.

When to follow-up

You need to follow up any time you meet a potential client for the first time. Some of these situations may include;

  • Cold calling (email, phone or in person)
  • Client presentations (When a client ask you to meet them for the first time)
  • Pitches (When you are one of many designers pitching a proposal to a client)
  • Request For Proposals (Either RFPs you've been asked to submit or those you've discovered yourself)

If you don’t follow up, you are leaving things open for someone else to sweep in and use your initial effort as traction to win over your potential client.

Your follow-ups should continue until you establish a conversation with the client or they decline your requests for further communication. More on that last part later.

How to follow-up

There are many ways to follow-up with someone, and there are different stages to the follow-up to which you should adhere. Work your way through the follow-up stages until you establish a communication with the client. Here are a few things you can try.

After your first in-person meeting or phone conversation.

  1. Within two days of the meeting, you should thank them for taking the time to talk to you. Nothing more.
  2. One to two weeks after the meeting, Send them a message asking if they have had a chance to think about what you had discussed.
  3. If you do not get a response after your second follow-up, you could send them a message saying you understand they may not be ready to proceed with anything now, but you can follow up again with you in a few months.
  4. Mark your calendar and follow-up again after the time you specified in step 3.

After sending a first contact email or voicemail.

Usually, this falls under the scope of cold calling. You send a potential client an email or leave them a voicemail message introducing yourself. Don't worry if you don't immediately hear back from them. Follow these steps for more engagement.

  1. After a few days, call or email them again and ask if they received your first message.
  2. After one or two weeks contact them again and politely tell them you have not heard back from them and you were just wondering if your messages were getting to them.
  3. If they still don’t respond, you can follow-up by saying you understand they are busy so you will reach out to them again in a few months.
  4. Mark your calendar and follow-up again after the time you specified in step 3.

Keep following up until you hear “no.”

Remember that the trick to being a good salesperson is to remain persistent until you either get the sale, or you're offer is rejected. Most people, even if they are interested in your services, won't respond to the first contact. It takes several tries before they are ready to commit. If you are not following up you are missing out on a lot of opportunities in gaining new clients.

That’s why following up is essential. You will get a higher number of people responding to your second and third contact request. By showing them your persistence, you are proving your value and dedication, both useful traits in someone worth hiring.

Keep trying until they tell you they are not interested or have no need for your services. Until they decline, you should continue to treat them as potential clients.

Pick another fish

If you are trying to land a large corporation as a client and you don't hear back from the person you are trying to reach. Try reaching out to somebody else in the company. Sometimes someone won't respond to you because what you are offering isn't part of their job description. After several failed attempts try moving on to someone else in the company.

It's a waiting game

To many people, this tactic feels intrusive and bothersome but’s it’s all part of the selling game. Since the dawn of time salespeople have been earning a living through persistence and following up. The tactics are no different for your design business. Keep at it, and you will land those clients you thought were out of reach.

You can be the best designer in the world, but if you don’t practice your skills as a salesperson, you’re going to have a tough time growing your design business.

How often do you follow-up with potential clients?

Let me know 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.

I don't have a question this week, but I look forward to answering yours in the future.

Clarification of the week.

This week instead of a resource or tip I want to clarify something I've been noticing lately. Many people have been messaging me about episode 11 of the podcast about pricing strategies. These people are confused between Project-Based Pricing and Fixed/Flat Rate Pricing.

Project Based Pricing is when you look at the scope of a project and give the client a quote based on the work involved to complete that project. With Project-Based Pricing, every job is priced according to its scope. For example; You might quote $150 for a logo for a local charity run and $800 for a logo for a new law firm. Both are logos, but one will probably require more work.

Fixed/Flat Rate Pricing is when you advertise a certain price to do a specific task regardless of the scope of the job. For example; you promote that you design logos for $250. It doesn't matter if it's for a charity run or a law firm. All logos are $250.

I did not talk about Fixed/Flat Rate Pricing in episode 11 because I don't feel it's a viable method of pricing. Unless your fixed prices are very high, there's a good chance you will lose money on the majority projectsn.

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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 feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com