Being an artist or a designer can be a huge challenge when working for yourself. On the one hand the work has to be done. To maintain quality work often can’t be outsourced. On the other hand you need to get out and make sales taking you away from the stuff that you love doing. So here’s a sales process for designers that I have adapted from my consultancy sales process
A Sales Process for Designers
This article lays out a sales process for designers that enables you to get a stream of high quality leads whilst taking as much of the sales as possible out of it.
Now you can pick up jobs on Elance or Freelancer if you are prepared to dive to the bottom and reduce your diet to something that is filling but not nutritional. You can also get the phone book out and blister your fingers on the speed dial and make your voice sound as if you smoke 60 a day from cold calling.
This isn’t what life is about. When you do get work from these sources the jobs are rarely the nice creative jobs that keep you busy for months at a time.
So a better approach is to follow your passion.
Find Your Targets
So there are basically two questions that you need to answer for your particular business or skill set.
- Who has the money?
- Where can you find them?
If you’ve been doing your business a while you know who are the good customers, so the first thing to do is to look them up on LinkedIn. Get connected to the people that you know.
Then you start looking to see where they hangout. Are there conferences, tradeshows, meetings, lectures, events. There will be because in most industries there is a real need for people in it to meet. They need to get to know each other, look for business, find new jobs, keep up to date on the latest ideas. All this.
Then you go along to the meeting with your big pack of business cards. Then during the coffee break there is a very simple process that you follow.
- Look around the room and find a person by himself (not on phone) or a group of 3 or more
- Walk up and say “Hi, I’m Denis, What do you do?” (That is a little bit compressed)
- Let them talk and murmur encouraging noises.
- The tell them what you do. Use your elevator pitch. Extended it out to 2 minutes. Max
- You may get super lucky and have it move straight into a sale,
- Move on and repeat
This way you should come back from most events with between 10 and twenty business cards.
Use Your CRM
When you get home get onto your CRM. If you don’t use one this is basically a cross between a diary, a contact list and a way of making sure that the people you meet turn into business. I use Salesforce (Big scary and super powerful) for one of my businesses, for consulting I use Nimble.
Then send them an email saying it was great to meet, maybe follow them on twitter or comment on their blog. A little bit of grace and favour goes a long way.
Look for Mr Big
It may be that they are a direct target customer or they may not be the MAN who you need to know. Either way you need to follow up because at the moment you are just the nice guy (among hundreds) who they met and who sent a follow up email
So you send them an email saying
Hey John, great to meet last week. As you know I do 3 D Design and you can see some of my work here. Who’d be the best person to speak to at Company X about being involved in some of your forthcoming projects?
I’ll follow up this email with a call so there’s no need to reply directly unless you are super busy and don’t have time to talk right now.
This basically tells him that you are going to call and hassle him unless he helps you out. Because you have already been nice to him the psychology of gift giving means he needs to give you something back. And you ask for something easy. A name and an introduction.
Bang you are to the next level. If you don’t get an email response then you follow up with a call – either about 20 minutes after you’ve sent it or a few minutes after you’ve seen them open the email using something like Sidekick.
We then repeat this step a bunch more times until you get through to the right person. You can do this search by either asking people who the best person to talk to would be, or you can ask them to introduce you. Either way is good. Which is best depends on your situation.
Reach Out And Meet….
When you get to the right person
Hi Mr BIG, I was speaking to a couple of your colleagues, Jon Doe and Jane Bah and they said that you are the man when it comes to X. I’m going to be at Y next week and if you are there too can I have 5 minutes?
Alternatively I can come to your office on Tuesday at 10:00 and show you my portfolio….
Here again you give him a choice. Meet in his office – when he is busy and stressed. Or at a social gathering – which because you are already going to gives you massive credibility in his eyes. That lets you create the personal relationship and if he can’t help you can ask the classic question “Who else do you think I should talk to?”
That gives him an opportunity to get away from you and gives you a new lead to start the process all over again.
Be Yourself – Don’t Sell
There you go a simple and effective sales process for designers to rapidly increase your sales whilst spending time on the stuff you love.
The really big point, the elephant in the room, is that at these network events – be yourself. Don’t try and sell. Talk passionately about your work, about technical issues, about the industry. Critique designs. You being you sells. Not you being a salesman (which you don’t want to be and are bad at!)
Then as always iterate and improve the process so that it becomes a routine, a habit and something that’s just part of your everyday life…
I help businesses of all sizes improve and streamline their sales processes. How do you get the most out for the time and money your spend getting new business? If you get frustrated about not getting enough business or it taking too long use the contact form below to request a free consultation