Selling your custom work: from start to finish
Author Melanie Quinn, Business Development and Inside Sales Associate at CustomMade, shares her experience on sealing the deal…when she’s not selling she’s playing sports, painting the town red, and writing poetry.
Be Persistent: Every lead is a possible sale. If the person took the time to contact you, the interest is there. So call, email or if possible, stop-by to chat. Find a way to establish contact: the individual has done the work to contact you, now you must do the work to find out what he/she wants and generate the sale.
Anticipate Customer Complaints: Few people like to spend money, meaning potential consumers will consistently delay actually forking over the cash. So LISTEN to your consumer, COMPLIMENT their taste and ANTICIPATE their complaints. Don’t act desperate; be CONFIDENT about your abilities as a craftsman and clearly convey the value of your services. If necessary, offer incentives or discounts to seal the deal.
Be Enthusiastic! Enthusiasm is contagious. If you are excited about the possibility of starting a new, unique project, the feeling will transfer to the client. Stay upbeat even when the sale seems impossible and never underestimate the power of positive thinking. When a sale does not transact, always ask for feedback.
During the Custom Process:
Inclusion: Once the sale has been made, keep your client informed on how the process is going. Return calls promptly. Invite the client to take a look at the work-in-progress. This may be time-consuming for you, but making your client feel like an active participant in the custom process will increase the probability that they will commission work from you in the future, and tell their friends about your services.
Upselling: The client has already commissioned a project from you, so don’t be too pushy. But feel free to offer up ideas for improvement or further customization of the project at hand (different finishes, different styles, complimentary pieces etc.). Doug Turner calls it “…the classic ‘ Would you like fries with that?’ approach.” He recommends offering complimentary pieces to clients: “…A set of chairs for your client’s new handmade dining table. A coffee table to go with her two new end tables.” If the client seems interested, be clear about the increase in cost, while reminding them of the benefits of such an addition.
Installation: If it is an installation or delivery job, be sure to be present while the project becomes a part of your client’s home or office. A day or two after delivery/installation, call or drop-by to make sure everything has gone smoothly and the client is happy with his/her purchase.
Follow-Up: Send a follow-up email or call a month or so after the job and ask for testimonials, and possible referrals. If they don’t give these to you right away, be persistent. Most people are more than willing to give up this information, it is just a matter of getting a hold of them at the right time.
Keeping Clients in the Loop: Send updates about jobs you are working on, personalized cards, and/or check-up emails to see how the client and his/her family/pet/job/business is doing. The custom trade is all about the relationships you build with the people you work with. Maintaining these relationships is essential to building your reputation, expanding your word-of-mouth business, and accumulating more and more repeat customers.