1. Selling the way you buy. Don’t assume the person in front of you buys like you do. This is the exception to the rule, “Treat others the way you would want to be treated.” Understand what is important to them. A designer once shared this story with me: When she would buy shoes, she would need to look at all the shoes even if she came back and bought the first shoe she liked; therefore, she would present all the cabinet options to the client when she designed a kitchen. The client, on the other hand, might prefer seeing just three selections picked based on their preference and not get overwhelmed and stall the project with too many options. Ask the client how they have purchased in the past to start the discovery process.
2. Selling the features and benefits without understanding the need. What happens when you go to buy a car with your spouse and they start to sell you on the horsepower and towing capacity? But what your spouse wants is a car with a third row for the new baby? You become disconnected and are not sure how those features relate to what you want. Understand the need before you pitch the features and benefits. Focus why they are looking to remodel their house: why now? Not the what (yet).
3. Designing or pricing a job without understanding the real reasons the client is doing the project. If you are not tying the direction of the project to fulfilling that, you are almost guaranteed to miss the target. In other words, everything has a certain value to people, and not all of the phases or options are equal. You must understand what the client values.
4. Projecting your beliefs vs. understanding the clients. Quite simply, don’t assume that something is important to them because it would be to you. Don’t fill in the blanks with your own understanding. Ask them so you can help them get better clarity of what they are asking and why they are asking the question.
5. Feeling like you need to have all the answers. Stop and ask for clarification. I would much rather work with someone who told me, “I don’t know. Can I follow up with you with that answer?” than tell me something I find out later isn’t 100 percent accurate. I would lose my trust in them.
6. Sell without a process. If you are successful and you don’t know why, it will be impossible to duplicate the process. If you don’t know what makes you successful, try team-selling and after the appointment debrief the call with another successful salesperson. Become aware of what makes you successful.
7. Not being aware of how you are showing up. Non-verbal communication makes up a large part of our conversation, yet most people focus on what they are going to say and ignore the non-verbal part of the conversation. Understanding your tone and body language and how they affect the people around you. Perhaps, you might have heard, “It isn’t what you say, it is how you say it.” I sometimes will hear that we have ruled out someone because we didn’t feel comfortable with him or her. Be aware of your energy, tone, and speed of what you are speaking, as well as body language, and appearance.
8. Creating the vision before knowing all the targets. Budget, timeline, and the client’s wants and needs all have to be considered before presenting solutions. If you start presenting solutions for the client and showing pictures of project that will cost them 100k, and then you find out later they only have a budget of 50k for this project—yet you created a 100k vision for them—it is almost impossible to go back.
9. Waiting until after the agreement to discuss expectations. You can discuss anything before the agreement is signed, but once you sign an agreement to move ahead, all their assumptions become their expectations. That is what they are expecting from the agreement. Be crystal clear on expectations, what is and is not included in the contract, and allowances. Create a list of learned lessons on previous projects and incorporate them in a checklist to review with all clients prior to signing a contract. You will prevent a lot of headaches for both your client and you. For example, what is your change order process? What your warranty process?
10. Not having trust of the client and thinking you can have a real conversation about expectations. We refer to Patrick Lencioni’s book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” when working with employees at work all the time. It also relates to working with clients, as they are part of the team. They must trust you in order to have the crucial conversations and share their feelings, so you can get a commitment moving forward with accountability, and ultimately results. A major deal killer is false harmony—when you are talking and they are nodding their head, and you walk out and they tell their spouse what they were really thinking. You need to have their trust in order for them the share their true feelings with you so you can address their concerns. PR