10 Tips for Selling Architectural Services
Find Out How to Sell Yourself to Potential Clients
Selling any service to clients is no easy task. You have to walk a fine line between talking yourself up and fulfilling your client’s needs. If the client feels like you’re forcing your service on them, they may feel more inclined to walk away from what you have to offer.
Selling architectural services presents even more challenges. You have to understand how to sell architectural design if you’re to have any success. A good portfolio isn’t always enough to secure the job. After all, every firm worth its salt has a good portfolio to stack against yours.
You need to do more in selling your architectural practice to potential clients. If you don’t stand out from the crowd, you’re likely to get left behind.
Some of the selling tips that you read about for other industries could benefit your firm. Others are more specific to the architectural industry. This article will pull 10 of the best tips together, so you can create a selling strategy that will help you finding architectural projects.
Tip #1 – Practice Your Sales Pitch
A well-articulated sales pitch strikes a chord with the listener and gets their attention. If you spend too much time rambling around your point, you will find that the client loses interest. If the client’s mind starts wandering, you’re going to find it much more difficult to make a sale.
This means you need to practice your sales pitch. Start by planning out how you think an ideal sales conversation should go. This plan should involve identifying the client’s needs, so you can focus your sales pitch around that. Your aim is to keep things conversational, without straying too far from the point of the conversation. Get to know the client, but don’t slip into time-wasting chatter.
Once you have a pitch written down, you need to practice it. Rope a friend or relative into this process. Sit down with somebody and deliver your pitch. Engage in the sorts of conversations you may have with clients, then ask for feedback. Sales don’t come naturally to everybody. You may have to practice and refine your technique until you get to the point where you’re confident in delivering your message.
Tip #2 – Know Your Contacts List
Most architectural firms will have a list of contacts. Some of these are current clients, while a large number of them will be prospective clients. You may be at various stages of the relationship-building process with these prospective clients.
You need to figure out how to cultivate your contacts at the various points of your sales funnel. For example, you will need to spend some time getting to know brand new contacts. Find out what they need, and create a sales pitch that shows you can deliver. However, clients that are further along in your funnel don’t need to hear you selling your architectural services again and again. They’ll often need more specific answers to their questions, which involves going beyond your initial pitch.
Keep a list of all of your contacts, alongside a record of where you stand with them. A good customer relationship management (CRM) software package could help with this. By knowing your contacts, you can ensure that every conversation you have has a point.
Tip #3 – Be Helpful
Many people view salespeople negatively before they have even taken the time to speak to them. There’s a general reputation surrounding the profession that suggests a client will have to deal with pushiness. That’s something you need to avoid when selling architectural services. You will usually lose a client as soon as you start pushing something they don’t want on them.
Pressure should not be part of your sales strategy. Instead, you should focus on being as helpful as possible when selling architectural services. Figure out what the client wants, and make it a point to meet those needs.
Ask questions, rather than talking constantly about your firm. Yes, your client needs to know who you are. However, they also need to communicate their needs to you. If you don’t ask questions, you create a one-sided conversation that will put most potential clients off. Some recommend the 80/20 rule. This means you allow the client to speak for 80% of the time, while using your 20% to ask questions or provide answers to the client.
Tip #4 – Don’t be Needy
Trying to sell your services when you’re new to the sector can be tough. Getting your first architecture client is a watershed moment for your firm, but you may find that your efforts to secure that first contract turn potential clients off.
Some salespeople sound too needy when they’re pitching to clients. Instead of offering genuine solutions, they try to entice clients with discounted services. Yes, most clients will want to spend as little as possible. However, dropping your prices too far below the industry standards shows the client that you’re desperate for the work. This will start the client’s gear turning. They’ll start wondering why you don’t have any other work, and why you’re so desperate to land this job.
You may really need the job. However, you can’t let your client know that. Successful people want to be around other successful people. If you come off as needy, you demonstrate your lack of success. Remember that you’re selling architectural services that the client should want. Allow your work to speak for itself, even if you’ve struggled to attract business recently.
Tip #5 – Use LinkedIn
The days, when using your portfolio just a glossy book of fancy models was adequate are long gone. Today, architects need to do much more to convince potential clients that they’re worth working with. The advent of social media allows clients to instantly research your firm and figure out how you’re selling architectural services online.
Every social network is important, but LinkedIn is the one that should receive most of your attention. It’s the ideal tool for making new contacts and keeping up to date with existing clients. However, your LinkedIn profile may say more about you than you realise.
For example, an incomplete profile shows that you aren’t willing to put the time into building yourself up on the site. A client may take this as a reflection of the amount of work you’d put into any projects they give you. You also need to build your reputation. Post articles and start conversations with industry influencers. LinkedIn offers untold scope for making connections, so use that to your advantage to build exposure. When people know who you are, selling architectural services becomes much easier.
Tip #6 – Don’t Think You’ll Close on the First Meeting
Your first meeting with a client is very important. How you approach that first meeting will define the rest of the relationship. Selling architectural services becomes impossible if that first meeting doesn’t go according to plan.
The key is to not aim to close a sale at the first time of asking. Some people view not making the sale straight away as a failure. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Your focus at this point of the relationship is to engage the client. You’re looking for a positive reaction to something that you have offered because that creates a foundation that you can build on in later conversations.
Selling architectural services involves building trust and relationships with your clients. This is especially important for new companies that don’t have the reputation required to sell themselves. The first conversation is also the first step. It is not usually the place to discuss the end goal. Keep that in mind and encourage the client to take the next step with you, rather than trying to get them to commit to your services there and then.
Tip #7 – Use Email Marketing
Email marketing can be a useful tool, when used correctly. Using email, you can stay in touch with existing clients, so you can alert them to new offers. Email campaigns will also put you in front of the eyes of prospective clients, which can help you to build your firm.
Unfortunately, email marketing has developed a bad reputation in some quarters. It’s understandable. After all, many businesses use email marketing as a way to spam people with constant offers and irrelevant communication. This is something you need to avoid when selling architectural services via email.
The earlier point about avoiding pushiness is important here as well. Your emails need to offer value to the reader, rather than trying to push a product they don’t need on them. Constant attempts to sell your services will annoy people, which leads to them ignoring your emails. As a result, you need to think about how to make your emails worth reading. For example, you could create a newsletter that informs the customer about your work, without trying to sell directly. This raises interest, which can lead to more communication that may result in a sale down the road.
Tip #8 – Play the Numbers Game
Even though you should focus on the specific needs of prospective clients, you also have to realise that selling architectural services is a numbers game. You will get knocked back often. It’s natural, especially when you consider how much competition you have.
Refusals are part of selling. You can’t let them affect your strategy. If you do, you’ll find your confidence decreases, which only leads to more refusals.
As such, you need to play the numbers game by appealing to as many people as possible. Keep trying to start conversations, even if many of the people you talk to don’t want to listen. This doesn’t mean you should keep bombarding uninterested people with messages. Instead, it means that you should move onto the next client if somebody refuses to speak to you. There are always more clients out there, but you won’t reach any of them if you don’t keep trying.
Tip #9 – Write Good Blog Posts
Almost every website has a blog these days. The quality of these blogs vary from company to company. Some fill their blogs with irrelevant information, just so they can say they have content on their websites. Others put real thought into what they write.
You want to fall into the latter category. A good blog post has a purpose and can demonstrate your authority within the sector. People want to read blogs with fresh content, but they also want that content to be of use to them.
Think about the interactions you take part in when selling architectural services. What types of questions keep getting asked? You can use these questions as the basis of your blog posts. By using your blog to answer some of your clients’ most common questions, you inform your readers. This makes it easier to sell when you engage in actual conversations with them because they already know about your level of expertise.
Tip #10 – Always Follow Up
What happens once you’ve established contact with a potential client? Do you have a system in place to manage the follow up?
If you don’t, you need one. The follow up is just as important as that first conversation. It’s where you show your client that you actually care enough about them to keep the conversation going, which builds the trust needed in selling architectural services.
If a client asks to speak to you later, make sure that do exactly that. Don’t rely on your memory. Make notes or use a CRM to keep track of what your prospective clients want from you, so you always follow up when you need to.
So much more goes into selling architectural services than you may realise. It’s all about establishing relationships and showing potential clients that you have what they need. You need to put all of these tips into action to improve your chances of success. Practice is essential, as selling is a learnable skill.
Of course, your portfolio is your starting point. Without good models to show off, most of the above may not matter. That’s where ArchiStar Academy can help. We offer courses in a range of digital design software packages, and also sales and business development. Work with us to improve your skills, and you’ll find that selling architectural services becomes much easier.
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Posted on 10 Dec 2018