How to pitch your designs to clients
Reading time: 6 - 7 minutes
The best kind of sales pitch is an effective, well balanced, and thought out design; one that serves its primary purpose but also grabs peoples attention. It becomes phenomenal when your client is excited to see it in action and have brought into your vision. That being said, this is where you can also potentially face a bit of a brick wall as a designer. This is where we can fail - some designers fail to associate selling with designing. For those of you that fall into this category that is because somehow you are executing the sales pitch wrong. Don't worry though as the team at BLACK LABEL UK have put together a few tips to help push you and your business or career further.
As designers', we come across an extreme variety of clients; those who are a god-sent - friendly, supportive, pay on time, hand over everything we might need to know and let us (as the experts) take the reins. Vs those who are a lot more specific; have a vision in their mind but not the abilities to execute it themselves or those who prefer to keep the freedom of the project at bay.
Regardless of the type of client's we work with on each project, the bottom line always remains the same - Ideas do not sell themselves. To combat this potential downfall, it is essential to adapt the sales strategy to suit the customer. These skills should make up part of every designers' "soft skillsets."
So, without further ado, let's look at some of the pointers we can offer...
Communication is key
Just like with most things in life, excellent communication is the key to success. It's our number one rule of any sales pitch - where the magic happens. It is essential to always start with a string of conversations, and the trick is to never let that thread go cold.
During the stat of any project, it should be your main priority to gather as much information about the client as possible. This helps you in the future to identify your client's specific needs- what really matters to your client.
One of our tricks to get the conversation flowing is to ask questions about the city they operate in, what the weather may be like, or their interests. You will be amazed what can come out of these simple conversations; things that you can discover about your client's design preferences!
This is what tends to happen when you get talking:
- A friendly conversation starts to establish rapport with your client, and once they begin to trust you, the restrictions that may have put into place begin to disperse; allowing further creative freedom over the project.
- You begin to gain a clearer picture of what your client would prefer in their designs.
- As you further establish your relationship with your client, it will make the pitching process more comfortable; they will tend to listen and respond in a more positive light to your ideas.
- Once they feel comfortable working with you, you'll find that most of your pitching process is complete. 80% of your clients will start taking you and your designs more seriously, and this can lead to a series of future projects that they might line up for you.
Research and you will gain credibility
We can all appreciate that making a decision can be a challenge (choosing what you want for dinner can be a pain). It not as simple as an equation with a definite answer; there is always room for error to be introduced. This is why you need to have an answer for everything that you do because we all know, there is going to be questions...
The unwritten rules of design (which we shall refer to the designers' code - like the pirates' code but for design) dictates that logical reasoning should be applied to every UI/UX move you make. There has to be a reason behind: the layout, typography used, the colour pallet that's chosen. The list goes on! This makes backing your ideas up with robust statistics essential. It's true what they say, a little bit of research goes a long way.
We strongly advise that you understand your designs inside out - you need to have a full understanding of the solutions you are about to present. In doing so, you will dramatically reduce the chance of misinterpreting your own work throughout the process. By presenting factual statistical data alongside your work, you can allow the data to talk for itself. A client will rarely argue against statistical information.
Sometimes the statistics can fall a little short though; this is where utilising big players within their sector as mini case studies can be extremely beneficial. If parts of your solution align with those of large corporations such as Tesla, then they should definitely become part of your pitch.
The main takeaway here though is your clients are going to have a ton of questions. It's your job to ensure you have all of the information and answers ready to make this process as smooth as possible.
Being one of the best designers' out there is all about being one of the smartest. One thing you can guarantee in the world is that nothing is ever constant; well apart from change. When it comes to change design is the one thing that pulls it all together - design is the first step in the process.
So the next time you begin designing something, make sure research is your first step. Be aware of future trends in the sector and find out which ones are the ones that will stick. This way, you can incorporate these trends into your designs, creating something future-focused around your clients' requirements.
To think outside of the box is a skill set every great design before us and after us should hold. It's a smart but acquired taste and can make all of the difference when it comes to designing a world-renowned piece of work.
Regardless of this, do keep in mind that's it's essential to consider the risk as well. Make sure your design is a well-thought-out and researched one. You definitely want to be avoiding unpredictable risk!
If you look at the basic overall hierarchy of designers' you will find two main categories that we all fall into. The trendsetters and the trend followers; you want to make yourself a trendsetter.
It's all in the presentation
It's all good creating an award-winning, breath-taking, trendsetting design but without an excellent presentation its never going to lift off the ground. In order to sell your designs, you will need more than just a few sketches and words. Develop a pitch deck that communicates your ideas in a way that will catch the imagination of your client. Ensure they understand the bigger picture making sure you put everything into context. Use a mixture of mockups, design samples and always go the extra mile when presenting your ideas. It helps your client to visualise the final design, and the closer your prototypes are to the real-life thing, the closer you will become to sealing that deal!
All feedback is positive feedback.
You've been hired to solve a problem at the end of the day. A problem your client fully understands and one that you should also have a decent understanding of. It's imperative to keep an open mind. Listen to your clients' feedback and try to take it all on-board. Your client might not have the same level of design know-how as you do, but they know exactly what they are looking for even if they are unable to communicate this fully. The best way to accept feedback is to pitch your ideas in such a way without getting too defensive; listen to what they have to say and consider ways in which you may be able to get their feedback to work within the design.
Even if deep down you know their amendments would end up resulting in a weaker finished design never respond with something like "I don't think this change is required." Instead, respond with something like "While the changes you have requested are more than do-able, it could be worth having a look over the submitted drafts again".
The best tip we can give you is to always remember you and your clients' are playing for the same team. They are on your side, you are on theirs - stop taking feedback as a challenge!
So with design, there are two main things to keep in mind:
- It's always better to show your clients' your vision rather than to tell - a picture paints a thousand words.
- Less is always more.
You may cringe at the thought of selling, it is totally normal. You need to believe in yourself and your expert eye for detail and think to yourself - what is the worst that could happen. Things don't seem so bad now do they?
Some of the most essential soft skills you need include: presenting your ideas professionally, articulating the design, and "closing the deal".
Remember to get in touch with our friendly team should you wish to find out more or have any questions and drop your thoughts into the comments section below.