KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Aug 15 2012

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The magic of giving less to get more

When you give once, the client always asks for more…

There’s a little known secret in business that people don’t often talk about. I suspect it’s because when it happens, people think it’s an anomaly, rather than the great secret that it is. What is it?

Before I tell you what it is, let me share a scenario that might sound familiar in your business. You have a prospective client who asks for something different from what you normally do. It could be changes to your contract or payment terms; giving them design ideas before hiring you; or the biggie—discounts to your normal fees.

Now you, the professional who wants to provide a superior service experience to your clients, reluctantly agrees to their request. Then something funny happens. They ask for something else. Maybe you agree again, even more reluctantly, thinking that you just need to do this last thing and then they’ll sign.

Except it doesn’t happen. Or they do sign but they turn into this monster client who bears no resemblance to the sweet person you met in your initial meeting.

Why? Because you didn’t establish boundaries from the beginning. Just like personal relationships, if you’re not firm about what you will and won’t accept from the beginning, your client will take advantage of you.

One of my clients experienced a similar situation but handled it differently and accidentally discovered this little-known secret. She was having one of those days where she just wasn’t going to take any “you-know-what” from people and when her prospective client asked her if she could discount her fees, my client simply said “No.”

Guess what happened? Her client said OK and hired her.

My client discovered that when she is firm about her “deal-breakers,” her clients sense her confidence and professionalism, and respect her more. They test the boundaries, and when they accept them, they become great clients.

Your clients look to you to be the expert, to lead the way; it’s not the other way around.  If you don’t, they lose respect for you. When you lead with confidence, your clients will stop pushing you to do things you don’t want to do, and they’ll end up happier because of it.

To learn more, register for a complimentary three-part series, “Three Secrets to Closing Higher Paying Clients Who Love Working With You,” at http://www.interiordesignersgethired.com/welcome/

—Maria Bayer, the Authentic Sales Coach for Design Success University, shows interior designers how to take charge of their clients and make more money without being “sales-y.”

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 15th, 2012 at 10:32 AM and is filed under Business, Inspiration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1.  Rod |

    Excellent article… I once heard that “profits in business come from repeat customers”, so its critical to establish this initial relationship, but never cut your costs and sell yourself short. If they are a good customer and want the quality product or service you are offering, then good customers will *always* pay your price (what your products or services are really worth). Thanks 🙂

  2.  Gail Doby |

    Thank you for the comment, Rod. I have heard that it costs between 4 – 10 times as much to get a new client as to get business from an existing one, so it is important to focus on that part of our business.