The most uncomfortable feeling EVER is when you’re sitting in a room with your client and there’s dead silence. Or you’re getting the signals that they aren’t happy – the body language is wrong, their arms are crossed, and they don’t look like they’re having fun. Whoa. What happened?! Looks like the client isn’t thrilled with your design presentation and now one of the most exciting points of the design process has fallen flat. How do you recover? And how could you have avoided this in the first place!?? I’m glad you asked!
How Did You Start?
Let’s go back a bit – how did you get your ideas and inspiration from the client? The best way to avoid a presentation that falls flat is to gather every single scrap of information you can from the very beginning! I have in-depth client questionnaires that never fail! I use them ALL the time in my business – and it’s part of my Return on Interiors system. Each questionnaire (there are 15!) asks a lot of questions about how the client lives in the home, what his or her preferences are, and what they need in their interiors. People really do love to be asked about themselves and what they need – they sometimes just need the right questions to spark their honest answers. I also ask them to create pinboards that show me things they love, and to put captions on the pins so I really get what they like about each photo.
Did You Listen?
So you gathered a ton of information on the client and each member of the household – but then what did you do with it? Did you get wrapped up in what YOU wanted to do, instead of what they really wanted? It happens – we can see gorgeous finished rooms even when we’re walking through a construction site. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to shake off our amazing vision to keep in mind what the client actually asked for! And we can really fool ourselves into thinking that we can talk the client into trying out that white sofa, even when she specifically said she wanted upholstery that could take on her 5 dogs and 4 kids! Spend the time to listen to what the client wants!
Did You “Reflect”?
One of the best tricks of the trade during a presentation is a selling technique – you “reflect” the client’s wishes back to them. What I mean by that is that you show you really paid attention to what they told you about their lives and needs. So you might say: “You told me that you loved your great-aunt’s pale blue china, so I used it as inspiration for the dining room’s wall color!” You’re weaving their own personal stories into the home! And you’re giving them their own words right back to them. Not only are you showing that you listened, you’re helping them fall in love with your design! Win-Win!
How Can You Recover?
What if you’ve done all that and you STILL hear crickets at the presentation? This is when you need to spin into recovery! Point out where and how you did listen to them, and then ask for feedback. Don’t try to argue with them about what they say – that will only make it worse! Be sure you record what they say they like and don’t like about your design. It may be that they’re hung on one thing or one room and it isn’t as bad as you think. But even if it is as bad as you fear, tell them you’ve got it and you’ll give them a new presentation ASAP!
Go back to the drawing board. Project a lot of confidence so they’ll feel like you’re going to be able to make it all work. Once they’ve left, really review every single thing they said and go back over the questionnaires and pinboards to see where things went wrong. You CAN recover from this! It’s all a matter of being sure you communicate really well with your client at this point.
To make that even easier for you, download my FREE Client Communication Log here! It will help you have as many conversations as you need to, so you can get the best information on what your client needs. And don’t forget that you can get my FULL client questionnaires, quick reference guides, remodel cost worksheets and more in my full Return on Interiors system.
PS. You can learn more about ROI here!