Results Driven = Value Added

By Drue Lawlor, FASID
Director of Coaching, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University

As designers we sometimes forget that we are first and foremost problem solvers.  Whether the problems are aesthetic, structural, or deal with getting the most value for their investment, we offer solutions.  This is a tremendous value that often does not get “sold” enough.  After all, if they did not need help they would have tried to do it themselves – or maybe they DID try and that’s why they’ve landed on your doorstep!  As Alan Weiss, author of Value Based Fees, states “A ‘value-based fee’ is a fee that is based on your contribution to the results the client achieves.”   The key is to keep your focus on the results that the client is after.  Let’s address 3 ways to “sell” your value.

First, you need to spend enough time at the front end at the initial appointment to discover the reason behind their design plans.  When you clearly identify the “why” behind what they are asking you to create and focus on the emotional connection they have with that “why”, then suddenly the monetary investment they will be making is not their main concern.  You need to help them clearly paint the vision and don’t let them lose sight of that throughout the process.  Add in the solutions you can offer to make the best use of their investment and address those monetary issues before they arise.  If you have identified their emotional connection to this project and are results-focused.  You are providing a service and as stated in an article on value added services, “When things are reduced to a commodity, we lose sight that all service providers aren’t equal.”

Second, you need to have “posture”.  You have to have the courage and belief system to support the extraordinary value that you can offer the client.  If you are focused solely on the worry that they won’t want to pay that much, you become a “commodity” and can easily be “shopped”.  When you instead tap into their emotions and emphasize how you will help them best use their investment to reach the results they envision, you can keep the focus results oriented.

And third, you can establish value with the client in the questions you ask.  For example, what will be the difference in their lives at the completion of this project?  What lasting memories do you envision creating after completion of this project?  How will the completion of this project affect their friends and/or family members?  What do they envision the project will mean to them 5 or 10 years from now?  These are just a few questions you might ask and you can adapt them according to the clients, but the idea is to get them dreaming and connecting with them emotionally as to the importance of a successful result.

So spend the time to educate your client up front as to the worth of the project and the short and long-term effects brought about by hiring your team.

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