Sign & Digital Graphics

December '17

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28 • December 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S RUNNING THE BUSINESS the company. People typically like to talk about their accomplishments, so be ready to compliment them, or their talents with utmost sincerity. One very important test of trust I like to establish the most trust and openness that I can, and then I ask them the $64,000 questions: "So, have you always been in charge of the signage for the company?" And they will say yes or no. Either way, you ask the customer if the company was pleased with their last monument sign that you know they had installed on another property they own just down the street. (You discovered this when you researched the company.) If they liked the sign, liked the other company and liked the salesperson, that's when you drop the nuclear bomb ques- tion: "Well, if you were pleased with the last sign company, then why am I here?" I like to believe that this question makes huge progress in the customers trust level of you. By asking that question you pres- ent a question that forces them to reveal their hole card; it forces them to be real, upfront and honest. If they ignore the question, or answer in vague terms, it's a clear sign that they do not trust you, and probably never will. At this point, you are truly better off to excuse yourself politely and leave. Consider the wasted time, gas and hassle in jumping through a bunch of design revision hoops while the cus- tomer uses your drawings and estimate to double check that their favorite sign company is being honest with them on their pricing. Without an upfront design agreement, you are dead in the water, so it's better to leave than to waste any more time there with a customer who doesn't trust you. Focus your time on other accounts so you can find one where the trust factor is possible. And when building trust doesn't work Sometimes the person in charge of the project simply will not friendly-up. They are tight and buttoned up and would never give out personal or cor- porate details or information. For these folks, believe it or not, the trust might be there, they just don't show it. Don't let that slow you down; ask for the deposit anyway, at least four times or more if nec- essary. Don't forget, this is a closing step and once they sign the upfront design agreement and pay you a deposit, you are half way to making the sale. How to ask for an upfront design deposit and agreement This is where your disposition will make the difference. I like to say it in a very casual way, as if it is just a normal part of the sales process. If you do it right, they will say, "Ok," and sign the agree- ment and cut you a check. That's in a perfect world. What sometimes happens is you get a little kickback on the deposit. This is where I usually say some form of the following: "We are the professionals in our industry (which means you will show them what an effective monument sign looks like). As sign professionals, our reputation, our skillset and our attention to detail is what sets us apart from our competition. If a sign company is giving you free designs, keep in mind that noth- ing is free, and the costs of those designs are buried into the sign cost. Our design work is proprietary and beyond the tradi- tional sign drawing-on-a-page. Our phi- losophy is one of transparency, trust and professionalism. There is always a cost to every aspect of business, so we believe that collecting a design deposit allows us to put 110 percent of our designer's energy into your project. This is how it's done at large companies such as ad agen- cies, architects, landscape companies and other small companies. So, would you like to use a check or a credit card?" Keep on asking and asking until you almost cross that line of being a pest. You may need to refresh the trust factor in order to get a signature. Don't be afraid of going back to the beginning of the introduction to rebuild your trust factor. Mention how you empathize with their work challenges of finding the best sign company and account executive. This is easy because you should already know what they do for their company (because you asked earlier). I like to use an analogy that utilizes a frustration they have about their position in the com- pany. I do this to make my point about the design deposit and why it's necessary. You might say to them: "It's similar to what you go through in your position here at the company when (blah blah blah) occurs. As much as you would like to give that (whatever) away to your cus- tomer, you can't. You and your company understand the cost to the company and you justify why your (whatever) cannot be given away." Right? So, our company has evolved over the years to be one of (your city or town's) premier professional sign companies. So here is the design agreement for you to approve, and all I need is a check or CC authorization. 100 percent of your deposit is applied toward the price of the sign you will purchase from us." The key to this is to ask for the deposit without one bit of hesitation. I mean it should roll off your tongue like you are asking for a burger and fries—it's no big deal. Practice this in the mirror 20 minutes before every appointment and make sure you come across as smooth and confi- dent. Just ask, and keep asking as the conversation allows, until they give you an emphatic "no" or the client signs the agreement and gives you a check. In the end, the more you incorporate this into your company's sales process, the higher the closing rates will be, and the more money will be generated to assist with the designer's paycheck. Everyone has a slightly different take on this, but regardless of technique, the trust factor controls your appointment. It's what makes all the difference in your closing rate. SDG We believe that collecting a design deposit allows us to put 110 percent of our designer's energy into your project.

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