Cat got your tongue when talking with difficult clients? A few weeks ago we outlined how to deal with tricky clients, but sometimes it can still be difficult to navigate a conversation to get the response you want. Luckily, the Kuotes has expert conversation tips and examples we use all the time to successfully communicate with clients. It may seem simple, but the way you phrase something can be the end-all and be-all of a client relationship.
1. Confidence is Critical
And doubt is dangerous. If your client even slightly detects that you’re uncertain about your design, they’re not going to be convinced that they like it. Once you make a design decision, stand behind it. Your determination will show your client that you truly believe you’re giving them what’s best.
EXAMPLES:“I definitely see where your suggestion is coming from, but I actually chose to do (your design decision) because (your reasoning), and I’m confident this will serve your space the best.”“I actually thought about that option too, but (your design decision) is actually better because (your reasoning).”
2. Remind Them Why They Hired You
Obviously we don’t mean you should walk around with your portfolio tucked in your underarm, but it’s okay to gently remind your client that you are the expert. The key is to do it subtly. The worst possible thing you could do is offend or insult your client. Make sure to use your experience and design knowledge in a way that builds trust with them instead.
EXAMPLES:“I totally see what you’re saying, but in my experience as a designer, when that’s been done, it doesn’t work because…”“I can show you what I did for (past client). This worked really well because of (your reasoning), and it will work great here too.”
3. “Inception” Them
Let’s pull out our notes from Psych 101. Sometimes, you just need to convince your client that your idea was actually their idea. Everybody wants a say in design, and everybody loves to win. You know this, so use it! Give your client a victory, and you’re golden.
EXAMPLES:“I understand this new idea, but I think your original design direction will turn out a lot nicer.”“I don’t think we should change that aspect of the design. It’ll take away from the look you wanted to achieve.”
4. Never Play Defense
The rapport between you and your client is the key to success, so never put that relationship in danger. If you feel a disagreement coming on, take a few quick breaths and consider some of the lines we’ve outlined for you below. As a general rule, agree with your client and then offer a similar alternative (refer to Tip #3). Pro Tip: Always, always have alternatives you like to present at client meetings.
EXAMPLES:“That’s a good idea. I actually thought of that too before I considered (your design decision). This way is actually better because (your reasoning).” You’re completely right. But if we use (your design decision), you’ll also get these additional benefits for your space…”
5. Be About Business
Both designers and clients frequently make the mistake of getting hung up on style. And don’t get us wrong. We are lovers of design, and design IS the most important part of a space. But if your client isn’t loving your proposal, explaining the business benefits can often win them over in your favor. Everybody loves to save time and money!
EXAMPLES:“From a business perspective, it actually makes more sense to go with (your design decision) because (your reasoning).”“That totally works with the design, but (your design decision) I chose is much more efficient and will look great at a much lesser cost.”
EXAMPLES:“That’s a good suggestion, but let me explain to you why I chose (your design decision) .”“Let me walk you through my design process, and then you’ll see why I chose to do (your design decision).”
7. Solutions, Not Problems
Whether we admit it or not, being a designer is in part being a critic. Too often you can end up focusing on why a client’s idea or suggestion won’t work. Instead, think positively and explain how your design will offer solutions.
EXAMPLES: “Your suggestion makes sense, but by doing (your design decision), you will actually be solving this (design problem).“I think you’ll find that (your design decision) will be more beneficial because it’ll solve these (design problems).