A Designer's Diary #2: how to overcome client objections

Running a design studio always comes with some client objections that you have to address. Those objections is something that keeps you one step away from signing that big budget contract for a new project. Usually, it is the most crucial step in that engagement. But being questioned is something normal. It happens when you are just getting started, or you don’t have enough resources to deliver or the client does not trust you yet. It is a part of the sales process.

From my own experience, you always have to tap into why people ask these questions. Most often it is because they did not work with someone like you before or have doubts about the value you can bring. Or maybe they may not see the process of how it works. Your job as a professional is to fill in those gaps with proper answers. Why? Because it will help establish trust. Trust is a key factor in any type of sales. We always buy from people we know & trust and not from strangers.

But even after you did everything that is in your hands, you still get client objections. So a right answer to one of them will help you to rise above the competition. Here are the most important client objections I had to overcome and what to answer:


How are you any different from other design agencies?

Often, potential clients ask this question because you failed to establish yourself as an expert. So the client doesn’t see your value. But if you want to dodge it, you could answer this way: “We are different. We help businesses grow & be more innovative by helping them understand their customers. We help them talk to their customers in a genuine and relatable way. We will give you our best shot at attracting and keeping your customers. If you don’t need help in this way, save your money. Hire the other guys. We will be here when you call in 6 months with disappointing results.” It may come as cocky, but it is more about being honest and confident in your skills that you can deliver.


You are not the expert on this subject matter

The experts are the least risky option. They’re very good at doing what they do. In fact, they’ve done it for everyone else, including your competitors. If you want similar work, dictated by a cookie cutter process, we are not for you.


You don’t have enough resources

Mario Testino is one of the top fashion photographers working today. He often shoots with a disposable camera. Does it make sense to hire someone for their results but then dictate the process?


You don’t have enough experience

This one is tricky. Here you will have to show more of confidence skills. And you can say: “ Let’s be honest. We’re good at researching and fast learners, but you will forget more than we can learn. You’re the expert. The process we use helps to transfer your organizational knowledge to us. This way we can translate that into something your customers understand and value.”


You are too expensive

Sometimes this means that the client never worked with someone who delivered bad and cheap work. But I always love answer to this objection with this: “We are expensive. But there’s a good reason. Graphic designers are good at making beautiful things. I know. I used to be one. They are pretty makers. They’ll design a nice looking logo, print it on fine paper stock — even use a foil stamp. But they won’t move the needle. They won’t help you get one new client. Also, I have a feeling you did not work with cheap ass designers before. Hiring someone cheap always increases your risk factor. And the logic behind is that you want a lower risk factor by hiring a more expensive person.”


You are too expensive, and we found someone cheaper

When the client says that they found someone cheaper you should always ask this: “Did you ask the more affordable company if this also includes the risk management of a project? What if a project goes wrong, will they charge more? Does the price cover up all the risk that may occur during the project? We asked a higher rate because it reflects our services, the ROI you will get. It also allows us to fix mistakes in case they appear during the project. This way we will build trust and loyalty with you. Profit increases service quality. There is also no change of order in our projects. It means you can request changes as many as you wish and you will not get charged extra. And we all know that no design project did not have at least a couple of critical change of orders.”


Can you offer a guarantee that it will work?

Quick answer is no. Nobody can. But let’s suppose you are willing to give a guarantee. And let’s say the project is about building an ecommerce store from scratch for a well establish brand. The CEO expects an increase in sales of $10million for next year. You asked a price of $1mil for the entire project. But then you are being asked: “Can you offer a guarantee that we will gain $10 million in sales by redesigning our store?” Ideally nobody will ask this question, because nobody can guarantee 100% freaking results. But in case you are asked, the best way to go about it is triple your rates. Why? In this case you have less risk on your side. You can dedicate $1million for hiring the best experts in the industry that will deliver those results, and the rest is security money. In case it does not work out, well, then you are screwed.


Can I trust you?

It comes less as a spoken objection and more as one on a subconscious level. You should realise that no transaction on this planet happens without trust. When you “Buy with 1 click” from Amazon, or sign a contract for 1 million, it all happens because you trust the end company. It may come as an indirect objection, but your job as a professional is to establish that trust.

Quick tips on how to do it:

  • Social proof — showing work you have done for others and what results it brought them.
  • Authority — winning awards, writing books, essays, having a famous thought blog;
  • Tell as many details about yourself as possible. They should feel like they know you for a long time. Like a distant friend;
  • It may come as a surprise, but don’t forget to smile from time to time;

If you enjoyed the article, don’t forget to leave a clap so it can get discovered by more people. For more interesting stuff, make sure to check my podcast. A place where I talk with designers, entrepreneurs and creative people about design and the business side of it.

Eugen Esanu