How to Sell Your Designs

2017-03-14 | Communicate, Sell

The art of persuasion

I’m currently reading the book “Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini. It is a fascinating book, which I highly recommend you read.

Cialdini points out that there are 6 major weapons of influence. They are:

  1. Reciprocation
  2. Commitment and Consistency
  3. Social Proof
  4. Liking
  5. Authority
  6. Scarcity

All these are “weapons” that you use or will be using as you sell and persuade. I’m going to show how you might use the first two in selling a design agreement.

This will be a very abbreviated explanation, so I urge you to get the book and read it carefully. It will empower your selling abilities. Even I discovered a new framework for what I had been doing for years as I sold designs.


Reciprocity is an unwritten rule that obligates us to return a favor. It is amazingly powerful. Most people will return a favor, in some form or fashion, whether they want to or not. We are hardwired to reciprocate. Bring donuts to work, your coworkers feel they owe you. Buy a friend, or stranger a drink, they feel obligated to return the favor. Water your neighbors plants, and they feel an obligation to help you, even if what you ask them for is a much larger favor than what was extended to them.

Another part of the reciprocity rule is call concession. Although it is very one-sided, it still works. Concession works when an offer that you extend to a person is rejected. At this point you make a lesser offer. You’d think that this would have little effect on a person who has consciously rejected your first offer, but it does. The person that is offered the larger favor, now feels that you have made a concession to them, and that you are doing them a favor by offering them something for less. The subject, in this case, feels an obligation to reciprocate, even though nothing has been given to them. Thus, they accept the lesser offer, which may have been the intent of the “giver” in the first place. All of this is very subtle. Most people don’t even know it’s happening to them.

How can you use this in your sales?

Quite naturally. The normal sequence for selling is to give a rough price for the overall project. This is a necessary qualifying step. If they agree that they can pay for a project at the stated rough price, then you’ll pursue the lead. If not, you move on to the next potential client. Let’s say you ballpark the project at $100,000. They are hesitant, but don’t back out yet. Since your objective is always to sell the design first, your conversation starts shifting towards this goal. Here’s the concession. The next thing you do is to offer them a design for the project at $2,500. Subconsciously they are relieved. They don’t have to think about the huge amount of money they will have to pay for the project. $2,500 is a much lesser amount, and this will get them started – and invested. They feel that you have done them a favor and are actually indebted to you. Step 1 is accomplished.

Commitment and Consistency

The next rule is Commitment and Consistency. The best way to illustrate this is by telling you an abbreviated version of a story that Cialdini tells in this chapter. It is a story about a couple that fell in love, and started to live together. We’ll call her Mary and him, Beau-1. Beau-1 turns out to be a pretty heavy drinker and not a very nice person to live with. Eventually, Mary shows him the door, and seeks out another companion. She meets, falls in love with, and becomes engaged to Beau-2. A date is set for the wedding and announcements are mailed. Beau-1 finds out about this arrangement and returns to Mary, saying that he is rehabilitated and would like to move back in with her. Mary resists. Beau-1 raises the stakes by saying he will quit drinking and will marry her. This sounds pretty good to Mary and she accepts. The planned wedding is called off and invitees informed of the change in plans.

Time passes, and Beau-1 decides that stopping drinking is not really necessary, and starts drinking again. He also is reluctant to get married. In a short amount of time, things are exactly the way they were before. Except for one thing. The way Mary feels. She now is more devoted to Beau-1 than ever. Why is this, you may ask? It is because of Commitment and Consistency. She made a commitment to return to the relation. Once she crossed that line, in order to be consistent to herself, she insisted that she had made the right decision, no matter the outcome.

This consistency is extremely powerful. How could she not see that things were just as they were? Instead, she told herself that she had always loved Beau-1 more than Beau-2, and she had made the right decision. She had to stay consistent with her decision.

Selling the project

When I sell something, I make point of getting the prospective client invested in the sale. I strive to get them to invest, first their time, then their money. The more invested they become, the more likely that they will buy from me. They also reciprocate, because I give them my time and expertise too. This is one of the reasons I like to meet with prospective clients at my office, rather than their home. They have to invest a great deal more energy and time coming to my office, rather than me going to their home.

Just as Mary insisted, against all reason, that she made a good decision, and was going to stick it out, getting your prospective client to make a decision will make them more committed to buying your services. If you can, 1) get them out of their comfort zone and visit you at your office, and 2) agree to sign a Design Retainer Agreement, then they have crossed the line. They have to feel they made the right decision to hire you to design their project. To stay consistent with that decision, every thought from then on, will be that they must make this work out. They tell their friends and neighbors that they made the right decision. They become more and more accountable to stay the course and build the project.

Beware of the power of influence

As powerful as our minds are, we are sometimes persuaded to do things that don’t make much sense, or that don’t really serve us and our goals. This book will help you in a couple of ways. It will help you understand how to persuade others to buy your services, and it will make you more aware of influences that you should reject or avoid. Selling is a very emotional task. As you become a master of influence, you must also bear in mind the power you wield, and use that power in an ethical and moral manner.

Read Cialdini’s book

I hope that this brief look at two of the weapons of influence help you understand your prospective clients more, and gives you some ideas how you might improve your sales process. Get Cialdini’s book and read it several times. Take notes. Add your new thoughts and ideas to your present sales process.

If you’d like to learn more about remodeling processes and how to specifically sell to remodeling prospective clients, check out my Scientific Remodeling System eCourse – 12 simple sessions that will get you started on the road to success in one of the best industries in the world – Remodeling.

This article was written by Randall Soules, veteran remodeler, educator, and creator of the Scientific Remodeling System, showing you better ways to advance your business, raise your profits, and improve your life, through the use of superior remodeling processes. If you would like to discover better ways to run your business, click here.

You are free to reprint or copy this article to your blog, newsletter, staff, etc. as long as the article is shown in its entirety and has a live link to Please do not copy and paste this article on your site. ©2017

I do make a commission from sales made from this banner

BuilderTrend is consistently voted the best Project Management tool for Remodelers And it's free to try for the first 30 days!

Systems build successful businesses will take your business to the next level!