Better Choices, Better Outcomes

What value are you selling? Products? Services? Brand? Reliability?

In the last issue I spoke about how to calculate the cost per hour a business requires to recover all the costs in the business, before it makes a profit.

Another area which I believe the industry is undervaluing itself and leaving money on the table, is in sales and in particular; selling the value of the services it provides.

Too often we get stuck talking about the price of the product and overlook the real reason why people chose which business they deal with.  It’s because of trust and the feeling that their emotional needs will be taken care of, the risks will be managed during the project AND of course, products will be made and supplied.

Remember; “People do business with people, they know, like and trust”. Its useful to design your sales / design process to include steps that lead to conversations that build trust and then “re-play” elements of these in your proposals (try and not use the word “quote”) that lead to an emotional contract in the customers mind.

If I asked most business in this industry what they do, they jump straight to “making products”, such as kitchens, joinery, shopfitting, furniture etc.  It’s true for a small number of you, that you mainly “make stuff”, but most companies do much more than that.

Most of you work in, or own businesses that provide professional services such as design, project management, subcontractor management and other advice including interior colours, flooring, lighting and other interior design related services.  I’ve noticed that some companies start providing these services as part of their work without considering the value of this.  Sometimes spending hours adding extra value to the client, but not getting paid for it.

I recommend that you discuss this with your team and agree what is a “reasonable amount of time” to spend on sales for certain types of work.

For example;

  • How will you communicate to a homeowner what your process is? What services are included? And excluded?
  • How many steps and hours could there be in the design process?
  • How many visits or design hours will be included? and at what point will there be additional design or project management fees?
  • To what extent will you liaise, co-ordinate or manage other subcontractors on the clients behalf?
  • What is an appropriate fee or hourly rate for design and project management services?

Once you have agreement then start to include in conversations and proposals; the amount of design effort / project management hours you will be including to achieve the client’s goal.  Point our that what you are providing is a unique product designed for them, that fits and works in their space.  This takes considerable time, effort and skill, which you have built up over many years.

It takes several years to become a tradesperson and longer to become a master, the same applies to the design, project management and ability to problem solve and think on the fly.  Try and think of words to describe the way in which you will create the total solution for your client, including your sales / consultation process.  The way in which you “just take care of things”.

After all, if the client really does just want a low cost product, there are plenty of imported or cut-price options, but most people  don’t want that, they want someone, YOU,  to provide a locally made quality product, wrapped up in an experience with people they trust and they call on again and again.

Be brave, if some clients wont value what you do or offer, let them go and try DIY or a low cost operator, they will come back.

If you want to learn more, see one of my favourite sources of sales inspiration Brian Tracy;

Ian Featherstone is a business advisor and leadership coach, and the owner of Glass Half Full. He specialises in the construction industry, particularly the joinery & cabinetry sector. For more information please visit