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Don’t Sell a Design. Sell a Lifestyle.

When people shop for interior design services, they often think they’re looking for just that: Interior design. Period.

They have a vision for how they want their rooms to look, and they know they need help to that bring that vision to life. They know It takes skill, insider knowledge, and hours of research, measuring and logistics to find all the pieces that bring a space together.

But savvy interior design CEOs take it one step further than offering to handle the physical design (which offers plenty of value in and of itself).

They go a little deeper to understand WHY the client wants the design. Understanding those motivations is the key to actually getting clients what they really want — and to attract more and better clients to your interior design business.

Your clients might not really know it, but the design they are seeking is just a means to an end. The thing that clients are actually looking for when they invest in interior design is a lifestyle.

Here’s why, and how, you should position your services to deliver that lifestyle to your clients.

Understand That Homes Reflect Personal Values

What is it that drives people to purchase something expensive for themselves? The factors fall along a wide spectrum, of course, and they can vary a lot from one type of buyer to the next.

However, people who want interior design are almost always motivated by a desire to express a part of their identity. While they are seeking the tangible of a beautiful space, the silver lining is they desire to be surrounded by what they love and elements that bring them feelings of joy, well-being, and good energy.

The right “look” at home will clarify what their personal style is and what their priorities are.

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Of course, your potential clients may just think they want a farmhouse-inspired kitchen because they saw some on Pinterest and fell in love with the idea. But their real motivations have nothing to do with Pinterest.

For example, maybe they want their lives and their homes to reflect a sense of simplicity and connection to the environment, or a sense of down-to-earth values. Maybe they’ve just gotten the sense that a farmhouse vibe is the trend now, and they want their home to feel fresh and up-to-date.

Regardless, once you’ve identified those deeper motivations, you’ll have a much better idea of how to present and deliver a design they’ll love.

Create a “Window to the Future”

To show potential clients how a design will deliver the lifestyle they want, creating what I call a “window to the future” for that lifestyle, you have to do a few things.

First of all, you have to get a clear idea of their dreams and values by spending some time with them in a casual meet-and-greet where your entire goal is to get to know them personally. In these meetings, you get a feel not just for their design tastes, such as what colors and finishes they prefer, but for who they are as people. (Related post: Here’s Why You Should NOT Charge for Your First Client Meeting)

You can learn a lot about someone from spending time in their house. You’ll get clues into where they like to go on vacation, what their family is like, what they’re most proud of, and what they value in a neighborhood setting, just with your observational skills.

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But, of course, you can also ask them plenty of questions about their style and values. One good way to start is asking what impression would they want new guests or friends to come away with after they visit your home for the first time. Try to limit it to 3-5 words to understand what their priorities are. It can help to connect the impression to emotions. For example, do they want new guests to feel impressed? Cozy? Inspired?

Then, ask questions that get to the bottom of not just what they use their space for now, but what they would like to use it for in an ideal world.

For example,

  • How much time do they spend watching TV? Do they want the TV to play a central role, or do they want to discourage its use compared to where it is now?
  • What do they do when they want to relax at night? Where would they like to sit? Do they grab a book or a glass of wine?
  • Are there any activities they’d like to do more of that their current space limits, such as having dinner parties, meditating or playtime with the kids or grandkids?
  • Are their other hobbies, such as crafting or cooking, that they have dreamed of devoting more time to that a new space could facilitate?

The more specific you can get with these goals, the easier it will be to help your clients visualize how their new space will enable the lifestyle they have always wanted.

How to Sell a Lifestyle

Providing a personalized design is a great first step to showing clients that you understand what they really want. (And by the way, this level of detail and connection is impossible to get using only one of the ubiquitous style quizzes available on online design sites these days.)

However, you should also emphasize to clients during the sales process that investing in bringing this design to reality is way more than aesthetics.

Aesthetics are important, but on a deeper level, you’re helping people become more comfortable in the place that they spend the most time. You’re also creating a space that enables them to do the things that they want to be doing, whether it’s playing more board games with their family in the evenings (encouraged by a beautiful new coffee table with a social seating arrangement), or encouraging reading more often (encouraged by your thoughtful choice of the perfect chair, task lamp and bookshelf for them).

Plus, when people are comfortable and feel like they’re “themselves” at home, it can have a positive snowball effect on the rest of their lives.

When you love where you live, you are likely to find it easier to relax. When you’re proud of how your home feels, you feel more confident and more positive.

All of these things can improve all other aspects of your life. And, these benefits will last for years and years, giving advantages that few other purchases can deliver. That’s important for you to remember as a business owner, because oftentimes the competitors you have to worry about the most aren’t other designers, are but other competing financial priorities.

[bctt tweet=”Interior design delivers benefits that will improve clients’ lives for years.”]

If you’re ready to upgrade your sales process to sell a lifestyle instead of simply design services, I hope you contact me directly. I specialize in helping interior designers hone their business and sales skills so that they can hit their goals. I help designers one-on-one and in small mastermind groups.

What to read next:

The Plan for Domination: Beating Your Interior Design Competitors

Do These Things and Clients Won’t Give Competitors a Second Look

Want to Land Interior Design Clients? Appeal to Their Emotions

dont sell a design sell a lifestyle via interior design master class

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