How Do I Ask For The Business?
Mpowered Podcast, Episode 28 Show Notes
Welcome to Mpowered, the podcast brought to you by Material Bank and created by ThinkLab.
In this bite-sized episode, we tackle the question, “How do I Ask for Business?” One of the toughest things about calling on A&D is bridging that gap to asking for the business without alienating them, offending them, or becoming that rep. Host Amanda Schneider, Founder and President of ThinkLab, takes you through the top 3 best practices you can be doing
to secure new business.
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If you have a question or topic you’d like us to tackle on air, we’d love to hear from you. Simply direct-message Material Bank on Instagram with your success story or question through the messaging function.
Amanda Schneider: Welcome to Mpowered, the podcast brought to you by Material Bank and created by ThinkLab. Consider this your new weekly dose of bite-sized, actionable insights to help you succeed as a B2B rep. I’m this week’s host, Amanda Schneider, founder and president at ThinkLab. We’ll be answering one key question each week, many of them submitted by you. Want to join in? We’ll share details about how to submit your question at the end of this episode.
This week’s question: Best practices: How do I ask for business?
Now, when I was a rep, I used to say to my non-industry friends, “My job is literally to sell stuff to people who aren’t buying anything.” It’s a strange concept to those who come from outside the industry.
But the recommendation power of designers is profound, and they have the trust of their clients. In fact, ThinkLab research suggests that the average designer has 26 times the specification power as the average American consumer has buying power. And when you get to the
Interior Design Giants of Design, that number can be up to 111 times.
Just like you, designers are actually selling every day. They’re selling the concepts and products that they’ve selected — and the value of those selections — to their clients. Great reps in the design industry excel at building relationships with these creative designers, but where many get stuck is turning those relationships into business.
Now, the title of this episode is “Best Practices: How Do I Ask For Business?” The short answer is: You don’t. Not exactly. One of the toughest things about calling on A&D is bridging that gap to asking for business without alienating them, offending them, or becoming that rep. Here are a few ideas and some ways to get the information you need while remaining someone designers look forward to seeing walk in that door:
- Give to get. Don’t let the ask be the first thing out of your mouth every time you see them. I know this can be counterintuitive, but if every time you see them, you’re saying, “Hey, what are you working on? How can I help?” You’re going to seem more desperate than fun, and they won’t be excited to see you.
- Establish yourself as a good businessperson. Find subtle ways to connect with them over more than just cocktails. Are you aware of insights or information that would help them get their job done? Share an article. We hear from designers in our research all the time that the best reps are dot connectors — whether that’s connecting them with another piece of information, or even another product if yours won’t work. This will make you their first call.
- Ask a ton of questions, and get them talking. Let them bring up their projects. I often ask things like, “Are you busy right now?” That usually leads to leads.
This question methodology is good, but you must lead with empathy in your questioning. Remember that your product line is one of hundreds that go into a project. Put yourself in their shoes by asking, “What’s the biggest drain on your time right now?” Or “If your rep could do one thing to make your life easier, what would that be?”
We hear that the best reps are lifeboats and “help save me from myself,” in the words of one designer. Overall, be sure you make your client feel like you’re interested in them and not just the business. I recently heard someone say, “I’m still paying my dues.” She was right on that you do have to get to know them first.
Of course, just don’t let that phase carry on too long. Remember, you’re offering to make their lives easier. Working with a great rep will save them a ton of headaches, so know your stuff and go in with confidence.
I want to take a moment to thank you for listening in and invite you to listen in each week for more tips and tidbits to empower you as a rep. If you have a question or topic you’d like us to tackle on air, we’d love to hear from you. Simply drop us a note with your success story or question through the messaging function on Instagram or by leaving a comment on LinkedIn.
Special thanks to Material Bank for partnering with us to provide bite-size, valuable insights for B2B reps in the interior design industry.