Anyone in the sign business can be content with taking an order, producing the sign and carrying the money to the bank. Selling a better sign than what the customer thinks they need is the hard part. Not every customer will take your advice. Some think you’re trying to pull one over on them and sell them more than what they need.
It’s up to you to show them the difference, as in S.H.O.W.
Telling someone what a sign should look like is impossible. How many times have you had a potential customer
say, “I want a really nice sign for my new business….” You start thinking, “Wow, he’s looking for a carved, gold-leafed beauty with ornamental posts….”
Then reality hits you right between the eyes when they say, “Just something with a white background and maybe red or black letters. And here’s a sketch my kid’s done. Can you make something like this?”
So, everyone’s concept of a “really nice sign” is different. It can range from very simple to extravagant.
The fact is, you’re more likely to sell it if you S.H.O.W. it:
• Show what you do. Don’t wait for the customer to ask to see your top-of-the-line work.
• Help the customer see the difference in the advertising values of signs.
• Offer three- or four-tiered pricing. If they can’t afford or don’t need gold leaf, sell them vinyl.
• Wow the customer with your knowledge, creativity and concern for their success.
I can promise this will lead to selling better jobs, and to customers who are more than satisfied with the
advertising power their sign delivers. You can’t expect customers to ask for this—you have to show them what’s possible, then close the sale. Here are a few things that help do that:
Use samples. Show your potential customer what’s possible by using samples. Every shop should have a printed or online portfolio of previous work to give the potential customer an idea of your creative abilities. This helps them see that maybe their preconceived idea of a white board with black letters might not be the best use of their advertising dollars.
If you can, sketch something. Doodling a quick sketch (if you’re good with a pencil and paper) while you’re talking with them shows what you can create. This can help get them thinking in terms of an upgraded sign.
Get the deposit. Don’t let them walk away with the sketch. This is the main difference between a board with letters on it is and a custom advertising idea. If you don’t put a value on it, neither will they. Tell them if they like the idea, you’ll clean it up and show some color versions, then explain you need a deposit to further their sign project.
Offer a logo. This is the ideal time to sell the design as a logo. With a little sales effort you can turn it into art that can be used on all their marketing materials. Don’t give it away as part of the cost of the sign. Add the power of that “advertising value” into your price.
I know this approach works, because it’s worked for us. We’re a small sign shop doing business out in rural
western Tennessee. Our client base is stretched out over several counties, and there are many other small shops vying for a piece of the sign pie. In an area where word of mouth can make or break you, we must be accomplishing our goal, as we are still in business after four and a half decades.
—Larry Elliott, Elliott Design, McLemoresville, TN