For creative people, the sales process can sometimes be overwhelming. We perhaps think of ourselves as ‘soft’ people more suited to the visual arts than the hard-nosed art of the deal. However, as in all facets of life, knowing our value and receiving our worth allows creativity to bloom.

At Decor + Design 2023, we’ll be holding a workshop on ‘Sales Alchemy for Designers’, hosted by Ben Lai, Founder of Sales Ethos. It will be tailored to the interior design industry, to help visitors turn soft leads into hard sales.

Ben Lai’s journey into the world of sales is an interesting one. Like many of us, he studied something entirely different at University, originally training as a neonatal nurse. “I liked the idea of caring for people for a living – especially tiny babies! In addition, the safety and security of the role made my parents happy.”

“However, my childhood dream has always been to be a platform speaker. The goal was to share ideas that would impact as many people as possible. I realised four years into nursing that the current path wasn’t going to fulfil that dream.”

“At this point, I was reading a lot about business. I soon realised that selling was a prerequisite skill for a speaking career. So, rather than relying on books, I decided to learn by doing. I applied for my first sales job, and the rest is history!”

Ben founded Sales Ethos over fifteen years ago and works with diverse companies, from Start-ups to larger corporations with a turnover of $80million+. We asked him to tell us a little about the company and how their process helps clients optimise their businesses.

Ben, can you tell us a little more about the values behind Sales Ethos?

The business is founded on three core principles. We are:

EThical – Everything we do is for the benefit of our clients. We abide by ethical and moral principles with integrity at our core.

HOlistic – Our methods take into account the whole person. We help our clients to develop their purpose and character, rather than relying on scripts and techniques.

Scientific – Rather than basing our courses on anecdotes or personality, we use evidence-based practices that have been proven effective.”

What kind of clients do you generally work with? Can you share a success story?

We have had the privilege of working with solopreneurs all the way to large corporations. It has been fascinating working with industries ranging from Allied Health, manufacturing, and everything in between!

However, our favourite clients are entrepreneurs who have little experience with selling. They are great at what they do, but lack the confidence to promote themselves to avoid the risk of being “pushy.”

One of our proudest successes was with Shane, a roof tradesman. He took meticulous care with his craft. This ensured that clients didn’t have any problems for many years after his work was completed, which was well above the industry standard.

In spite of Shane’s quality workmanship, he only charged half of market rates. While this was great for his clients, he struggled to pay himself a decent wage. In addition, with virtually no profit, Shane could not grow his business. He understandably felt stressed and burned out.

Ultimately, what held Shane back was his mindset around money, business, and sales. We helped him to see that all three areas were tools he could use for the benefit of his clients. This resulted in Shane being able to charge market rates with a clear conscience.

In addition, we provided him with sales skills and processes to improve his clients’ experience at the new price point. The combination of mindset and sales skills doubled his profit. Furthermore, Shane won more jobs than when he charged less!

Shane was absolutely stoked with the results, which enabled him to both provide for his family and to grow his business.

What are the biggest challenges creative people generally experience when it comes to closing sales?

From a sales perspective, creative people often experience challenges in three areas:

  1. Mindset: Everyone has had bad experiences with pushy salespeople. Because Creatives don’t want to be like them, they often swing to the opposite end and become too passive!
  2. Asking the right questions: Creatives often get excited and caught up with the design process. This means they don’t ask critical questions to discover what’s important to their clients. As a result, clients may not understand the value they are getting by working with the Creative.
  3. Articulating their value: Selling intangible products can be challenging! It requires communicating on the client’s level, and taking them through an emotional journey. Creatives often struggle to articulate why the client should work with them, and how they are different to competitors.

How will you help them overcome these challenges in your workshop at Decor + Design?

To overcome these hurdles, we will start with adjusting our mindset about money, business, and selling. In order to sell effectively, we have to fervently believe in the good we can achieve through these three mediums.

Next, we will uncover the step-by-step process of the client’s buying journey. It begins with asking questions to find out what clients care about, and why they care about it.

In the following segment, we will discover how to effectively communicate our value and points of difference. We will take into account the core criteria which clients use to decide who to work with.

Finally, we will cover handling concerns and asking for commitment. This is usually the scariest part of the process, but with proper preparation, it should be a natural conclusion!

Learn the secrets to Sales Alchemy for Design with Ben Lai, 10.30am – 12.30pm, Friday 14 July at Decor + Design 2023 at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Register now as a trade visitor to also book your workshop!