For most clients, the design of an app, website, or even a physical product is as important as its functionality and quality. Design affects the brand’s image and market perception. With design being so critical, clients can be demanding and particular. In today’s article, you’ll learn the best methods and recommendations to negotiate your design ideas with skeptical clients.

Negotiate Your Design Ideas with Skeptical Clients

How to Negotiate Your Design Ideas with Skeptical Clients

However, not all clients understand the real impact of design on their business. Of those who do understand the importance, they may not straight away grasp your design concepts. Here are seven tips on how to negotiate your design ideas when facing down doubting clients.

Prepare to Negotiate With Skeptical Clients

Too many designers rush to pitch their ideas without proper planning. The designer often feels they will be able to answer all questions on the fly and need no special preparations. However, the sales pitch rarely passes without questioning. Not only will the client have questions, but they may also have ideas of their own.

Often, clients will not see why you think your approach solves their problem. In comparison, the client’s predefined idea may seem so much better to them. Clients may show skepticism on whether your concept offers any advantages.

Be ready to walk your clients through your reasoning. Explain why your idea meets the client’s specific needs. Be ready to counter common clients demands if their ideas don’t fit in with your concept. Come to the meeting ready for follow-up negotiations after your first pitch.

Ask and Listen

Active listening is one of the top skills taught in the best negotiation classes. When you listen, you are doing more than showing respect to the client and their input. By listening, you can gain extra insights into the client’s desires and fears.

When your client talks about themselves or their ideas, their body releases dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that causes us to feel happy. We engage with others differently and are far more likely to buy when we’re happy. So, make your clients buy your services by listening to them talking about their ideas.

Asking relevant questions shows you are paying close attention. Guided questioning shows your design ideas are well thought out, with the client’s goals in mind. For example, ask about the client’s color preferences and how the color palette fits with the client’s corporate colors.

As you ask and listen, repeat back what your client says to confirm you have understood their point of view. Affirmations prepare you to align your design ideas with the client’s needs.

Be Confident with Skeptical Clients

How you express yourself can either persuade or dissuade your client. Be confident in your skills and your design. Project a strong belief in the value you offer. Negotiation classes can prepare you to confidently express the value you deserve, especially when under pressure. Rehearsing your pitch or presentation builds both confidence and competence.

Avoid showing your insecurities to the client. Focus on building your confidence without coming off as arrogant or aggressive. Clients buy based on their emotions, and then backward rationalize their decision afterward. Since your emotions are contagious, embody the emotions you wish for your client to share with you.

Write Down Key Points

When your client is concerned about or outright objects to your design ideas, make sure to take notes.  Be sure to also note down what you both agree on. Highlighting where you do agree allows you to regain a collaborative footing with your client. When a client can see where your ideas align, they can feel more confident about ideas they may at first be skeptical about.

Writing down objections and agreements also makes it easier to keep track of the conversation. You can use your written notes to improve your design or fortify your ideas. If there will be follow-up negotiations, a written summary acts as a reminder of where you left off. The written points work to confirm agreements.

Expect to Compromise

Quite often, designers are unwavering about changing their design ideas. Design professionals sometimes defend their ideas to the last pixel, even when the client wants to negotiate changes. They mainly defend their ideas because they already put much thought and effort into every aspect before presenting the design idea to the client. Allowing clients to make too many changes also risks the project going beyond the initial scope and budget.

However, implementing one or two of your skeptical clients ideas can work to persuade a skeptic. Avoid making too many concessions that will cost you, or which you think may compromise your service. Frequent or too many changes can increase doubt on the value of your ideas rather than sway a skeptic. Granting too many changes may come across as a lack of forethought on your part.

Also, for every concession that costs you in time or money, try to trade something of equal value from your client. By attending a negotiation class, you learn how to exchange value for equal value. For instance, if the change requires much more effort and time, ensure you negotiate for extra pay.

Reduce Client Risks

It’s essential to show your clients you’re working in their best interests. Make your client believe in your good faith by reducing client risks. With negotiation class training, you learn to cut client risks by:

  • Being transparent in how you came up with the design idea.
  • Offering limited-time support after selling the design.
  • Providing enforceable guarantees.
  • Showing that you understand the client’s business goals.
  • Being responsive to client communication and concerns.
  • Being accessible.

Present Many Ideas to Negotiate with Skeptical Clients

Often, designers make the mistake of presenting only one idea. Usually, this limits the client to only two options: to say “yes” or “no.” Showing alternative designs increases the client’s choices. It’s in your interest to have your client choose between your competing ideas, rather than choosing your competition.

Offering many design ideas may lead to brainstorming with your client. Instead of a straight “no,” the client can pick the design they like best. The client can even tell you what they like in one concept and what they like in another. Brainstorming sessions like these can lead to a hybrid design that your skeptical client may be more amenable to.


Share This Post