Guest post by Milena Gallo

Apart from the needed artistic skills, most designers need sales skills to make the best money off of their work. Clients may occasionally bargain on contract terms and pricing. If you keep rolling over to please them, you’ll likely end up bankrupt.

Mastering the art of negotiation may be the one thing separating you from true success as a freelance designer or solopreneur. How do you successfully sell your work and receive the value you know that you deserve?

Be the Design Expert

Skeptical clients may or may not know exactly what they want in a design or how a particular design can benefit them. It’s imperative that you be the well trained design expert who knows what value the design work brings.

Come to the client sales pitch or negotiation prepared with presentations and data which show the value your designs bring. As the design expert, it is your job to determine what the client needs and to come up with a detailed plan of how you’re going to satisfy these needs. A negotiation trainer will help refine your sales techniques to close more sales.

Design Professional

Listen More Than You Talk

Excessive talking may be construed as a sign of anxiety, discomfort, and lack of confidence. Generally, talking too much suggests neediness, and a trained buyer can identify and exploit that neediness to your disadvantage. So if you’re a chatty extrovert, you may need to train yourself to ask more questions and pause to listen for longer.

Open enrollment New York sales negotiation courses equip you to listen more than you talk. What your client says will determine their needs, specifications, and any unusual requests. Take notes to accurately assess client needs and to later remind yourself of what was asked for.

Read back the notes that you wrote to confirm and clarify the client’s needs and instructions. Reading back aloud shows a skeptical client that you’re paying attention and are genuinely interested in creating solutions for their needs.

Probe with Strategic Questions

As your client defines their problems and what they need, ask probing questions. Intelligent and strategic questions can guide the client into revealing more details and paint a more accurate picture of their needs. If you’re accustomed to shooting from the hip, then train yourself to write your questions down before your client conversations.

Your client’s responses will better enable you to define a scope of work and create a reasonable offer or counteroffer during sales negotiations. Often, asking questions not only prepares you to handle the project but also creates a bond with the client.

Explain Your Recommendations

It’s common for designers to think they can explain their concepts using a few illustrations. Unfortunately, most non-creatives may not have the ability to quickly grasp artistic concepts. When selling your design ideas to clients, put every detail into the larger context. Be ready to explain each idea, suggestion, and recommendation.

Use design mockup templates to engage your client. Templates can act as a simulation, providing a sketch of what the final product will look like. The ideal is to make your ideas irresistible to everyone at the negotiation table.

Design Pro

Show Evidence

Many times, influencing decision making in design is difficult because there are often no measurable factors to bring into consideration. Many believe that design is largely an art, which can make your credibility the best way to sell your services.

Gain professional credibility by showing your past client references and testimonials. If you don’t have sufficient positive client reviews, you can still use scientific explanations to back up your decisions. For instance:

  • Why is your color palette choice the best for the client’s firm?
  • Why did you pick this font?
  • What makes that type of layout more attractive to the target audience?
  • What message does a certain shape you used convey to the observer?

A well-reasoned display of knowledge helps you to earn respect, and your client will likely value your work more as a result.

Don’t Cut Back Deliverables

Generally, creative services, like those of designers, require a special type of trained expertise. When negotiating sales, you may face the temptation to cut back on deliverables to meet a skeptical client’s budget. Avoid cutting back on deliverables when this can dilute your brand or market perception.

As an expert in your field, you have created an exact plan which should provide the best solution for your client’s needs. When you cut back on deliverables, you convey the message that you endorse your clients choices. If your solution is proven to not work, then you as the expert will likely be blamed, and the client will have forgotten that they pressed you to compromise on your standards or service.

By compromising, you could also be communicating to the client that a leaner solution existed, but you quoted extra to justify an inflated price. Whichever way, cutting back often introduces suspicion and devalues your professional judgment.


To successfully negotiate your design ideas with skeptical clients, you need to establish yourself as the expert. Enroll in sales seminars to attract and close more design contracts. Probe with strategic questions to determine their needs, then come up with a design plan to meet their needs.

As the expert, be careful about allowing your client to persuade you that  they’re knowledgeable about how to interpret their business needs into design concepts. Explain the details of your design ideas and put each detail into context. Show evidence of why you’ve made your design choices. Avoid cutting back on deliverables when possible as it undermines your judgment while devaluing your service.  


About the author: An expert marketing advisor, Milena Gallo brings many years of branding and digital marketing experience to whatever team she is on. She brews up fresh content on a daily basis, cleverly crafting messaging that helps online businesses reach new audiences. Strategically-minded, Milena diligently moves growing businesses towards their marketing goals. When she isn’t online, Milena pursues her passion for the environment, spending time in nature, planting gardens, and supporting conservation and reforestation projects.