Most architects I know aren’t particularly good at self-promotion and would prefer to stick their hands into a hornet’s nest than learn about ‘sales’.
This is made infinitely worse by our misconceptions of what sales really is.
When I first started, I had the idea of the sleezy used car salesman and people of low moral character.
However, once I got into learning about this subject, I was very surprised to find out that those misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth.
The reality is that if you want to start getting your own projects then you are going to have to have some kind of sales process in place that takes someone who has never heard of you before all the way through to handing you their hard earned cash and availing of your services.
So the purpose of this article is to put a nail in the coffin of the misconception and uneasiness that architects feel about sales so you can get that monkey off your back and start making some proper money as an architect.
After you go through this article you'll know what to do during your initial consultations with a potential client.
Essentially sales is not about convincing or beating someone over the head to avail of your services.
Sales is entirely about understanding the potential client’s current situation and their desired future lifestyle and seeing if you can be the bridge between the 2 to get them from a to b.
And that’s it.
You’ll note that this is something that is naturally part of an architect’s arsenal.
So, you’re probably already 75% there to becoming a natural salesperson as you read this.
Am not kidding.
And what we’ll discuss here is how you should carry out an initial consultation or conversation with a potential client.
But there is psychology at work behind this process.
Let’s face it, going through the hassle of having a new house designed and built is a right pain in the ass.
Projects only go as well as the people that work on them and all it takes is one kink in that chain and the whole thing can often go to shit.
I’ve worked on jobs where the client hated the house after we were done.
You may or may not have a similar story to tell.
It’s stressful for everyone.
There are so many interdependent moving parts that is extremely difficult to have a project that runs smoothly.
And every potential client knows this too.
There’s a TV show here in the UK called Grand Designs.
I was actually interviewed for an episode many years ago as one of my projects was on it although I didn’t make the final cut of the program.
But pretty much every episode is a disaster story of some kind.
So be under no illusion:
Most potential clients aren’t looking forward to the whole drama that will be a major event in their lives.
But the point I’m trying to make here is that they must be either seriously pissed off with their current situation to want to go through the hassle of building a new house…
…or they must have a serious desire, a life’s ambition to have this super-duper spanking new home built that will change them & their family’s lives forever.
So, we need to understand both sides of this equation.
Let’s start with understanding the potential client’s current situation.
New homes are all about lifestyle change.
So, we need to understand someone’s current lifestyle.
We need to understand what frustrates them about their current lifestyle.
What frustrates them about their current home.
We need to know what they like about their current lifestyle or home.
Now here is the big secret top this and it took me a long time to get my head around this.
It is quite difficult to put yourself fully in someone else’s shoes.
And in trying to do so we tend to gravitate towards emotional or nonspecific terms to describe this other person’s situation.
A prime example of this is ‘dream home’.
If you had a group of a thousand people and asked them what ‘dream home’ means to them you would get back 1000 different answers.
When you are asking someone about their current lifestyle/situation you must get them to describe it in real world, concrete terms.
Not wishy-washy emotional terms.
It must be described in a way that if 1000 thousand people saw it, they would all agree it was the same thing.
Does this make sense?
We live and experience the world in reality so when you are quizzing a potential client on this side of the equation you must make it as real world and specific as possible.
As a note aside, when you are doing this with a potential client you should be asking the questions and then shutting up.
Let the potential client do all the talking.
Now when it comes to the desired situation or lifestyle, we just repeat the same process.
We ask the questions and shut up.
What does this new home represent for them?
How would this improve them & their family's lives?
What are the must-haves for the project?
Let them do all the talking and get them to describe everything in real world concrete terms.
You are now the bridge that joins these 2 paradigms together.
That’s your role as an architect.
So all you now need to do is connect the dots between Point A & Point B and tell them how you can help them make this journey possible.
It’s about taking what’s in someone’s head and making it a reality.
And that is what sales is really all about.
And that’s very exciting indeed.
Now if you would like to know how to attract potential clients online, know the steps to take them through to get them on an initial consultation and learn more about the process I just outlined then I’ve got just the thing for you.
My name is Declan Connolly, founder of Affluent Architect.
I’ve been designing homes since 2000.
I started my own practice in 2009.
And now I teach Architects from all over the world how to generate Custom Residential projects for their practices.
And after all that, I can safely say:
The ‘normal’ way of educating potential clients on the benefits of hiring an Architect…
...is NOT THE ANSWER to getting great clients & projects.
If that worked Architects wouldn’t find themselves in the constant battle of:
❌ Talking to people only interested in free advice…
❌ Writing proposals for people who only use them as a fee shopping exercise…
❌ Being underpaid & treated like a commodity…
These problems happen because Architects haven’t been taught something crucial:
How to articulate the value of their services in a way that impacts their clients on an EMOTIONAL level.
Instead, they try to ‘logically’ educate potential clients on:
❌ Reasons to hire an Architect…
❌ Project process…
❌ How they deliver their services, etc…
But high-quality clients don’t care about these things.
In fact, they view these things as OBSTACLES to them getting their new home.
It’s like when someone books a flight for a holiday.
They don’t care about the number of rivets in the plane & the stitching in the seats.
All they care about is enjoying their holiday at the end destination.
Similarly, all that matters to the potential client is the new home.
Along with all the lovely lifestyle benefits it will give them.
All the ‘logical’ based approach does is position Architects as a ‘set of plans to get the permit’.
So, here’s how we fix this.
My Architects attract creative residential projects with clients that pay top dollar for great design.
And the key to this is my proprietary A.V.I.D. Method (Articulate Value & Influence Design Method)...
…which creates marketing messages that emotionally connect with their potential clients.
This A.V.I.D. Method has been developed by trial & error in the real world since 2009.
And it’s the only method specific to the single-family residential market for Architects on the planet.
It’s enabled me & my Architect students to:
✅ Work with celebrity clients on their new home like Mark Owen from the pop band Take That...
✅ Work on jobs that have been featured on the TV Show Grand Designs…
✅ Work on homes worth as much as $18.75 million…
And the secret to this is something I learned when I was struggling to get decent projects for my practice.
I had hit a brick wall and decided to study how past Architects managed to do it.
And who better than Sir Norman Foster himself.
He got started in the high-tech industrial market.
Which is a super-competitive market against far bigger and more established firms.
Sir Norman Foster didn’t go and try and ‘logically’ educate potential clients.
Instead, he described what his target clients’ businesses would be like AFTER they built one of these buildings.
And once I applied this same principle to Custom Residential it completely changed the game for me.
Describing a potential client’s life AFTER they have built their new home is what gets their attention.
✅ It instantly creates trust & respect because we are describing what they really want...
✅ It creates an air of 'exclusivity' & ‘uniqueness’ around our services which clients pay more for...
✅ Defines who our target clients should be & where to find them…
However, it must be done in a certain sequence.
And that’s exactly what I’m going to show you on a special Case Study recording.
Where I show you how the A.V.I.D. Method works.
As well as how it creates my students’ marketing for them which saves a bunch of time.
This Case Study also shows you loads of examples of our students' marketing that is working like crazy in the Custom Resi market:
So, if you're sick and tired of being treated like a commodity...
And you want to finally work with appreciative clients who value what you do…
…get paid the fees that you deserve & have a great income for a change…
…and work on fulfilling creative jobs without sacrificing time with your family…
Then let’s get the A.V.I.D. Method working for your practice.