The Secret of Design Services Sales

One way or another I’ve been selling electronic and software product design services for 25 years. Over that time I’ve watched how other people do it, and I’ve tried to learn from my mistakes – so I’ve had a lot of opportunity for learning. From time to time I find myself wondering about the process. Where do the customers come from? How should we go about finding new customers? What’s it all about?

Right product, right time, right place….

The salesperson's crystal ball
The salesperson’s crystal ball

To make the sale you must have what the customer wants, at a price that makes business sense and you must be in the customer’s mind at just the right time. None of these parameters is easy to define. Services are intangible, and the customer often doesn’t have a clear idea of the real needs. With these uncertainties, price, cost and value are all difficult to tie down. But for me, the biggest challenge is to find the right customer and then to talk to them at the right time.

Finding those customers

New customers might come as a result of:

  • Cold calling/email messaging
  • Web site
  • Exhibiting at trade shows
  • Presenting at conferences
  • Reputation
  • Word of mouth

These are all vastly more effective if there is a clear focus in the offering. This can take the form of:

  • Technical speciality
  • Market sector speciality
  • Leverage of intellectual property or product offering
  • Projecting the company as a domain expert and thought leader


The sales funnel
The Sales Funnel

The effective deployment of the right combination of these will define and differentiate the company, and make it far more likely that customers will call in when they have a requirement – in my experience the conversion rate on this sort of enquiry is very high. Sales remains a numbers game – we need to put the numbers into the top of the sales funnel to get the sales out of the bottom. But well-applied focus changes the odds, effectively injecting the leads further down the funnel.

Of course, all of this is called marketing.

The big reveal

Marketing - the secret weapon of sales
Marketing – the secret weapon of sales

The secret of design services sales?  There is no secret, and it’s not about sales. Get the marketing fundamentals right and the rest will follow.