March '23

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M M A R C H 2 0 2 3 • G R A P H I C S P R O 8 3 15' minimum for a wall or free-stand- ing sign to evaluate finish, fit, and other quality measurements. You are the expert; you must educate your client on what to expect. Tell them upfront that if they want a monument sign that must pass all physical inspections from a foot away, it will cost 3-4 times the industry standard. Can one be built like that? Sure, just like a flawless diamond and just as rare and expensive. One of the greatest lessons I learned in selling expensive diamonds (the ring mounting always comes last) was the eas- iest way to close. When we found THE ONE diamond that was clearly the favorite and made pupils dilate, I would quote the standard price. It was usually more than their budget upper range. But one or both clearly wanted THE ONE. Learning how to read your customer's body language is critical. Eye contact will tell you how engaged they are. It is prob- ably one of the most powerful nonverbal clues. Body posture will reveal how com- fortable they are. I never started a sales interview, demonstration, unveiling of artwork or proposal until I knew the cli- ent was comfortable. Facial expressions will let you know how they feel, so play close attention. Dynamic hand gestures will let you know if they trust you. And don't forget to mirror body language to build rapport; it is a powerful tool and makes they feel relaxed and at ease. I also learned a jewelry closing tech- nique that I use now for custom signs 40 years later. I discounted the stone and offered a percentage off predicated on one favor from the customer. "I will sell this for you today only (call to action) for "X" if you will do me one simple favor," I said very earnestly. "Sure! What do we need to do?" they asked as they leaned forward. "Can you send me three customers? We build our business on referrals, and I know you will love this so much you will gladly tell your friends, coworkers, and family." I smiled. And it worked more than 80% of the time. Do you currently close 80% of your custom sign sales? If you are above 50% you are in the minority. If not, try this close. Even if they only send you one refer- ral, did it more than compensate for any discount you offered? And you'd be sur- prised that some people send many more than three. And some or all may become customers for life. Don't forget to do this with each referral. e synergy of this is staggering. And the call to action makes it easier for the client to do business now instead of thinking about it and putting you off. So once the diamond was selected, we'd start the process all over with the setting and wedding band. And then the other's band or ring. It was like finding the right shoes for the perfect outfit. After adding in a great setting plus the loose diamond (THE ONE) it was uncanny that the aver- age increase over the highest possible bud- get was another 20%. How did I resolve that, so it was pal- atable to the customer? I broke the extra amount down into small pieces over the lifetime of ownership. Example: if the couple was 25 years old and you conser- vatively took them to 70 years of age (or life expectancy), that is 45 years of own- ership. If you take $4,000 extra dollars over their budget and divide it over that period, it cost them $88.89 per year or $7.41 per month or roughly $.25 per day. "Isn't your soulmate worth a quarter per day to have a one-of-a-kind unique piece of jewelry that shows your love?" In fact, it doesn't cost you a quarter at all. Because the data shows that the price of a diamond has increased by a minimum of 4% every year. It pays to know your product. Cost of ownership works with signs the same way. Learn how to break the invest- ment into bite-sized chunks over a conser- vative life expectancy of seven years for an electronic message display, ten years for a wall sign, and twelve years for a pylon sign. Or pick your own depending on what part of the world you live since cli- mate, days of sun, environmental issues, nearby irrigation, and other factors vary. Get creative but realistic. In retrospect, I wish I'd had known the saying "Don't Settle for Good and Leave Great on the Table" as a close in the jew- elry business those many years ago. But it opens a fresh perspective now that I'm in the sign industry. Would you want the love of your life to go around and show off their new engagement ring to their friends and family and say with a frown, "Look at my new ring. I settled for good." Of course not. You would want them to say, "Look at my new ring! Isn't it great! I got exactly what I wanted!" is is how you create raving fans. And you can do this in your sign busi- ness because the principles are the same. My wife (and business partner and best friend) Nita has mentioned more than once over the years that some of the spe- cial signs we designed and produced were like jewelry. I never connected that to my old career until my friend David made a random connection possible with a great phrase. So, don't forget to educate, be great at reading your audience, glorify your wow factor, break down life of ownership, and ask for referrals. You'll have more busi- ness than you can handle. Now, let's go out and sell some jewelry. GP

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