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About this class
Introduction to the selling specifics of framing, indicating the client and their demands. Sharing personal experiences about the first considerations in sales and customer service.
Most of our customers buy custom framing only occasionally, and we often are faced with buyers who have never ordered custom framing before. Custom framing customers who are unfamiliar with the process of designing and constructing the framing may come up with several kinds of objections – or comments that seem like objections, and we need to deal with them successfully.
COMMON CLIENT OBJECTIONS
Some customer objections are quite common, such as “You offer too many choices!” When a consumer first sees the dozens – or perhaps hundreds – of moulding samples on the walls and stacks of matboard colors on the design table, and the wide variety of framing examples displayed in the gallery, this objection is understandable. After all, most customers intend to buy custom framing for just one particular item. That one frame is their focus, and the vast array of choices can be overwhelming.
Of course, experienced framing designers are quick to assure their overwhelmed customers that this is, indeed, custom work, and our job is to provide the guidance necessary to make the best choices for every project. All of those moulding profiles and mat colors and designs may be appropriate for one project or another, but we can narrow down the selection to suit every purpose.
“You don’t have any samples that I really like.” This objection may seem like the opposite of the “too many choices” objection, but maybe not. Usually, the customer making this objection is having difficulty seeing how the components go together to create a pleasing design. So, the framing designer should help the customer visualize how the finished project would look, by showing pertinent examples of finished framing.
“I can’t tell the differences between some of these colors.” A lot of people have some form of color-blindness, even if they don’t realize it, and in our industry that’s a problem. Statistically, about 8 percent of men and ½ of 1% of women with Northern European ancestry have the common form of red-green color-blindness. Depending on the extent and nature of the customer’s color-blindness, maybe the framing designer can help to narrow down the colors to compliment the artwork. Or, a customer who anticipates difficulty in matching colors might bring in in color samples, such as a swatch of wall covering or drapery fabric. If not, and if the color-blindness hampers the framing design process, then perhaps it would be best to suggest that the customer come back another time with color samples to match, or bring a friend or family member to help with the color choices.
“The noise in here is distracting.” A customer who looks forward to a calm, cerebral experience in framing design may be upset to realize that framing shops involve noisy activity and equipment in the back room. If there’s a door from the gallery to the shop area that’s open, then it should be closed. Or, if there’s no way to create a sound barrier, the framing designer should ask the shop staff to avoid using the noisy equipment while this particular customer is in the gallery. It’s a small accommodation, but it might please the customer immensely.
These are just some of the possible objections that we hear from custom framing customers. But in every case, the framing designer’s purpose should be to answer the objection satisfactorily; to clear it out of the way and get on with creation of the best framing design for this particular item and for this particular customer. The framer’s positive response is essential to making the design conversation succeed.
“YOUR PRICE IS TOO HIGH” OBJECTION
The most popular objection that we hear from custom framing customers is “Your price is too high!”, because everyone knows that custom framing is expensive, right? Sometimes this objection is automatic and the customer might respond to any price the same way. Often, this objection is intended to encourage the framer to negotiate a special discount or a bargain price. We’ll talk more about this objection in a few minutes.
IDENTIFYING THE REAL OBJECTION
Generally, customer’s objections represent rejection of something – the design, the designer, or perhaps the price. It’s important for the framing designer to understand that customers often voice an objection that doesn’t accurately describe the issue. For example, “You offer too many choices!”, clearly is a plea for help in narrowing down the selection, but the customer might hesitate to say, “I don’t know how to do this. Help me!”. In the same way, “You don’t have any samples that I really like.”, might signal difficulty in making choices confidently, but the customer might think admitting that could reveal a personal weakness. Of course it isn’t true, but some people think that way.
If the customer just isn’t ready to place the custom framing order confidently, the classic price objection might come out as, “I don’t want to spend that much.”. The first reaction of the framer could be to look for ways to cut the price, but that might not help if the real objection remains unspoken. It’s possible that the framer suggested a design that’s less than perfect, but the customer would rather reject the design on the basis of price, than to offend the designer’s recommendation. To the customer, this may seem like a more graceful way to say no.
In situations like these, the framing designer might be able to rescue the order by providing reassurance, and plenty of guidance to keep the design conversation going in a positive direction. Since objections are so often misleading, even with the best of intentions, here are a few suggestions:
Stay positive – Always respond positively to a customers’ objection, and never argue about it.
Adjust perceptions – Customers may not understand what the framing conversation is all about. For example, if the objection is too many choices, make clear recommendations and explain the features and benefits of each component of the design. Make it easy for the customer to make informed decisions.
Don’t make excuses – Avoid being defensive, or responding in a way that could be perceived as excusing or belittling the objection. Rather, try to address the customer’s reason for voicing that objection.
Ask for details – When a customer voices a vague or general objection, it might help to say “Can you be more specific?” Open a discussion about exactly what is wrong.
Don’t negotiate – If a customer asks, “Would you accept €20 less for this framing design?”, my answer would be “I’m sorry, but we can’t do that. Our prices represent very good value, but if the price is too high, let’s review and revise the design.”
HOW TO EMPHASIZE VALUE AND REDUCE COSTS
When a customer says the price is too high, or “I don’t want to spend that much”, review the framing design, piece-by-piece. Especially, help the customer understand the benefit of each framing feature that’s recommended. This way, the customer can either accept or reject each component of the design, and consider alternative choices. In many cases, customers end up buying the design and the price they originally objected to, after they understand the value of what they are buying.
In any case, I suggest not reducing the price arbitrarily. That is, every part of the framing design has a predetermined price that is non-negotiable. So, the only way to reduce the price would be to select less-expensive components.
Custom framing is a person-to-person business, especially in the design process. The framing design choices often involve emotional decisions for customers, as well as factual reasoning, and successful framers learn how to deal with the entire process, including objections, positively.
It is reasonable for customers to voice objections, and framers who handle them well succeed more often. Professional handling of objections can result in framing designs that are most satisfactory to customers and most suitable for their purposes. Dealing with objections successfully helps to build stronger customer relationships, too.
James Miller is not only framer but educator on a global scale. Miller specialise in preservation framing, which means that both technique and materials are in huge importance.
Also being an author of two successful books on professional framing, Miller is one of the most acknowledged framing specialist around the world. Now he has teamed up with GroGlass to provide an online course to invite framers aim for excellence.
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