How To Demonstrate Value In The Design Services You Offer
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

How To Demonstrate Value In The Design Services You Offer

Today I want to show you how to sell value (not just time) in the design services you provide. 

When it comes to selling any product or service there is an important mantra that all sales professionals know:

“People will pay for you to ease their pain, and fuel their pleasure.”

This sentiment is commonly summarized by the word ‘value’. People prefer to buy what they value, or at least what they can justify as having value to them. People value having their pain eased and their pleasure fueled. 

(Note: To help you with your fee proposal and negotiation strategy we’ve created a Starter Kit packed full of free resources):

Fee Proposal Starter Kit

As demonstrated in the Fee Proposal Workshop, when it comes to selling design services your Clients pain and pleasure (value) comes in a variety of forms:


For example, some people value exclusivity and will, therefore, be prepared to spend more on products and services because of the pleasure associated with owning things other people don’t have and (maybe) can’t afford.

This might explain why, despite the availability of the Proctor Silex 2-slice Toaster for AU$7.99 from Kmart, there is still a market for the Alessi stainless steel toaster for AU$445. 

Design Services
Image by Prawny from Pixabay

Those who value affordability over exclusivity will purchase the Proctor Silex, while those who value exclusivity over affordability will purchase the Alessi Toaster.


Some people see value in an entirely different way. For example, many people see value in frugality and derive pleasure from shopping at warehouse stores like Costco.

Design Services
Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

This is not because Costco has the most exclusive items on offer. It’s because, if you’re prepared to buy in bulk (and purchase 48-rolls of toilet paper instead of a more manageable 4-roll pack) you can save money on a per unit basis. Saving money feels good for some people which in turn helps to fuel their pleasure. 


Other people see value in efficiency and avoiding the discomfort (pain) associated with wasting time. A good example of this is provided at London’s Heathrow airport. Passengers who wish to travel to the center of London are given a range of travel choices. 

Design Services
Image by Hugo Hercer from Pixabay

They can take the Paddington Express, which costs approximately £26 and takes 25 minutes to reach Paddington Station. Or they can take the London Underground which costs approximately £5 and takes over 1 hour to reach Paddington station.

Those passengers who value saving time over money will take the express. While those who value saving money over time will take the London underground. Regardless of which option you choose both trains deliver passengers to the same destination: Paddington Station.


Some people see value in reducing or eliminating their discomfort (pain) associated with risk. This explains why rental car companies offer their Clients a range of insurance options from third party coverage, to fully comprehensive. Each service option is being offered at a different price point. 

Design Services
Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay

Some people value reducing their risk (pain) and are prepared to pay more for peace of mind.  While other people are less affected by risk and enjoy (pleasure) the savings that are afforded by a lesser coverage.


Other people will see value in, and receive pleasure from, green living. They feel good about purchasing and supporting sustainable, cruelty free and/or environmentally friendly products and services.

Design Services
Image by laurence-ledanois from Pixabay

A good example of this behavior is demonstrated in a report issued by research firm, GlobalData (“Top Trends in Prepared Food”, Report ID: 4959853, 6/17). The report suggests that in the last 3 years there has been a 600 percent increase in the number of people identifying themselves as vegan in the United States.

How can Architects & Interior Designers Demonstrate Value in Design Services?

The key ingredient behind demonstrating value is by, first, understanding what it is that your Client values (quality, exclusivity, frugality, efficiency and/or sustainability) and then focusing your fee proposal on those values.

By offering a range of service options that address different values you will be able to demonstrate the value in the services that you offer in a way that single service fee proposals can’t.


For example, if a Client is looking for the most exclusive service, then we can offer an all-inclusive service option.


If a Client is looking for the most affordable service, then we can offer an unbundled service option.


If the Client is looking for the quickest solution, then we can offer a fast-track service option. 


And if a Client is looking for a sustainable approach then we can offer a range of green building/LEED/WELL or Biophilic design service options.

The best way to present your fee and service options is with the implementation of a fee matrix. An example of a fee matrix is provided in this post: How to Benefit from LEED Certification and Decoy Pricing.

If you need support creating your fee matrix then the Fee Proposal Workshop is here to help. 

Let us know what you think:

Do you offer design service options based on Client values? Let us know in the comments section below with a “Yes” if you do, or a “No” if you don’t.

Like, Share and Subscribe:

Thank you for reading this post. Please share it with your coworkers using the share buttons below. 

The Fee Matrix:

We’ll be talking more about the fee matrix in later posts. Alternatively, if you value time, and don’t want to wait, we’ve included a variety of different example fee matrices in the Design Professionals Guide to Writing Effective Fee Proposals.

When you apply this simple, yet very powerful, strategy correctly you will begin to see a dramatic (and positive) shift in the way Clients respond to your proposals.

Ready to sell the Value in your Design Services?

Here are some resources that are available right now to help you implement the principle of options and demonstrate value: