How to Win your Design Commissions

In any profession where creativity is involved we often have to compete for projects. In my profession, architecture this is a common place, whether paid for or at risk.

I have had a pretty good success rate with landing commission over the years, many times against other architects that have achieved a lot more in their career than I have. I wish I could say that it comes down to raw talent, but even if you are the best at what you do, you might not be landing the commissions and much less deserving competitors might be walking away with the projects that should be yours. I would like to share with you the principals that I have learned and acquired over years that have helped me land commissions.

The 6 Rules for landing commissions:

1. Listen

Pay careful attention to your clients wants and needs. Ask questions that would give you insight into the clients personality. Find out more about them, perhaps their likes and dislikes is a start.

2. Mindset

This will be your mindset, the mindset that you tackle the project with. A lot of designers will put risk work on the back burner with the mindset:”I cant spend to much time on this because I might not get the job!” Your mindset should be:”If I don’t spend enough time on this, I will not get this commission.” I attribute this principal alone to most of the success I have had.

3. Keep In contact

Don’t take on the challenge and then disappear till the presentation date. Show the client that you are serious about their project. Send them 5 min draft sketches. Show them pictures and photos of things that are similar to what you will be doing for them. I find that building up a relationship before the presentation dates, help you develop you design a lot closer to what the clients requires. The client has also investing time into your design, making him less likely to abandon you design come d-day.

4. Design something great

The client knows when you are not in love with your own design and that will make it near impossible for them to fall in love with it. Make sure that you have given your best and love what you have done. Show passion.

5. Brief referencing

Make sure that you verbally touch on all the requirements of the brief. Clearly explain your design decisions and how they relates to your clients requirements. Make sure that you have delivers something completely in line with what they require, but something that they would never have dreamed of themselves.

6. NEVER Give Options

My golden rule when doing design presentations.Never give options.Choose the best design and go with it, sell it for all its worth. Some designers think that presenting the client with options shows that they have worked harder then the other competitors, where in actual fact it only show indecision. It gives an impression that you do not have a solid solution for the clients brief.

I hope the above principals will help you success rate landing commissions. It has done so for me over the years.

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  1. Reply Vunky May 12, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    Nice post!

    I have to agree with most of the points. One other thing that always helps me to land the job is paying some more attention to the design proposal. Especially if you want to charge a bit more.

    I have written a post(
    The ABC’s of a good design proposal) about writing design proposals. Perhaps your readers would also like to read that.
    .-= Vunky´s last blog ..If you can’t beat them… Teach! =-.

  2. Reply Frank Suyker May 12, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    You mention some good points here. Most of them I do naturally.

    To avoid giving options to the client, I always call/mail them when I have an idea which I’m not sure about.

  3. Reply Frank Suyker May 12, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    Forgot one thing: sometimes you have to let go of the brief and do something out-of-the-box. 99% of the times this ends up in a much better result.

  4. Reply Jennifer R May 20, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    Thanks for your great article.
    .-= Jennifer R´s last blog ..Top 10 Images Slideshow Scripts =-.

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    Thank you very much :) loved it

  6. Reply G13 Media May 26, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    Great post I really enjoyed the read and bookmarked it also Thanks
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  7. Reply vector graphics June 26, 2010 at 8:28 PM

    awesome post. loved the images in the post as well.

  8. Reply Rajnikant July 10, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    I like the post and like it “NEVER give the Option” I prefer this strategy


  9. Reply Josefine Gustus August 1, 2010 at 9:18 PM

    Thank you for spelling it out so clearly, when i began learning about this I was a skeptic, but now I’m continually seeking info. Many thanks once more, I hope you don’t mind if I link this tomy blog to ensure my readers can take advantage of this info aswell Thanks

    • Reply Kelsey December 11, 2012 at 8:06 AM

      Speaking of spelling, did anyone notice that spelling error? ;)

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