10 Tips for Winning Over that Skeptical Client

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We’ve all been there – we have a great client “on the hook” but they just won’t commit. It can be so frustrating, especially when you’ve practically designed their entire house in your head and you’re ready to jump in! So what’s a creative to do in this situation?

I have 10 tips that will help you move that client right off the fence and into your “current client” category! Try these to hone your art of persuasion:

1. Take it face-to-face. Often in this digital age, we’re talking to clients via email, text, and phone rather than sitting down together for a meeting. We use the excuse that everyone is too busy and that taking care of it all online streamlines everything. But what that also does is keep you from establishing rapport with that potential client, and that’s not good. So if you have a client that’s wavering, have a meeting where you can sit down and just talk!

2. Don’t make it personal. First, don’t let your emotions get in the way. If you’re pushing too hard, some people will naturally back away. I know you’re excited, but don’t let that overwhelm the situation. And on the other side of the coin, don’t get angry or frustrated because they aren’t saying “yes” right away. People can always sense that frustration.


3. Be strong. Okay, let me clarify: I do NOT mean that you should strong arm them! What I mean by this is don’t cave on your pricing structure or bend your own rules and procedures because you’re caught up in the moment of trying to get them to sign your contract. That’s not going to work out for you in the long run.

4. Show your knowledge – and confidence. There is one reason that people are seeking you out – you have knowledge and skills that they don’t. So be sure that you’re showing your confidence in your abilities. That confidence will make them trust you and your ideas.

5. Draw them out. See if you can get to the heart of their hesitation. What do they really want that they aren’t telling you? Do they need more time to decide? Are they feeling overwhelmed? Ask them how they are feeling about what you’ve presented, and tell them that you love feedback.

6. Listen. People can give you feedback, but it’s no good if you don’t actually listen to it. Be sure that you are really hearing what that person has to say and what they really want. Sometimes the very information you need to finish the sale is in what they’re saying – and not saying.


7. Use a little humor. This is always a really stressful time for people. Even if they have a lot of money, it’s hard for some people to commit to giving you thousands of dollars. And then you add to it the fact that it’s about their home, their most intimate spaces, and the emotion goes up 1000%. So try using a little humor to break the tension – but only a little.

8. Be committed. You have to commit to making the sale. What I mean by that is that this can also be emotional for YOU – and a real confidence sapper. So instead of following up with meetings and questions, you may avoid the hard work of getting to the heart of why the person is hesitating. But you have to commit to seeing it through. Go back and look at #2 – it isn’t personal.

9. Show you care. Everyone loves gifts, right? So be sure you’re giving something thoughtful and heartfelt to the potential client. Maybe for a meeting in their home, you could take a set of books for their child, or a basket of dog toys for their pet. Show that this is the type of fantastic client experience that they will have through the whole process with you.

10. Prove that it’s smart decision for them. This is really the big one. You want to show them how you will save them time, money, and headaches – and you’ll produce their dream home for them, too! Give them the facts and figures they may need to see why going with you is a smart idea. And of course, don’t let it just be about your fees because you never win when you play that game. It has to be about your expertise, your knowledge, and your contacts that will save them money in the long run – not a savings on your fees.

So what do you think of these tips? Do you think you can use them to get that ideal client into your pipeline? Let me know in the comments section below!








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Before and After: Light and Bright Nursery

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People often turn to interior designers when there is a big occasion in their lives – like having a little one moving into her own room. And when my clients asked me to turn a little-used upstairs room into a light and bright nursery, I jumped at the chance!

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As you can see in the photos above and below, this space was one of those catch-all rooms that we all have in our homes. It was partly a guest room and partly a storage area.

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It wasn’t really used a lot, and the color was more than a little off-putting. That deep-dark brown wasn’t doing anybody any favors. And it sure wasn’t right for a sweet little girl’s room! It made this room so dark, even though it has a big window.

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So of course I lightened and brightened the color palette, using a lot of the black and white that psychologists say is so good for babies’ growing minds. I even outlined the angles of the room to make it more interesting graphically. And then I popped in some sunny yellows and greens to add fun and whimsy.

What do you think of the transformation? Would you try outlining your room with a bold stripe like I did? Let me know in the comments section below!







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Everyone’s Favorite Color

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Tomorrow I’ll be at Toms-Price in Chicago, talking about my favorite topic – color! So I thought I’d kick things off today with a look at the world’s favorite color. Yes, I said the world!

For the second year in a row, a survey of thousands of people in 10 countries on four continents showed that blue is still the top pick of all the colors. It’s the favorite among men and women, no matter the age or ethnicity. No wonder I like to use blue in my projects – my clients love it, too!

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So what is it about this color that makes everyone so happy? Psychologists say that it’s because blue is the color that we like to see the most in nature – the blue of the sky and all of the watery blues. It’s also calming and has even been proven to lower blood pressure!

In color psychology, blue brings to mind peace, order, and safety. That explains why it continues to show up on those lists of faves, right? And it really does mean that blue is a perfect color for the home, too. Depending on the shade you choose, it can be bold and dramatic or soft and serene. Blue never really goes out of style – it’s a classic!

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So do you use blue in your home? Tell me below where and how you do! And if you would like to join me this week at Toms-Price to get my top tips for working with color in your home, come by the Lincolnshire store tomorrow night at 6pm, or see me at the Wheaton location on Friday at 12pm. Hope to see you there!







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Tobi TV: Top Tips for Mixing Fabrics

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Fabric, particularly beautiful patterned and geometric fabrics full of color and style, are my jumping off point for every project. In fact, I always select the fabrics before I choose the paint colors for a room. It’s really the start of all my inspiration.


But I also know how hard it can be to decide which fabrics work together. So I want to give you my insider tips for mixing fabrics with success!

See? You can do it just like the pros do if you follow those easy tips! Let’s recap:

1. Find one “WOW” fabric for each space and let it lead the way. For me, that usually means a large-scale floral or geometric that I am crazy about.

2. It’s all about scale. I usually start my fabric scheme with the largest scale fabric, say that oversized floral. Next comes a slightly smaller scale – maybe a geometric print. And then I layer down from there to something smaller like a pin stripe. Layering scale may be the most important step for successful fabric mixing.

3. Don’t worry! I know it can be scary when you start mixing all those colors and patterns. But don’t be afraid that your room will be too busy. Remember that the largest pieces in the room like the sofa, are usually neutral and solid and it’s this solid base that holds all the patterns and colors together.

So what do you think, are you daring enough to mix color and pattern in your fabrics like a pro? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts on my fabric mixing tips. And be sure to share this video with your decor-loving friends.

Happy Mixing!







For more tips and ideas, be sure to check out my YouTube Channel, featuring every episode of Tobi TV!

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Are Your Subs Sub-Par?

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You could be the very best at what you do – the master of customer service, of creativity, and of quick delivery – and your entire project could be destroyed by one sub-par subcontractor. It’s scary, but too often the power to make or break our best clients isn’t actually in our control.

If you’re in a business like mine, who you choose to work with or to partner with, can really be critical to your company’s success! I work with some of the best subcontractors in the business – and I really reward them so that I will be able to work with them for years to come. In fact, I often tell people that I would rather get rid of my brand new house than my drapery guy! That’s a joke, of course, but it does let you know how important that person is to my business. He’s not just important, he’s critical.


And it isn’t just about providing a great product to you and your clients, it’s about reflecting your business’s values and branding, too. For example, you can provide the highest level of white-glove service, but if your art installer shows up in dirty clothes that barely fit and smelling of cigarettes, that’s also going to be a reflection on you! Maybe that doesn’t seem fair, but that’s how it is.

Because whoever you choose to partner with must represent your best, too. So if you have painters entering a home you’re designing, they must be professional, courteous, and look professional. Or if you are a photographer, your assistants must be well groomed, on-brand, and in the background.


The best advice is to be sure you spell this out upfront before you start to work with a sub. My letters of agreement and contracts spell out what my expectations are – that I expect the same level of professionalism that my own company provides. I even talk about personal grooming and presentation. That may seem over-the-top to some, but it’s the best way to protect the hard work I’ve put into building my brand and my customer experience!

And I once even had to ask a person to leave a job site when they showed up with sloppy clothes and a really nasty attitude. I also called the company that sent that person out, to be sure they understood what the issue was. Again, not the most fun thing to do, but I would rather have a few uncomfortable conversations with subcontractors than to lose a client or future business!

So be sure you do the hard work of vetting companies and people that you want to work with – it could save you a lot of headaches in the future. And when you find that perfect partner, be sure you treat them like gold! They’re worth a lot for your future success!







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