9 Tips for Selling Architectural Services


I am an architect. So why did I spend 11 hours in the hot Denver sun selling pest control as a door-to-door salesman?

Sales skills are an essential ingredient for business success. Whether you are looking for a job or pitching a client, your power to convince will depend largely on your ability to sell. Having good sales skills will go a long way toward putting your architecture firm on a solid foundation.

I wanted to put myself to the test and see if I have what it takes to sell door-to-door. The life of a door-to-door salesman is hard. The days are long and full of rejection. Successful salesmen are masters of persuasion and human psychology.

I can't think of another sales experience with more immediate feedback than walking from house to house testing out the same pitch over and over. So when I found out that my younger brother was going to be in Denver selling pest control while I was attending the AIA National Convention, I jumped at the chance to leave the world of architecture for the day and become an undercover pest control salesman.

The day was long and hot. It was humbling to shed my persona as a college-educated architect and become a salesman with no degree and no credential. And although selling architectural services is far removed from door-to-door sales, I still learned several valuable lessons that I will be applying to selling architectural services.

Lesson #1: Selling is an acquired skill.

I've often envied those with the gift of gab and power of persuasion. Selling seems to come easily to some people and is difficult for others who have a more introverted personality.

While some people are more wired for socializing than others, my day of door-to-door sales convinced me that effective selling is an acquired skill. I got better at it as the day wore on. And my brother, with a month of sales under his belt, was far better at it than I was.

This is great news for those of us who dread having to sell our architectural services because it means that with study and practice we can become better.

I identified the two most important tactics for improving your skill at selling.

  1. Study the proper steps for a successful sales conversation. There is a well defined psychology in the sales process of taking someone from a complete stranger to a client. Many books describe this process. I've included links to a few of the best books at the bottom of this post. Buy them, study them, and figure out how you can apply their lessons to selling your services as an architect. $20 dollars for a book and an hour of your time is a wise investment that will pay dividends for the rest of your career.
  2. Role play the sales conversation. After you've identified the proper way to sell your services, sit down with a colleague, spouse or other hapless victim and practice having a sales conversation. Have them raise typical concerns and practice an effective response for each one. I found this to be very effective for my day of sales. This is hard work and takes time, but as Andrew Carnegie said, “anything in life worth having is worth working for”.

This is the first lesson I learned from my day of sales, but there are 8 others.  I know you don't have much time, so I'll explain more about these other 8 points in my next post. If you are on the Business of Architecture Insider's List, I'll send you an email when the next post is live. You'll also have access to other Insider only content like marketing tips and the download link for my book on how social media can help you get more visibility online.

What are some insights about selling architectural services that you've gained over the years? Leave your answer in the comments below.

Here is your essential sales libray:

Here is the link to Part 2 of this article.



Enoch Bartlett Sears is the founder of the Architect Business Institute, Business of Architecture and co-founder of the Architect Marketing Institute. He helps architects become category leaders in their market. Enoch hosts the #1 rated interview podcast for architects, the Business of Architecture Show where prominent guests like M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. and Thom Mayne share tips and strategies for success in architecture.

10 Responses

  1. I,m strongly considering retirement at the end of 2016 and was interested to know of a company who might be interested in marketing and selling my firm. I have a successful business in Western North Carolina but don’t know of a company who offers this service. Do you know of company I could talk with?

    Brent Davis, AIA
    Brent Davis Architecture, Inc.
    Boone, North Carolina

    1. Hello Brent and congratulations on this new milestone. There one firm that does this kind of work, but unfortunately their name is slipping my mind.

      If I were you, I’d send out letters to other local and non-local firms to see if there is some interest. Also contact Herbert Cannon, I’ll send you his contact information via email.

  2. white feather studios provides services 3D Architectural Visualizations , 3D Renderings & 3D Architectural Animations we provide High Qulity Renderings and High Qulity Defination Output Animations…..

  3. Was the truck with the enormous bug on the side helpful in selling undercover pest control services?

  4. Good day.

    I appreciate the knowledge drop. Any advice to a young man, new to the world of limestone, attempting to promote and sell to architects in the Midwest?

  5. This is a great post. I really find it enlightening. I did door to door as a sales person for
    “Fuller Brush” in the hot sun of Phoenix Arizona. That was a tough one especially being
    16 years of age without any kind of experience. So, I can relate to this post. It is an acquired skill. No doubt.
    Keep these posts coming Enoch. Great stuff.

  6. Great post Enoch! I did something creative in my sales as well. I would love to write a guest post about it or talk about it with you via interview. I’ll send you an email of what I did. Keep on making great content. I love it.

  7. “just the other day a Marketing frnd said to me “ur problem is you dont like to ask for work, ur a creative guy!!” if i were to go by your rules of marketting, creative people need a big lesson in how to do MARKETING to look for more work! agreed with most points u said, and yes its an Acquired skill, either u have it or have someone close who has the skill and can go that extra mile for u.

  8. Yes, so true. Many years ago I worked for a home improvement company, which was really a sales and marketing company. Zig Ziglar and Tom Hopkins were my best friends. And the 9 points you make are dead on. I, like you, found out that selling is a skill that can be learned and the more successful sales folks are the ones that do the least amount of talking and the most amount of listening. Thanks for an excellent post!

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