How to Make Your Design Business a Well-Oiled Machine

Fine-tune your processes so you can capture more work. Updated July 2021.

Amber Sawaya
Published in
7 min readJan 21, 2020


Photo: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via Unsplash

WWelcome to 2021*. This is going to be your year to make the most of your design business. At least, that’s what we’re going to do at Anchor & Alpine. I want all of us to take this time to get our agencies in order to capture more business from the right kinds of clients. These are some ways we can do that.

*This story was first published in January 2020, updated in July 2021.

  • Sales pipeline management
  • Proposal process
  • Contract review

Sales pipeline management

Do you have a sales pipeline? Is it working well for you?

Copper lead tracking

What is a sales pipeline?

If you aren’t familiar with the term, a sales pipeline is the series of steps it takes for you to make a sale.

It’s called a pipeline (or funnel) because each step weeds out more people until you get to the final stage of the sale, where you’ve either won or lost the bid. If you track this, you will know when and how you lost a sale and can start to focus on improving that step.

Our sales pipeline has these steps:

  1. Lead: Something we’ve heard of or someone we’ve met or have been referred to. We haven’t actually talked to them yet.
  2. Intro: We’ve had a conversation with the potential client, or someone we know has introduced us, so the sales process is in full swing.
  3. Talk money: We make sure to talk ballpark estimates in the first or second meeting; never move to the next stage without checking this off.
  4. Proposal sent: We’ve sent over the numbers, and we’re waiting to hear what the client says.
  5. Negotiation: The client has looked at the proposal, and we’re coming to terms.
  6. Hold: If a client isn’t ready yet, but the project isn’t totally dead, the project goes in this column. The…



Amber Sawaya
Writer for

Design Agency Partner • 40 Under 40; I write about design/UX, the state of design and tech, startups, joy, & productivity. 🖤☕️📓👩🏼‍💻🏴‍☠️