When it comes to selling, many interior designers have discovered the hard way that avoiding the wrong steps can be as important as taking the right ones.

Those design professionals whose sales results and profits aren't what they could be, or should be, are usually guilty of some — or perhaps all of the terrible 10 selling sins.

You, too, may be sabotaging your success if you:

1. Fail to chart your course. A design professional without a sales plan is like a ship without a rudder. You can only measure your progress and reach your goals if you know what they are.

2. Don't qualify prospects. Do they have the need, budget and commitment to work with you? If they can't afford your price, you can't afford to waste your time.

3. Fail to pinpoint the "pain." You can only present your design firm as the "remedy" when you know what clients' biggest design challenges are. Chances are those challenges relate to the fact that their lifestyles have changed but their space hasn't.

4. Fear price objections. Welcome them! They're buying signals. Prospects have to be somewhat interested in your services to question their price. Price queries, or even protests, may be a signal they want to keep talking. Justify your fee by explaining how you save clients time, money and headaches.

5. Don't create immediacy. It's important for designers to sell "now" as well as "wow." Motivating buyers to act right away is the cure when procrastination is the problem. Develop multiple reasons as to why "now" is the best time to invest in our design services.

6. Don't focus on your fans. Your current clients are your best ones. They know, trust and like you. As long as you can serve them, you can sell them. The lifetime value of a client is 1,000 times greater than the value of a single transaction.

7. Don't play pool. If you don't follow the lead of professional billiards players, you should: Always set up your next shot. The idea here is to look ahead, and go beyond "one and done" contracts. That means discussing Phase II before starting Phase I.

8. Miss signals. Questions about delivery, warranty, service, etc. mean they're ready to buy. Are you ready to sell? If so, present your price, then hold your tongue. Ninety percent of sales people in general and design pros in particular offer to lower their price at some point before they're asked to do so. Bad idea.

9. Don't close the sale. Two simple questions can help you get more signed contracts, more often: "How committed are you to change?" and "What would it cost you not to move ahead with this?"

10. Don't sell yourself. The most important sale you make is the personal one. Don't leave money on the table by selling yourself and your company short. You'll convert more contacts into contracts if you tell and sell all that you have to offer.