Clients are the lifeblood of your business, and developing a high rapport and building up a great relationship with them is critical. However, many business owners often lose sight of this, even though they know how important their clients are. On today’s episode of CEO Sales Strategies, Doug C. Brown talks with Jing Johnson, the founder and CEO of Prism Renderings. Join Doug and Jing as they discuss Jing’s journey of building Prism Renderings, client advocacy, developing a connected client base, and more.
Jing Johnson is the founder and president of Prism Renderings and trained as an architectural professional. After 15 years working inside architecture firms, Jing saw the need for a high-quality architectural visualization service. She developed a delivery model to create renderings more efficiently by leveraging her architectural background in the detailing and quality control of all deliverables, allowing her flexibility to balance her career and motherhood. Jing now oversees all PRISM operations and leads the firm’s strategic planning.
Visit her website: www.prismrenderings.com
We have Jing Johnson. She owns a company called Prism Renderings. I wanted to have her on this show because she has built a longstanding company and has been doing it specifically on using client appreciation. In other words, she has built a very connected client base through her company doing renderings, which is for architectural, design, brokers, real estate developers and others. She will explain more of that as we go along but it’s about how to take a person from I do not know you to a prospective potential buyer to a buyer to a friend and then to ultimately the advocate play. This is how she has built her business over the years.
We also attack a little bit of when people are going, “This is hard in my business.” This lady came from China and came into the country not understanding English all that well and built a very successful business here in the United States. We talked a little bit about struggling and how it goes. The interview takes a little bit of time to get into the sales side of the interview. I know some of you people who are the high drivers going, “Get to the interview and meat.” It will get there. I promise you as you go along. Check it out. We are talking a lot about how to be a company that drives client advocacy. That is such a key because tons of referrals. Over 90% of our business comes in from referrals even though she has an outbound team that is going after business as well.
Jing, welcome to the show. It’s a pleasure having you here.
Thank you for having me.
I love your company and what it does. We are going to focus on how you created your company and the sales that you have created and being very client-focused and deep-connected with the community that you have of architectural firms and real estate developers and others. There are a lot of times people do not know what a rendering company would be, what is this?
We create images like 3D renderings and animations for projects that have not been built. It helps people to visualize what the building or space looks like after it’s built. It’s a very efficient and powerful tool to help people like our clients, architects and developers to either get funding or in front of the potential talents or getting in front of the city to show their vision of the projects.
It’s like a 3D rendering or a rendering of a model of a community, building or whatever and how it’s going to look before they even put it together and build the building or build a community. It’s so cool because you watch the movies and they will pan through an architectural firm and sometimes they build the old model thing. What you do is you take that model, put it in a digital form, animate it and do all kinds of different things. That is what I understand.
It’s futuristic and it’s cool because I have seen a few renderings. I appreciate that. You have been in business for years and for those of us who are reading, it’s a pretty long run for a company to be in. Not many companies make it years. You have been doing this for years successfully. I would like to take you back to when you started, why did you start the company? I found your story fascinating.
I came from China in ’93. Both of my parents were structural engineers. I grew up in the company they worked within. A huge architecture engineering institute. That was all I knew. I grew up during the civil revolution in China. We do not have a lot of entertainment. Anything was a very innocent childhood. My brother and I went to their office every day after school. We would do our homework over there. I was surrounded by architecture drawings and pen renderings, not digital ones, growing up. My brother and I chose architecture to go to college. I got my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in China and worked a couple of years before I applied to a graduate school in the States and eventually moved here in ‘93.
I worked after I graduated from the University of Houston architecture school. I worked in 2 or 3 architecture firms. I have two boys at a young age when I start to think about starting my business because of the struggles I had between work and home life, architecture work is very demanding time-wise. I was always struggling between taking care of my boys and staying late for work. At that time, we were doing some projects in China and that is how I put 2 and 2 together for my business model because China construction industry booming for about years at the time. The rendering industry was also booming with the whole construction industry. I figured out if I can bring design expertise from the States to China, I can also bring that rendering visualization side of the expertise back here to the States which we needed here.
At that time, did you learn English when you were growing up or when you got here in the United States?
I did have an English class. It’s funny you asked that because everybody thought my English was good at that time because I always made the best grade in the class. However, I do not use it. It was my test. Doing well in the test is very different than you speak the language. When I came over here, it was a struggle. That was probably the only period of my life that I was very quiet in terms of communication in English, I was not there. It was challenging for me.
There are some lessons in this that I want to pull out. Firstly, there is a lot of people reading this show and they are thinking, “I got struggles in daily life too.” Here was what I heard. You come from a different country, your primary language is Mandarin. It’s not English. You have to learn the language. You had to struggle through the language. You got a struggle right there about doing business in the United States because you are not able to drive English-speaking business at that point. You started this company because of a desire to have a family life and know your kids as they grew up. I got to imagine, there were some times where you were like, “I got the kids. I’m juggling that. I cannot speak the language. Maybe I should work in China.”
By the way, brilliant move because any of you who realize if you want to grow your revenue as fast, find a buying market and go into that market. It may not even be a primary market that you are thinking about but go into the market because the market is already telling you this demand for that versus trying to be a pioneer forging into a new market. You were smart enough to say, “I have this market in China. I’m going to go there first and then bring what I know back to the United States.” I want to get into the customer-focused thing but I want to hear from you, if somebody is at a place and they are struggling, what would you tell them? In other words, you pushed through this. How did you push through this? What was the driving force to continue to go, learn English, bring your knowledge into the United States and then build your business here?
Two things. One is I believe in it. I believe in the service that our local market needs a consistent and reliable rendering service. I have that strong will that I need to make it work to provide a well-balanced life for my kids and myself career-wise. For me, it’s no option, even after years and no matter how difficult it gets, I know a lot of people talk about quitting, it never occurred to me to quit it. It was like, how I can make it better? How I can get through it? That has always been the way I live my life and work.
That is one of the reasons you are successful because a lot of people in the business run through struggles and hard times. I have too. If we are not pointing our nose in a direction and every day asking that question, “I’m going to take a step. Where do I need to go to make this better? Where do I need to go to make this better than yesterday? Where do I need to go to make this better tomorrow than today?” If we are not asking that question consistently, it’s easy to get lost in the struggle. You and I both know that you have been in business for years. I suspect not everything has gone smooth through the whole years. You wake up one day and like, “What are we going to do with this?”
Folks, you still have to keep your nose pointed in the direction you want to go and keep taking steps. That is a brilliant question. What can I do to make it better? You focus on the positives. We are speaking with Jing Johnson. She owns a company called Prism Renderings. They are in Houston, Texas. I highly recommend you check them out online. You started this company. You had no command of the English language or a little, at that point. You have a family life. You were never going to quit. Even in our conversation, I can tell that is part of your success. You have been in business for years.
You have driven your company up. You have employees. You have done everything that most businesses would want to do. You want to continue to keep growing your revenue, which is something that all businesses tend to want to do but not all do. You have an extremely loyal client base. I love how you built your company. It’s a client-focused deeply centered on client connection and humanization of your clients. Could you describe what that means? In your own words, what does a client-focused humanized business look like?
It’s related to your last question. In addition to the determination and belief of the business and service, our client’s support and appreciation is another critical factor for me to continue going because that is what drives me to wake up every day. Every time we got great feedback or a client lets us know the great outcome our service provided to their projects or a business makes me smile every time I see those comments or feedback. I have a very close team. We have seven moms. We are all moms’ team. We care for each other. We are not just teammates and colleagues, we are family and the same goes for our clients.
We do not consider them clients. They are our friends. In Houston in 2021, we had floods and winter storms. We would reach out to all our clients and the people who struggle with some damage, we sent out a DoorDash card and all clients have charity organization that needs support. We are there with them. For me, work and life and you cannot separate them. They are all connected. We are trying to be as supportive as possible and servant leadership and attitude are one of our core values. With the clients that we deeply care about their project, we want them to be successful. In the meantime, if we have an opportunity to support them on the personal level or charity level, we are more than happy to do so. That, for us, is very important.
The key here is they are not just clients, you are looking for a closer connection and making them friends. People reading might be going, “That is cool but does it yield more business?” The reality is you are getting business from referrals. In sales, I teach this as well. They are not just a buyer. Your ultimate goal is to get invited to a wedding or a family event because when you have that, they are your client. A lot of people talk about clients but most of them have customers. What you have done is you have taken that and gone from a prospective buyer to buyer to friend.
The people who believe in us, love what we do and cannot wait to refer us to other people, 90% of our new businesses are from referrals. We have had long-term clients over the past years. In the beginning, two of the clients that we started with are still with us.
When we have clients that buy from us again, the cost of acquisition is in the initial client. It costs you nothing out marketing or cost-wise, you might have a little bit of sales costs if your sales team is driving that number. The reality is your profitability is much higher when you build it into that model. You go from, I do not know you to a prospective buyer to a buyer to a friend to advocate because you get the exponential growth factor from being an advocate so those advocates are out there promoting. With advocates, what I have found is you might have that potential buyer that is on the fence every once in a while and then they speak to an advocate and the advocate is going, “Are you crazy? This is the best place you ever could be in your life.” With conviction and trust.
We are in the B2B space so trust and reliability are so important. One of the reasons I started a business is because when I was working in the architecture firms, I remember we always ask, whenever we need a rendering service, we were like, “Who we should call?” There are not many companies out there to have that consistent and reliable business or any of the architectural firms locally to trust and work with. We want to be that company. We are here for the long haul. We are going to be here whenever you need us. That trust factor is so important in a sales process. It’s not transactional, it’s a long-term trusting relationship we have with our clients.
The late Stephen Covey wrote a book called The Speed of Trust. It’s on this whole factor. The more someone trusts us the quicker the sale when it comes down to it. I will give you an example outside of our space. I’m looking for a new home. I see this home in an area that I have been to before. I called three of my friends in this area and I said, “I’m not sure. Is this a desirable neighborhood?” I was not sure because I have not been there in a couple of years and things change. I called my friend Bill, Will and Russ. I talked to Cindy.
They said, “I will take a drive by the property and look at it for you.” I want people to think about that. They were my clients and we have done lots of work back and forth. How many people would say, “I’m going to take out of my workday, go drive by a property to make sure it’s a good deal for you.” Talk to some people. They introduced me to some new people that I did not even know. That is an advocate when it comes down to it because they are an advocate for the other real estate people that they were talking to. They are an advocate for me, they are putting a good deal together. I know you do this master in your company. You are not manipulative. You are doing this out of a natural client focus to build trust.
People can tell if you are faking it. You got to be true. People can tell you if you are trustful or faking it.
If people are reading and going, “I want to know more about renderings.” It’s not just architectural or real estate development. There are probably other companies that could use renderings if they are doing something. How would they get more information? What is the website? Where should they go?
In addition to architecture firms and developers, we also work with the owner site and the brokerage companies. As far as the contact information, they can go to my LinkedIn profile. There is not many Jing Johnson out there. Our website is PrismRenderings.com.
I appreciate you being here on the show. Folks, those of you who are reading, remember, build them into advocates, be client-focused, drive them to the next place and you will have clients buying from you as she has for the last years over and over and then referring you out to other clients which reduces your acquisition costs and increases your speed to close very much. Thanks. I appreciate you being here on the show.
It is so important for us especially in 2022, post-pandemic to understand that sales have changed. Sales have gone from providing information. If you want to go and be in the top 1%, you have got to get client advocates. It’s that simple. The client advocates are people who are going to give you other clients. How do you do that? You build a lot of trust and friendship. You go above and beyond and do things for your clients that others would not do. It makes you stand out. When you ask them for a favor, they are more than happy to do so.
When they proactively or reactively do it someone says, “I’m looking for the service or product that you provide.” Those advocates are there to spread the word. If you think about it in a lot of businesses even if you go into religion as a business, how does it spread? “Come to my church. What church do you belong to? What faith do you belong to? Let’s talk about this.” People are talking and they are being advocates for what they believe in. When you create an advocate in your business, they believe in you. When they believe in you and your company, they will pass more business to you.
As always, go out. Sell something. Sell a lot of things. Do it profitably. Make a lot of money. If you like this show, do me a favor, give it a review. If you would, please subscribe to the channel. The more subscribers we get, it pushes us up the rankings. The better rankings we have, the more people we can affect and positively improve their lives. If you are looking to grow your company, get your people or your company to the top 1% no matter what size you are of sales globally in your industry, reach out to me at Doug Brown on LinkedIn or Doug@BusinessSuccessFactors.com and let’s talk. Make it a great day for your success.
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