Remember when Lehman Brothers went down in September of 2008, and your sales volume dropped precipitously like a large rock falling off a high cliff? Helpless feeling, wasn't it? Even the most senior designers in the kitchen/bath industry could not seemingly make a sale happen back then. Cabinet manufacturers who had just expanded their plant facilities to handle the booming demand of the 2003-2008 economic expansion were just as helpless - aghast at the rapid decline of incoming sales orders.
Now that the economy has rebounded nicely in the last few years, probably no one wants to be reminded of those dark days. But we should because there are a lot of important lessons to be learned from the Great Recession. One such lesson is the industry-wide need to finally learn the fundamentals of selling in general, and how to motivate people to buy in particular.
To advance their own interests, design professionals should embrace professional salesmanship rather than shunning it as something beneath them. After all, the most successful doctors, lawyers, CEOs, and U.S. presidents practice good salesmanship.
Now with a growing economy many owners today are looking to hire more sales designers, preferably experienced ones who are Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designers. And they all seem to be in a rush. But hiring a CMKBD is no guarantee of getting a proven sales producer, only a proven designer.
Unfortunately, most kitchen/bath owners have not developed their operations sufficiently to even furnish a nurturing environment where someone with an engaging sales personality, good character, good time management skills, and a strong inner drive can be trained to sell kitchens and baths. For outsiders to succeed in our industry, all they need is to be trained on a proven sales process, be incubated with the company culture, and coached to ultimately blossom as a superior sales talent within a year or two.
Contrary to popular belief, effective salesmanship does not involve "hard sell" tactics. Rather, according to Dale Carnegie, "closing a sale" is nothing more than the natural conclusion to delivering an effective presentation. Indeed, marketing experts would argue that it is virtually impossible to differentiate a product or service; the only way differentiation can be accomplished is through the delivery of that product or service. And, to be successful, that delivery must be a meaningful experience that generates genuine value for the client.
The Power of Fantasies
To be sure, part of the "delivery process" for a Sales Designer is the presentation of a prospect's floor plan, elevation, and/or perspective - whether they are hand drawn or CAD-produced. And to be sure, the uniqueness of the design, and how well it satisfies the prospect's needs and desires within an agreed upon budget range, should have a positive, rational impact upon the prospect's psyche to purchase the project. At least in good economic times, that is. And because industry professionals have experienced mostly good times is perhaps one plausible reason why we have cultivated an industry of order-takers. But good design alone wasn't enough during the dark days of the recession, and the several years of a weak recovery that followed, to motivate people to buy. Why not?
Because people don't buy rationally, they buy out of sheer emotion. Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator, understood that. He knew that you persuade through logic, but you motivate through emotion. And hence he would describe the America we could become under his leadership as that "shining city on the hill." He won two terms as president by skillfully deploying emotion as a motivating force for people to vote for him.
In his book, The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene writes: "To gain power, you must be the source of pleasure for those around you - and pleasure comes from playing to people's fantasies." He cites the person who can spin a fantasy out of reality "has access to untold power." Greene urges you to search and dig for what really drives people. Because once you discover that, you have "the magical key that will put great power in your hands."
How does this relate at all to the kitchen/bath business? Well, during the Home Consultation visit, experienced designers usually do a pretty good job of finding out what prospects want. However, skilled sales professionals will dig much deeper and find out why they want it. For example, they might wrap up such a meeting by asking: "Mr. Sheehan, if I can give you the top 4 kitchen remodeling priorities you mentioned, what will it mean to you?"
Then they know to shut up and listen carefully because the prospect will reveal his Dominant Buying Motive (DBM). So when, for example, Mr. Sheehan replies "it will be a real joy to cook with our family all present and involved," the skilled sales professional instantly recognizes that of the four possible DBMs, Mr. Sheehan happens to be motivated out of love of family.
And that gives the sales professional incredible power. He knows exactly what fantasy to spin - indeed, what picture to paint - if he subsequently hears the following oft-used, prospect response to the final contract price some weeks later: "We have to think it over."
That's when a professional, who has truly mastered the fundamentals of selling, will wax eloquent with something like: "Imagine, Mr. Sheehan, it's a Saturday morning, you have donned your chef's hat and apron, and you are standing in front of your new island down-draft range. The bacon is sizzling on the griddle while you are flipping your famous chocolate chip pancakes. All 5 snack bar seats are set with colorful paper plates, napkins, and orange juice glasses. You look out your sliding glass doors to your kids and neighborhood friends splashing around in the pool and blow the whistle around your neck. Come and get it kids, you yell out. Breakfast is ready! And they race through the doorway, led by your son Tommy who laughingly tells his pals his silly dad is playing Chef Gino again."
For sales designers in the kitchen/bath industry to realize their full sales and income potential they must exert enough self-discipline to (1) be thoroughly trained in the fundamentals of selling, (2) follow a proven sales process advocated by the dealer/owner, and (3) motivate people to buy through playing to their prospect's fantasies. SEN is the only industry-specific resource to support this agenda.
And that is the value proposition of a SEN membership. You will learn more (and earn more) with us than without us. As proof, we invite you, and/or your sales team, to attend our next 2-Day Sales Boot Camp. You do not have to be a SEN Member to attend. And you will leave with the potential of selling at least 2x more business annually. Imagine that impact on your bank account!