Everybody loves lists. Lists are good ways to organize, remember and pass along information that can help us in our daily lives—personally as well as professionally.
Last month I listed my 10 top free marketing techniques (see D&WC,
July 2002, page 40). This month it’s sales tools—one or
two of which may come as a pleasant surprise to you!
1. Good Reputation—When we sold our 17-year-old custom
window coverings business, we had 21 employees. The business had
started with only one: my mother. How did it grow so much? Our No.
1 successful sales tool was word-of-mouth.
We worked very hard not only to satisfy our customers, but also
to go beyond what they expected in both workmanship and customer
service. This built such a good reputation that our work sold itself
through customer referrals.
2. Your Appearance—Your appearance is an important selling
tool. Because we are a visual industry, everything visual about
our sales call is important, including how we look.
You don’t have to be fancy. After all, many times we have to
climb ladders while at a site. However, do be professional in your
3. Your Presence, Confidence and Selling Skills—It’s
a proven fact! If your clients have confidence in you, they will
buy from you! The first step in building your clients’ confidence
is to let them see the confidence you have in yourself.
If you are nervous and unsure, they will be nervous and unsure about
buying from you. Make sure you practice and hone your selling skills
to their peaks to help build your own confidence.
4. Good Forms, Software and Measuring Tools—Many professional
forms (such as Minutes Matter), computer software (such as Easy
Quote) and measuring tools (such as the MitR Gauge) exist, and they
help you work more efficiently and error-free.
But, what do they have to do with selling? These professional tools
enhance your presence, reinforcing to your clients that they are
indeed working with a professional.
5. Letters of Recommendation—Having your previous clients’
satisfaction in writing is one of the best ways to build confidence
in your perspective clients. You can place the letter in an attractive
portfolio for your sales presentation.
6. Copies of Certificates and Certifications—Any evidence
of your qualifications as a professional also helps build your clients’
confidence in your work.
If you have attended school, seminars at trade shows or any other
specialized training, or received an industry certification, let
your clients know. Keep the documents on display for your customers
to view in your portfolio along with your letters of recommendation.
7. Portfolio of Photographs—Seeing is believing! Not
only have your letters and certificates in a portfolio, but fill
it with lots and lots of photographs of window treatments.
Use photos of your own work if you have them. Make copies of treatments
created by your networking friends if they will share them with
you. Clip photos out of magazines and books, but make sure that
you are clear as to which treatments you have made and which are
included in the portfolio for ideas only.
8. Idea Presenters—One of the best ways to sell window
treatments is to excite customers about all the creative possibilities
available to them by using you. It can be very difficult for a client
to visualize the concept you are presenting. Presenting a hand-drawn
sketch is very helpful; however, many sales people cannot draw well
enough for professional results. (Like me!)
Fortunately, several sales tools exist that effectively present
treatment ideas to your clients in a very professional and impressive
manner. Books filled with color photographs and drawings include
The Designers Digest, The Curtain Design Directory and The Potterton
Pictorial. Overlay systems include Mastervisions and the E-Z Decorator
9. Samples—Even better than a photograph or drawing
is the real thing! I know you can’t carry an actual sample
of every type of window treatment. Carrying as many different styles
as possible is a good selling tool, especially when selling add-on
Show the sample without the trim and then show it with the trim.
Even if the sample trim isn’t the exact one you are suggesting,
customers usually will buy the trim when they can see what a dramatic
difference it makes!
10. Asking for the Business—Selling expert and developer
of the Mastervisions system, Sally Tucker, taught me that the most
important selling tool is asking for the business. We often get
so focused on presenting ourselves, our work and our ideas that
we simply forget to actually ask for the business. Why should they
buy if we don’t ask them to?
I hope you find these 10 selling tools helpful. What are your top
10 suggestions pertaining to the window coverings industry (tools,
shortcuts, packing techniques, business tips, etc.)? Please, send
them to me and I’ll get them into an upcoming article.
Strickland is owner of Professional Drapery School, Swannanoa, NC,
and is an internationally acclaimed speaker with 20 years experience
in the window coverings industry. She is the publisher and editor
of Sew WHAT?, an international monthly newsletter for professional