What is your batting average when it comes to closing sales as a window product consultant? If you closed six sales out of the last 10 appointments you went on, you have a 60 percent closure rate. Pretty good for a busy consultant in these times. But wouldn’t it be great if you could get just one more sale for every 10 times at bat? Even better, if you could add $200 average to each sale, count your customers for last year and think what it would mean for this year.
But, how can you do it? Competition is tougher than ever and maybe
the market is not growing much in your area. Still, you can do it.
So, this month, let’s talk about how professionals close sales.
And, I don’t mean the kind of pushy salesperson who turns on
the pressure at the end of the sale. I mean just the opposite: the
professional who is warm and friendly and actually closes the sale
before going for the first sample.
Here are key steps of an opening presentation that will make a big
difference in your selling success. This is the presentation you make
before you go to your car for samples.
GOING ON THE APPOINTMENT: THE OPENING
After arriving with a briefcase and a warm smile (never, never with
any samples), you enter the room and cover the following points in
exactly the order shown. Every step is critical. High-closing professionals
never shortcut or skip a step with a new customer. When the opening
is done right, the close will be automatic.
1. Set the customer at ease. Compliment something in her home
or the area the home is located. Show her you respect her and consider
her a person of good taste. (Later, she’ll make a buying decision
consistent with this self-image.)
Ask about the windows she has in mind, but don’t focus on this
alone. What she cares about is how the room looks and eventually,
how her entire house looks. A house walk-though is an excellent idea.
2. Take a house tour. Learn more about the customer’s
home, her dreams, her goals and how your solution for a specific window
can fit into those plans.
Now you have made a friend by listening to her (not talking about
yourself, and not giving decorating solutions), and you know what
she needs for years to come.
3. Now tell your story. It’s your turn. As you finish
the house tour, go to the window that needs attention. Sit down side-by-side
on a sofa or in a chair at right angles. Tell your customer what makes
you special and different from the competition. Show a photograph
album of work you’ve done and letters from satisfied customers.
4. Qualify her needs. Ask more questions. Find out answers to
four of the five critical questions you must know before showing fabrics.
The critical questions are: Who? Why? When? Who’s the competition?
• Who will be involved in the final decision—her
husband, a friend or anyone else? If so, they should be present.
• Why does she want the product? What is her motive? Why
now, why not last month (or next month)? Her buying motive is most
important. You will repeat it back to her in her own words throughout
the rest of the presentation.
• When does she need the product? Any special event coming
up? You want to hear that she has an important deadline and later
use this as a reason to place an order today.
• Competition. What about your competitors? Has anyone
else been out? Did she like their ideas? What were their prices? Did
they leave a sketch or sample? The time to know is now before you
tell her your ideas and prices.
5. Products and treatment. Now is the time to talk about the
window. Discuss your different products—draperies, valances,
cornices, blinds, shutters—and ask her ideas on the ones she
might want. Discuss different treatments and looks. When you agree
on the product and treatment, it is time to get a budget.
6. Budget. As a consultant, you need to know the budget. Whatever
the amount is, you should consider it flexible, depending on how much
you excite her with your decorating ideas.
Because your customer will rarely volunteer the budget, the way you
get to it is to suggest a range of investment. Then get the customer
to agree that the range is acceptable. Here’s how to do it.
• Start with the product and treatment you both agreed
on. Then make an eyeball estimate based on the size of the window.
A little experimentation and practice will make this easy for you.
It is extremely important that you do it.
• Once you have a firm budget, the opening sequence is
complete. Now is the time to bring in samples. Once you have laid
this foundation, and conducted it correctly, the sale will actually
be closed before you go for samples. Then your enthusiastic presentation
and great ideas will ice it for her, and you soon will be walking
out with a contract and down payment for a larger first sale than
ever before. Even better, you have set up a future to build for you
and your customer.
Remember, a proper opening will take up to an hour and never less
than 30 minutes. And, it almost always leads to a successful sale—or
to re-setting an appointment when conditions will be more favorable
Whether you are a sole manager who aspires to higher sales, or you manage
50 window fashion decorators in a multi-million dollar business, this series
help you manage sales better and increase your profitability. Articles are based
on Steven C. Bursten’s actual experience with sales and financial information
for hundreds of window coverings businesses. As the retired founder of Decorating
Den Interiors and author of a how-to book on new business start up, “Bootstrap
Entrepreneur,” Bursten is a leading expert in Web site and e-mail marketing
through his company, custEmers.com. Questions and comments welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (888) 333-8981.