Talk to two people selling window fashions and you will think you are talking about two different businesses. Talk to four and you can hear four different stories.
1. “Everyone in my area shops for six estimates.”
2. “My customers want something unique and personal. They seldom
shop for the lowest price.”
3. “My customers are new home buyers and can’t afford
anything except blinds.”
4. “My customers want me to decorate the entire home. My sales
are often $20,000.”
YOUR CUSTOMERS, YOUR CHOICE
It may be hard to believe, but the customers you sell to are a reflection
of the choices you make. When you begin, customers may come from
anywhere and be of any type, but the longer you are in business
the more your choices affect who you sell to.
I’ve been told, “Customers are different in my area,”
hundreds of times. Yet, I have talked to customers worldwide, from
Europe to Asia, and I can tell you customers are not different because
of the city they live in. They are different because of money and
attitudes. And, money is first.
PAIN OR PLEASURE, SHOPPER OR BUYER
If you want to sell to more customers that buy the first time without
getting a lot of estimates, then choose who you sell to by your
marketing plan. Yes, you can focus on “Best Customers”
of the type you want to sell to more often.
Remember, birds of a feather flock together. You will find the customers
you want to sell to in better neighborhoods with home values that
reflect buying values.
THE RICH ARE DIFFERENT . . .
To sell to customers you want to sell to you must be the seller
they want to buy from. “The rich are different from you and
me,” said F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby. That’s
the first thing to know.
Your best customers probably have a higher income than you. That
means that when you sell upscale customers based on your values,
you are selling too cheap. The biggest single barrier to selling
better products to better customers is the attitude of the seller.
Years ago I gave a name to this dreaded disease: Consumeritis. Get
How do you sell to better customers? Start by understanding there
are many different segments of homeowners who buy custom window
coverings. And these pesky customers move back and forth. They may
buy from a decorator for the living room and hang their own blinds
and ready-made draperies in the kid’s room. They may have a
million-dollar home, but buy fabric from a piece goods store and
take it to a workroom because they enjoy the process.
SEGMENTS AND SUB-SEGMENTS DECIDE YOUR FUTURE
It is not easy to get an overview of the market when your job is
making your sales goal this month. Right now, you don’t care
where the customers come from.
But when you have the opportunity, as I have, to work with many
different retailers, specialists and professionals, you get a big-picture
overview of the marketplace. And that working reality is exactly
what a business school professor or market researcher would tell
us: There are segments and sub-segments of customers. Each has its
own income range, home value and personal attitudes that cause its
members to buy different window products for different reasons.
FUNCTION VS. BEAUTY
The chart accompanying this article is an oversimplification to
help you understand different customer segments and their buying
patterns. The reality is more ragged and there are sub-segments
not described, but it can be a great place to start.
For example, notice the income range that buys mainly blinds and
shadings for functional light control and privacy. Then check the
higher income segment that opts for beauty and pride in home. To
be successful, the sales consultant cannot talk to both segments
the same way. Each segment has different values.
Notice the Golden Opportunity segment. There are huge numbers of
homeowners in this segment, but most sales consultants do not know
how to sell to them. The people in the segment above the Golden
Opportunity level have unlimited money to buy everything they want
the first time. Those in the segment below buy on price and function.
In neither the upper nor lower segment is relationship building
as critical as in the Golden Opportunity segment. Only those in
that segment buy progressively to make their homes beautiful as
they get the money!
To dominate the Golden Opportunity segment successfully requires
marketing procedures and a sales approach more so than selling to
other segments. Those in this segment are less concerned with getting
three estimates and are more concerned about working with someone
they trust. It is a great segment and only a few in our industry
know how to sell to it.
If you want to do a better job selling to this segment, ask for
my report, “How to Sell Concepts instead of Commodities.”
If you want more pleasure and less pain in your selling process—if
you want to sell to customers that appreciate beauty in their homes,
not just function—then learn to market and sell to those customers
in the Golden Opportunity segment. You will build great relationships
and a powerful and profitable business before you know it.
article is based on Steven C. Bursten’s actual experience with
sales and financial information working with hundreds of window coverings
businesses. 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 will help you manage sales better and increase
your profitability. Bursten is the retired founder of Decorating Den
Interiors and author of a how-to book on new business start up, “Bootstrap
Entrepreneur”, and is a leading expert in window coverings
marketing, sales systems and sales management through his company,
custEmers.com. Questions and comments welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (888) 333-8981.