In early June the movie “Sex and the City” whipped “Indiana Jones” at the box office by a whopping $10 million, and at nearly $57 million became the top opening romantic comedy of all time. It opened to an eagerly waiting female fan base that has a huge message for all us in the window coverings industry: Emotion can be worth 100 times the value of function. You can buy a serviceable handbag for $40. Yet a Louis Vuitton may be $4,000 and, for many, affordable only to rent by the week.
When you see this movie—and, guys, you will see this movie if you’re smart—look past the entertaining story of romance to the power of designer clothing and its impact on women. Watch four stars and their quest for fabulous clothing . . . and watch the reaction of women in the audience. Experience the delight and excitement in their faces as the colorful parade of fashion streams down the runway. This is your customer you’re watching!
WOMEN ARE POWERFUL
In our industry it is an obvious truth, not profiling, but fact: Women sell draperies and men sell blinds. Why? The answer is simple. You already know it: Blinds and shadings are functional first and decorative second. Draperies are decorative first, and functional second. An experienced window styling designer can use color, pattern and texture in fabric to create a one-of-a-kind unique design with custom swags, trims, tassels, buttons and tie-backs that may never be reproduced exactly the same anywhere in the world.
To men, ho-hum. To women, seeking quality, beauty and fashionable stylings in her home is a natural thing that powers her decisions and men rarely grasp that. So, who is our customer? Women!
Guys, it is time to look at the side of the bread your butter is on. Gals, it is time to stop thinking about your budget and start thinking about the dreams of your customer. Customers have more money than consultants. That is why we are selling and they are buying. Few window styling designers can afford the products we sell to homeowners every day.
LATENT DESIRE FUELS THE FLAME OF EMOTION
After watching “Sex and the City” my wife, Valerie, and I thought about the designer fashions and driving desires of women to have something unique and special. We suspect that for young women, clothing beyond their budget is a part of the generational passage to marriage and family. Mature women have more money to afford style. They can dress to fit in with peers and to project their status in a social world.
Then, we asked ourselves, how does this apply to window design and sales? We concluded the exact drives apply whether for clothing or for the home. Not for every woman, but for that segment who takes pride in their homes, who have family and friends for dinner; who value their homes as a refuge, a happy place to feel comfortable and satisfied. For these women the desire for beauty and uniqueness is driven by need for good feelings in their surroundings, for social acceptance and recognition.
But, that need may be hidden under layers of the shopper’s habits to use coupons and find the best price on generic toilet paper. It may be suppressed by the man in her life who doesn’t value pleasurable, artistic surroundings—the man doesn’t spend hours in the home and only cares about the wide-screen TV. Her feelings and dreams for beauty may be right under the surface. She may need a skilled practitioner to strip away layers, expose those feelings hold them up to the light, and give her permission to express how she feels by making her home more beautiful with exquisite, personal, custom window treatments.
VALERIE’S FIRST SALE
As we thought and reminisced, Valerie remembered her first sale more than 25 years ago. It was to a young lawyer, just starting her career. She could have shopped and saved money, but she liked Valerie and her ideas. She told Valerie, “I want something that welcomes me when I come home, something that makes me feel good.” Feeling good is what it is all about. Feeling good is not functional; it’s emotional. The desire to feel good about her surroundings was natural to the first cave women who hammered a bear skin to her rocky wall. It was common when Valerie made her first sale a quarter century ago, and it is fundamental for your customers today.
It is natural for the junior consultant to assume that window coverings are about price and competition. If you don’t have money yourself, price dominates your mind. If you have little experience, then price means everything. But, the more you can educate yourself and your customer about beauty, the more you will win the big sale. You need to dig beneath the surface and expose the natural, latent feelings of women to experience pride, personal satisfaction, recognition and admiration of her friends.
When you learn to do that, you will succeed selling window coverings. You will join the professionals as you move from selling $1,200 for simple privacy and light control to averaging more than $4,000 per customer with attractive, decorative ideas that fulfill the emotional needs of every woman. You will find women who will pay many times the value of function in audiences at your local theatre watching “Sex and the City.” Even better, you will find one in the next home you visit for a sale. It’s up to you to sell emotion and make every sale a great sale.
This 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.