SOLUTION: Oh, the joys of having your own business! The money can be great, but the headaches seem to be overwhelming at times. Let me try to offer some solutions that may shed some light on this difficult subject for all involved.
I have discovered, through past experiences, that the difficult client can become one of the most cherished in the end. Let me explain.
Imagine this scenario: The client walks through the doorway of your showroom. The first thing the salesperson sees is trouble, again. First off, a new attitude for this employee is an absolute must. He or she should greet the customer with a smile—something we all should have learned in Salesmanship 101. Then, give the client some space. Our area of selling should not present customers, especially this one, with a high-pressure experience.
The trouble client then proceeds to look around the showroom and begins complaining about a fabric or style of window treatment he or she cannot see. The salesperson asks, "May I assist you in looking for a particular item?" The client immediately answers negatively.
Here is your opportunity. Take a deep breath and really listen to what the client is trying to tell you. Does he or she seem to have trouble deciding what fabric or window treatment style they want, or do they really not know what they are looking for?
At this point I would ask the client to come sit with me at my desk and I would proceed to show him or her various colors and styles of fabric and window treatments. The answers I get will start to show me what styles and colors this client likes and dislikes. The problem with this customer might not be with the selection you have to offer in the showroom, but the fact that the client does not yet know what style and color he or she is searching for.
A catalog filled with different styles of window treatments and a book filled with various shades and tints of colors will prove very helpful. A scrapbook of previous designs you've created for other clients will show custom, one-of-a-kind treatments that cannot otherwise be sampled in your showroom. But even a simple deck of paint chips will help you and the client determine what colors he or she prefers for a particular design project you are trying to create.
I cannot stress the importance of having a book of color choices and window treatment styles close at hand in the showroom. I am not referring to catalogs of manufacturers' product. Putting together this book may involve doing some homework on behalf of the salesperson and store owner. Create a clip file filled with color swatches including various shades and tints from the full spectrum. Your window treatment styles catalog should include samples of photographs from various magazines. Be sure to identify each photograph as to the window treatment style name.
Once you have narrowed down the client's style and color preferences, you will be overwhelmed at the reaction. The client may have discovered he or she really did not have a clue as to what they were looking for. By narrowing down the choices, the trouble client now can proceed to look through samples and fabric choices. This may include full-size showroom samples, catalog samples, computer generated samples from Web sites that are accessible to the client in the showroom, and vignettes that depict various styles.
There is one challenge here! Your inventory of sample choices now may need to be revamped. What this exercise has done is to create a mental inventory for you to think about. Ask yourself, "Do I have enough choices by style and color for the client to make a solid decision?"
Remember, the trouble client can very easily run down the street and purchase from a large retailer who might not offer the design expertise you have demonstrated!
This is only one scenario for working with the difficult client. The result has provided you an opportunity to take a look at your showroom from the client's eyes. You now have created a better opportunity for meeting the client's need and that is what selling is all about!
c/o Draperies & Window Coverings
666 Dundee Rd., Ste. 807
Northbrook, IL 60062-2769
Fax: (847) 498-9299
Sharon L. Anderson has more than 20 years
experience as a professional interior designer in both commercial and residential design. She has taught at numerous colleges throughout California and currently is an educator
at Moorpark college in southern California.
She is a published author and frequent public speaker.