I want five appointments a day. My customers are busy people in a hurry to get kids to the dentist, get back to work, and get on with their lives.”
“When someone calls me for cellular shades or new shutters,
my job is to take them the different qualities, tell them the benefits
of each, and why one is priced more than the other. I don’t
want to get into the color and aesthetics thing.”
want to get in, measure the windows, give an estimate, close a sale
and get out. Sometimes I tell her to look at the samples while I take
“I once got in and out in
18 minutes flat. I hate to waste time talking when I can be on the
road to the next customer.”
In the last 15 to 20 years new alternative products of blinds, shadings
and shutters have taken the country by storm. Now, some 60 percent
of all window coverings sales are alternative products, rather than
draperies. The result is to spawn an entire new way of selling. A
way where functional privacy and light control are priority, and speed
in selling is the watchword. The new selling style elevates pricing
as the main difference on branded products that can be purchased by
catalog, over the Internet or in massive home improvement centers.
Yes, window products have changed. And the style of selling has changed.
But customers are much the same. Sure, there are more time-starved
professionals, but there are many more things that today’s homeowners
share with counterparts 20 years ago. Start with pride in home, aspiration
for a better lifestyle, pleasure of working with professionals who
know their business, and willingness to spend more money when they
are sold correctly. These verities are timeless.
There are new choices for blinds sellers. With a booming market for
blinds, finding customers for shop-at-home appointments has been easy
in recent years. This year, it is not so easy. In the past, some salespeople
would average more than 100 appointments a month. Did they sell more
than those who went on 50, or even 30 appointments a month? No, they
I first studied this seeming contradiction more than 20 years ago
in Kenosha, WI, with Dan and Phyllis Martino. Dan was a dry cleaner
and an excellent businessman. Phyllis was a terrific decorator. She
sold more window coverings part-time than most did full-time. We ran
the numbers for their three decorators. Guess what we found? When
appointments went over 35 a month, sales did not increase! I have
rechecked that research several times over the years. The result is
always the same. You actually can sell more with fewer appointments,
when the process is correct.
I began sharing this idea with blinds sellers some two years ago.
No one listened. Now, guess what? With more competitors than ever,
with advertising costing more, with fewer leads at higher costs, a
few are starting to listen. And why not? If you go on five appointments
a day for 22 working days a month, you see 110 clients. With a typical
closing rate of about 65 percent and average sale of about $850, the
result is about $60,000 a month, or about $720,000 a year. Not bad.
But most of us know someone who goes on fewer than half that number
of appointments and sells the same. I know a few salespeople who go
on one-third as many appointments and sell more than $1 million a
ADVERTISING COST AND
COMPETITION FORCE NEW THINKING
With every appointment more precious, and with more competitors selling
the same branded products, some blinds dealers are looking at new
ways to work with customers. The need is to increase closing rates
and average size of sale. The goal is to sell more dollars, but with
fewer appointments. Sounds impossible. But it isn’t.
The formula is tried and true. Jo Ann Brezette and I developed the
same ideas independently years ago. She does it better than anyone
in the world. I can give you the philosophy. She will give you the
exact words and examples. For today, let’s stick to the philosophy.
The philosophy needed to help you sell more on every appointment is
simply to make-a-friend!
Yep, that’s it. There isn’t much more. But doing it takes
time, a set procedure and a paradigm shift in thinking.
To sell more products for more dollars without cutting price to meet
competition takes a new way to think about the selling interview.
It takes a structured procedure that begins with Step One: recognizing
that the selling process actually begins with a phone call to make
a friend before going on the appointment.
It moves into the psychologically critical Step Two as you arrive
at the home and enter the room where window products are needed. Step
Three is a house tour to “get into the customer’s head”
as a class attendee said recently. Step Four uses a presentation book
to build credibility and value.
Step Five requires a checklist to assure conditions are right for
the customer to make a buying decision today. It takes new thinking
in Step Six to select products and window treatment styling before
bringing in samples and before measuring. Then, when the product is
known, Step Seven includes obtaining a budget range to get a reaction
from the customer.
Finally, with a tie-down question to be sure there are no other obstacles,
the buying decision is completed. Only then do you bring samples for
the customer to view and later take measurements for final pricing.
The result: More sales on fewer appointments.
The result of a planned and structured sales presentation is to raise
the average sale to a level over $1,500 for a blinds and alternative
products business, and to more than $2,000 for a business about equally
balanced with soft and hard products. Even better, pricing becomes
a non-issue much of the time, allowing much higher gross margins.
If you are tired of competition forcing you to drop your prices, if
you don’t like the high cost of advertising to get appointments,
if you want to bring back the timeless pleasure of selling better
products to better customers, try slowing down not speeding up. Try
making a friend on the phone so customers greet you with a hug at
the doorway. Then you’ll know you have the idea . . . and your
bank account will show you the difference.
is based on Steven C. Bursten’s actual experience 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: steveb@custe mers.com or call (888) 333-8981.