By Gary Hudson, General Manager USA

As business owners and sales professionals, we juggle a lot. From running our business, keeping abreast with new products and trends to meeting sales quotas, we are always busy. As a result we can fall into the bad habit of “easy selling.” What is easy selling?  Anything we do that prohibits us from providing our true expertise and full knowledge to the customer. We fall into the trap of presenting what we assume the customer will want, or become order takers as opposed to consultants and problem solvers. This easy selling, order taking habit can easily be avoided!

Here are 5 simple steps to set your sales experience apart.

1. Do Your Homework- Become an expert with ALL the products in your arsenal. The ability to quickly reference specifications, features, pricing, surcharges and benefits will make you not only knowledgeable but able to quickly upsell and problem solve on the spot.

Use Case: Your customer would like to change their initial design from a center tilt rod to a clearview tilt rod. You already know there is no surcharge on clearview and can confirm no price change on the spot, giving them confidence in you and in their design decision.

2. Don’t Rush the Discovery Phase- The key to a successful shutter sale will be in the discovery phase. Take time to understand the primary purpose and driving force behind the customer’s desire to install shutters in their home.  Ask probing questions and take notes, your customers want to share their vision with you, and you will need to understand that to make them happy.

Use Case: Walk the entire home with your client, and discover if there is need for a different aesthetic or functionality from room to room. Customers will remember who took the time to understand their needs vs. who was “on a schedule” and came in and out expressing little to no interest in their needs.

3. Don’t just take an order. Offer smart recommendations- Now that you understand the customer’s needs, pull out your product knowledge and start offering options/recommendations for each room or space.

Use Case: Does your customer have a furry family friend who enjoys looking out the window? Maybe the homeowner would like to give Fluffy his own view and is worried that if he isn’t given one he will end up getting caught in the blinds and becoming a meme on Facebook. Recommend a tier-on-tier installation to allow an open shutter on the bottom section, so Fluffy can see the world, and a closed shutter on the top for privacy and energy efficiency. What’s more- you know that TWO does not add a surcharge for this feature.

4. Be a Design Expert- Functionality is very important, but design is what will bring the room together. There are a myriad of options to choose from when designing a shutter, but it must complement a space. Don’t limit yourself, or your customer to the “most common option.”

Use Case: In the past few years home builders have moved away from traditional sculpted and layered crown moldings, door jams and baseboards and have been using larger flat designs. Take this as an opportunity to offer your design expertise and suggest a transitional Beveled Z frame instead of the common old Medium Z or Crown Z frame, which doesn’t suit these new design trends.

5. Consider the details and delight your customers- The finishing touches and small accents complete the customized experience. From louver size, to custom colors, personalization and detail will set your expertise apart.

Use Case: Not every room in a home will have the same design aesthetic. While a customer might wish to maintain a specific color scheme or design aesthetic throughout the common space, the more private spaces may offer the possibility to shake things up. Creating an accent can be as easy as pale blue shutters with offset tilt bars and chrome hinges for a master bathroom, where the rest of the home maintains a standard off white finish.

With more than 30 years in the window furnishing industry, I’ve observed a very important trend: consumers who have the opportunity to engage in the design of their own shutters in an interactive manner with their sales representatives, and are almost universally more pleased with the end result. I follow these steps religiously and hope that they offer value to your business moving forward. After all, a happy customer is another marketing outlet for your business. You’re now armed with knowledge and are ready to sell. Happy Selling!

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