Many kitchen and bath salespeople today don’t consider
themselves salespeople at all. Rather, they think of themselves as
being consultants, advisors, designers and technical people. And, I
guess, that’s more-or-less true. At the most recent K/BIS, I had
people telling me that they could do better if they could just be
more clever and creative when marketing their products, or learn
how to close. Well, maybe. Or maybe not.
I’ve been doing sales and marketing most of my adult life, and
it’s amazing how things have changed throughout the years. Most
readers of this column are too young to remember the real sales and
marketing gurus of earlier days. J. Douglas Edwards. Cavett Robert.
Zig Ziglar. Following them, people like Tom Hopkins, David Sandler,
Hank Trisler and Joe Girard were hot.
Once they got a foothold, hundreds, if not thousands more,
followed, thinking they could be gurus. They took up the task of
teaching people how to market and sell. Everybody had different
theories, different strategies and different techniques for
marketing products and services and closing the sale.
Listening to these sales and marketing superstars during
conventions, sales meetings and seminars was like going to a
revival meeting. These coaches told us we needed a system. With
these systems, they told us, you had to do a lot of things, like
presenting, qualifying, listening and managing your time.’
Next, you had to ask the right questions: questions with names
like standard tie-down, tag-on-tie down, open, closed, leading and
Then, after that, you had to learn to close. And that wasn’t
easy, either. These disciples of sales gospel stated that you
needed an arsenal of closes.
And that was just the beginning. You then had to learn to market
yourself with slick direct mail, referral selling and
Kitchen and bath dealers didn’t always have to work on marketing
strategies to get the sale. What worked 20 or 30 years ago is far
different from today’s approach.
Deceptive advertising and hammering the customer worked in the
’70s and ’80s. I know. I was there.
We could find more customers and slam-dunk them into buying
something they didn’t need or want faster than you could say
“Whatcha-think-wanna-get-it?” It was an era to behold. We were
slick, crafty and full of ourselves. Customers shook from fear.
They just pulled out their wallets and we took what we needed. Sort
But times have changed. Those days are over. Try enticing
customers with a slick marketing ploy or selling a kitchen or bath
that way nowadays and you’ll go broke. It doesn’t work today, and
if you try to use anything that smacks of devious advertising or a
canned close, or put somebody else’s words into your mouth, you’re
going to sound stupid. Customers not only won’t buy, they’ll
Today, selling kitchens and baths takes advertising with
integrity, using personality, having some product smarts, selling
something you really believe in, honesty and a decent amount of
persistence. Find out what works for you and try to capitalize on
it. Practice getting customers to smile. Advertise features and
benefits and why you are different than anyone else in your field.
Of course, you have to close, too. That’s not going away. But the
trite closes of the past don’t work any more. You have to have the
guts to ask people to buy, and you have to do it
Many people just won’t jump at the chance to buy a new kitchen or
bathroom installation for their home. Smart marketing brings them
in, but even though it’s what they want at the right price, they
still have to be helped along a little. When someone decides that
it’s time to make a decision, even after weeks or months of specs,
plans and estimates, he or she still might hesitate a little when
it comes to spending tens of thousands of dollars.’
Still, getting the customer to make the purchase today can be
easier than you think. Here are few ways to ask people to buy:Would
you like to get it?
- Okay with you?
- Wouldn’t you just love this in your home?
- Can we write it up?
- You’re going to love it. How soon would you like it?
- Would you like to pay cash, or put it on a contract?
I know, I know, that may seem a little too easy. But sales and
marketing are no longer difficult. With some clever marketing and a
little tweaking of your skills, your sales could increase
significantly. Don’t be afraid to ask. And don’t be afraid to let
your personality shine through.
J. Douglas Edwards said, “Selling is the lowest-paid easy
profession, and the highest-paid hard profession in the whole
world.” Not true. It can be the highest-paid, easy profession if
you adapt your own skills, tweak your personality and develop some
sales smarts. And taking those sales smarts to another level starts
by knowing kitchens and baths inside out, believing in your
company, finding ways to get more prospects through the door,
getting a customer to like you, finding a need and filling it, and
simply having enough nerve to ask them to buy.’
I’ll tell you what: Test out a few salespeople on your own. Shop
for a car. Ask about insurance. Go out to a couple of houses and
see how the real estate people try to get you to buy. If someone
says, “Let’s see what old Ben Franklin would do,” then they take
out a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle, and ask you to
list all the reasons you would like it versus all the reasons you
don’t think you want it, chances are they sold in the ’70s. Just
tear the piece of paper into little pieces and leave it on the
table. And, tell them to get a life.
Selling today takes some marketing smarts, a little tact, a
little nerve and a little persistence, together with integrity and
a certain amount of personality. I never thought it could be this
Bob Popyk is publisher of Creative Selling’, a monthly
newsletter on sales and marketing strategies. He is the author of
the book, How to Increase Your Kitchen & Bath Business by
25%Starting Next Week!, available through the National Kitchen and
Bath Association, and is a speaker at various industry events,
including the National Kitchen & Bath Conference. For a free
sample of his newsletter, call (800) 724-9700 or visit his Web site