I get many of my ideas for this column as I travel around and
talk with people in the kitchen and bath industry. When I attended
the National Home Builders Show in Atlanta in early February, a
discussion with other industry salespeople sparked an interest in
examining the concept of “soft selling.” At the time, I felt
confident that I would be able to develop this idea, and feel
comfortable with the outcome.’
After going through my usual routine of gathering and organizing
my thoughts a process I go through each time I sit down to write
about a particular topic I created a rough outline, feeling good
about my progress. When I sat down at my computer to write,
however, something seemed wrong. Every step of the development
process was harder to make. After a few hundred words, I printed it
out to try and get a handle on the problem. While it read pretty
well, something was definitely amiss.’
Then it hit me. What I was trying to develop wasn’t my selling
style. It wasn’t me. It isn’t the way I sell, and it isn’t the way
I teach selling skills. The soft selling style that we discussed in
Atlanta may work for others, but I don’t think it’s the best way to
take advantage of selling opportunities and not believing in this,
I knew I could not effectively “sell” the idea to others.’
After my realization, I scrapped the “soft selling’ article and
started over, trying to write a story that would more closely
mirror my own beliefs about selling, and the selling style that I
am most comfortable with. I didn’t want to call it “hard selling,”
because the phrase alone conjures up images of pushy selling
tactics that could be construed as unfair, or at the very least,
uncomfortable. For sure, that isn’t my selling style, either.
But when I thought about it, I realized that if I had to define
my selling style, I would say that it could best be labeled as
“Selling hard” revolves around the development of selling skills
and employment of them in selling opportunities and not giving up.
Selling hard means that you have a positive attitude that you
believe that you will successfully close the sale with the next
prospect you encounter. Selling hard means you’ll use all of the
sales tools available to you to develop sales that fulfill
customers’ real needs, wants and desires at the right investment
for them and appropriate profit for you and your company.’
As I criss cross this country, sales designers report that
there’s extreme competition everywhere. I believe that, in almost
all markets, there’s a war going on, with everyone trying to grab
what they believe is their market share. Clear lines of
distribution are gone. There’s no level or market that’s protected
anymore. This is why I couldn’t feel comfortable developing the
“soft selling” title. We need to use all our sales artillery to win
our marketing war.’
You should always aggressively market your products and services to
assure that qualifying prospects in your market know who you are,
what you offer and how to find you. A few ways to remain aggressive
is to search for prospects at home shows and designer showcase
homes. Networking within your market is a key tactic.
Skillful and complete questioning of prospects to develop both
their known and hidden needs, while at same time evaluating if they
fit your prerequisites for potential customers, is also a part of
Another part of selling hard is identifying potential customers
who will give you fits later on. Disqualify them now and let them
do business with your competition. Let this type of consumer
paralyze your competitors’ operation and steal their emotions and
Selling hard is also knowing your products and services, and how
ownership of their features will be of benefit to your prospective
customer. This takes effort on your part, to raise your knowledge
to a level so high that you’ll be viewed as an industry expert, the
creative one, the professional kitchen/bath sales/design person who
people seek out when they want it done right.
Investing time and talent into the presentation of the solutions
you’ve designed to satisfy prospects’ needs is also an element of
this type of sell. Your presentation must prove the benefits to be
gained by your clients’ investment. This presentation needs to show
fair value, and be attractive enough for the customer to say yes to
When your customers tells you your price is too high, they want
to think it over or they want to run around and get more quotes,
don’t give up. Selling hard is being prepared for these rejections
and any other common objections you hear. Selling hard means
developing your defense to these typical objections before they
You can do this by altering your sales development to
accommodate overcoming the expected objections.
Probably the most difficult aspect of selling hard is delivering
on the expectations you built up in the development of the sale.
While delivering on the commitments you made will result in a happy
customer, delivering on those expectations plus one extra thing is
an important part of selling hard.’
Therefore, not only will you have earned a happy customer for
life, this will act as an investment in creating your next sales
opportunity. Your next opportunity may come as a direct referral or
indirectly from the positive comments made by satisfied customers
to their friends, coworkers and the like.
Additionally, people who sell hard practice the
- Being on time for business appointments.
- Returning phone calls in a timely manner.’
- Having quotes available in a timely manner.
- Controlling the sales process.
- Paying attention to detail.
- Ensuring accuracy.
- Communicating if any expected time line will not be met.
- Providing attention and quick resolutions or answers to any
concerns or problems, and follow-up to assure satisfaction and to
maximize opportunity for referrals.
There is no end to “selling hard” because, when done correctly,
your selling hard efforts will build new selling opportunities, and
the process will feed itself. “Selling hard” not only maximizes
your selling opportunities, but provides the customer with the best