The Importance of Timing in Sales

by WOHe

When it comes to kitchen and bath sales, timing is clearly an
important skill. It’s not simply a matter of luck.

It may sometimes appear that a sale has been successfully closed
as the result of luck, but that’s generally not the case. There are
two problems with luck, as I see it. First off, it implies you
don’t have any control over the outcome of your interaction with a
prospect (which is nonsense); secondly, if you believe luck
controls the outcome of a sale, you tend to believe you had either
“good luck,” if you close the sale, or “bad luck” if you don’t.

That’s little more than an excuse for poor salesmanship.

In reality, successful selling has far more to do with timing
than it does with luck.
First of all, it’s clear that you must have your line in the water
if you want to be successful. My son Jeff catches more fish than I
do because he goes fishing more often. This sounds like common
sense, but in the kitchen and bath industry, it’s a big deal.

Learning to have just the right timing when it comes to your
marketing and sales effort is an acquired professional skill that’s
part instinct and part experience.

Elements of timing
Let’s examine how timing is an important part of the path to
selling success in the kitchen and bath industry.’

First, creating a consistent presence in the marketplace takes
timing and an understanding of the need for “TOMA” Top-of-Mind
Awareness among the prospects you’re trying to attract. This
doesn’t happen by luck; it’s the result of a well-designed and
well-timed marketing plan that fits your business and is specific
to your marketplace.

Timing also plays an important role when it comes to finding
prospects a process that may involve working more diligently at
home shows, following up with satisfied past clients or simply
finding new ways to increase your eye-to-eye contact with
prospects.

Once you’ve attracted a prospect, you must take maximum
advantage of the one-on-one time you’ve created through your
marketing efforts and often through a major investment.

To make the most of your first impressions, give consideration
to these words: attitude, appearance, courtesy, knowledge, empathy,
credibility and professionalism. I believe if each of these words
reflect positively on you and your business, you’re well on your
way toward success.

Throughout the sales process, you’re likely to encounter
challenges that you must overcome often through skill in timing.
One challenge lies in the fact that your initial contact time may
be very short, while first impressions to the prospect will be
long-lasting, and will either turn the prospect on or off.

These few seconds or minutes are critical, and must be used
efficiently and effectively. Luck won’t give you more time. In
contrast, a well planned and practiced greeting and a first
impression that creates trust will work wonders in prolonging your
contact.

Now you must use that time to collect information through
skilled qualifying questions to assure both you and your prospect
there’s a reason for continued contact. Should you work with a
retainer? Is this the time to present it? It’s unfortunate, but
many sales failures occur when salespeople miss the opportunity to
qualify or disqualify the prospect as early in the process as
possible. If you go too far without qualifying, you often give away
both your knowledge and precious time without the assurance of an
economic reward.

A time to learn
Your next step is to learn from the prospect everything you can, to
understand their needs, desires and expectations. Once again, the
timing for this is critical.

I often observe salespeople trying to “sell” before they fully
understand the customer and what he or she wants. This is, at best,
counter-productive. If you first don’t understand your customer’s
needs and proceed with your designing and selling, I can assure you
that the “luck” you’ll experience in developing the sale will be
all bad. Only once the customer’s needs have been developed and
understood not before is it time to create solutions that meet
those needs.

I’m making the assumption here, of course, that you have the
knowledge and design talent to accomplish this task. In reality,
there are far too many salespeople in our industry who believe they
have the knowledge and talent, but really don’t. The fact is that
today’s savvy, better-informed consumers are capable of quickly
separating the sales “pretenders” from those who have solid
credentials.

The presentation
Once your creative solutions to product, design and service needs
have been developed, it’s time to present your proposal to the
prospect proving that their needs are being addressed. It’s also
critical that at the end of your presentation, after any concerns
have been allayed, that you invite the prospect to become your
customer.

When you extend this invitation, don’t be surprised when your
prospect finds things to object to. It’s also not unusual for the
customer to ask you to meet some conditions in order for them to
agree to your offering. When they do this, the timing is also right
for you to place a condition on the prospect before you make any
agreement.

This is easily done with the statement, “If I can, will
you?”

The timing for this is critical, because if you go beyond this
point without a condition for the customer to meet, you’re headed
down an endless road of requests. Once this is done, offer again
your invitation for the prospect to accept your proposition.

Once the project is complete, don’t miss the opportunity to make
sure that every promise you made has been fulfilled. Don’t miss
this opportunity to ask your happy customer for the names of people
who potentially can become future customers. If you don’t take
advantage of this timing, you will be leaving it to luck to get
referrals.

My suggestion relative to proper timing is to take “luck” out of
the equation for success and replace it with a well-designed plan
for success. This will require a conscious effort to make sure
things are accomplished in a logical sequence.

Good timing cannot overcome a lack of other sales skills, but
it’s critical to the process of selling kitchens and baths and it
works far better than relying on blind faith and luck.

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