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Decorative showroom staff need continuous training and coaching on the sales process. With the millennial consumer being the target of most of our activities (since they have the buying power), we need to make sure that, as an industry, we are shaping our behaviors for success.
When I visit showrooms, I notice that salespeople frequently struggle with the term “luxury.” To many people, luxury refers to something unnecessary. When describing a product, it can even imply that it is unaffordable.
The truth is the term luxury has a bad rap. Using the term luxury properly when selling can help define the feeling of pleasure or a great experience — both of which should happen in your showroom, and both should happen with the products once installed in the customer’s home.
Luxury means different things to different people. Think about what gives you pleasure at home: a favorite towel, a blanket you use on the couch, a special edition whiskey or a favorite coffee you pay a little bit more for that tastes fantastic. All those products evoke luxury, and each one comes at a different price point.
Those luxury items are things you would pay a little more compared to a normal edition. Let’s take coffee as an example. You could get McDonald’s coffee every day for a dollar, but you choose to have coffee shipped to your home that you grind fresh and brew every morning.
Home delivery is more expensive and time-consuming, but you have the sensory experience of grinding the beans and smelling the coffee before and during brewing. It’s a ritual that brings you comfort and a feeling of excitement in the morning. You look forward to that part of your day; it’s a luxurious experience.
Let’s take that to the showroom. Making a customer look forward to coming to visit you is no easy task. The concept for most people is stressful; they don’t understand the process, they don’t know if you are a fit for them. And they don’t visit showrooms unless it is a necessary function of a project.
Keeping all that in mind, you should do everything you can to reduce stress for your customers. This starts on the website with photos of your team so they recognize you when they come in and photos of your showroom so they know what to expect. Add a process page that explains what usually happens when customers visit.
It sounds simple, but I challenge you to find a website that includes all this — and an online appointment tool. All these features reduce stress and make the customer look forward to visiting you.
The Luxury Mindset
Luxury is quality. That quality comes from not only the product’s functionality but also the heritage and the story behind the product, which gives an enhanced perception of quality. Take, for example, a Mercedes Benz car. If you check consumer reviews, in most cases, Honda has a more reliable track record than Mercedes. However, the heritage of German engineering and the cost of the vehicle give the perception that the German car should command a higher price.
Your showroom, if given the proper marketing of generations in business, expertise, unsurpassed service and curated brands, should command a higher price as well. You must tell the story properly and deliver on the marketing with unsurpassed services your competition wouldn’t think to offer.
That being said, do you know what your competitors are good at? And, more importantly, what they aren’t good at? Best to check with your industry friends — reps, trade customers, etc. — they can tell you.
Luxury is emotional. When you buy something of luxury, you can always stop and get something lesser in value. However, you are buying luxury because you want to feel special. You want to look forward to that item. It will make you feel prestigious. It could also be something to show off. It can also make you feel smart to have purchased something better.
Use that mindset to your advantage when selling. Ask customers how the product will make them feel once they can experience the item in their own homes. Get them to imagine owning the products fast and without pressure. Using phrases such as “I love this product because …,” or “This will look terrific when entertaining …” evoke emotion. It shows that you share the same passion for the project as they do.
For any of this to work, you must demonstrate luxury personally. You must look the part to command higher pricing. There is never any shame in being the best-dressed person in the room. Take the time to look professional.
Then go one step further. Be prepared: carry a notebook and pen, business cards and even a small microfiber cloth to wipe down a product after you handle it. It will show you care for your showroom and treat the products with respect.
You must speak of luxury. This means being soft-spoken, kind and generous in actions. Use vocabulary like “My pleasure” and “I’m happy to help you in any way.”
When you visit a good restaurant, listen to the waiter or waitress describe the specials. If your server is good, you will want to order the special because it will make you imagine the plate before your eyes. An example would be describing the special as a “perfectly prepared, dry-aged steak from grass-fed cows curated locally and served with a warm butter and wild mushroom sauce.”
Now, imagine you are selling a vanity cabinet the same way. What would you describe? Species of wood? From where? Made where? By whom? My point is if you tell the story properly, pricing becomes far less of a concern. If you have a passion for that vanity, your customers will be less inclined to go with the items they picked out online and will trust you as the person to help them make decisions.
Build Trust with Knowledge
Trust is the key to the whole process. Part of selling luxury is understanding the products mechanically — understanding form and trends so the products look good and work in the home. You certainly won’t develop trust by specifying the wrong products or sounding unsure if something works or not.
Yes, you can excuse yourself to double-check functionality with an in-house expert, but after a few times, that customer won’t feel you are competent, and your ability to drive a higher price is diminished. Work with your reps, and understand that you need to know how to install products. You also need to know how to describe it as a simple process. “A joy to install and own” is a proper way to say it.
All this comes with practice. Listen to other professional salespeople in the luxury retail space. Watch their body language. Watch customers’ body language as well as they go down the road of a purchase. All of you in the decorative showroom space are luxury salespeople. I hope this helps you realize that. If you practice every day and make changes to your behavior, look and communication skills, you can command a higher price.
Invest in training, commit to time every week to read, watch videos, listen to podcasts and look for industry training that fits your style of learning.