As long as I have been in sales, (arrgh… more than 25 years) August and September were known as NEW PRODUCT LAUNCH months. As sales people we always knew summer was a slower time, as designers and their clients were vacationing and wanted little to do with designing spaces.
But comes late August and the product would come pouring in. To sales people this was our Christmas. Clients want to make their homes ready for the holiday season. Yeah..we have a reason to call the client and can make appointments because designers did not want to see us unless we had new product to show them. (or so we always thought) So look out..load up that new product and off we go!
I even remember when I first became a sales person from being an interior designer (back in the late 80’s). I worked for a company who still had what were known as “road warriors”. These (typically men) sales people printed out their client list, loaded up the vehicle and off they went for the next three months from city to city, state to state. They would visit every darn client on that list and just barrage them with new shiny objects whether the client needed them or not (product dump). They would give lots of unqualified sampling and off to the next appointment. It was very ritualistic and was the model used for selling.
Although I was never formally trained in sales (believe it or not, you were just hired and expected to know how to sell) I observed those sales people and did what they did. Load up the cart with lots of new collections from all the product companies I represented and off to the races (or design firms). All I learned was new stuff..gotta go, gotta show and gotta give lots of sampling. That was my metric for sales success, the more sampling, the better! I mistook LIKE for USE.
And it seemed (mind you I said seemed) to work. I was considered a top sales person in my territory. But I now realize, as I have said so many times, that success was built on a false sense of security. The truth is times were completely different. We were the ONLY game in town back then. So that and the momentum of years of a growth economy produced results that seemed to have worked. Sometimes we met goal, sometimes not. And when we didn’t we had all kinds of reasons (excuses!).
Fast forward post-2009. Many product companies are still working that SAME business model. Imagine, a business model that has not changed in decades despite all the changes in the marketplace and expecting it to work.
August is still the time salespeople typically get new, giant product collections. Depending on the sales person, it could be one line or up to SEVENTY (yes, some showrooms in the design industry have that many!)
Any product company will tell you that it takes anywhere from 6 months to 1-1/2 year for a new product to gain momentum. That’s long enough, but that’s also pre-2009.
We now have more competition than ever which is reflected in new product sales timeline being even longer.
So what are the reasons?
First, and most importantly post 2009 we are no longer the only game in town. Designers and clients have learned about almost unlimited, beautiful options because not only are all your competitors bringing out enormous collections, but retail, online and many other options are now vying for that SAME CLIENT. SAME SALE.
To speed up new product launches, we have to change our focus from the PRODUCT to CLIENT NEEDS FIRST
It’s actually much easier than you think. You GIVE CLIENTS WHAT THEY NEED FIRST! It’s number 5 in my7 Core Principles of Optimized Selling that is taught in my e-course.
If you have followed my blogs you will know that I am a huge advocate of sorting out your “A” accounts. That is based on consistency of purchasing from at least ONE of your represented lines. It allows you to “lean into your business”. Clients who are loyal are far more likely to continue to have a strong relationship with both you and your products. And it’s much easier to up-sell lines they may not currently purchase because you have such a strong relationship with them.
Research shows loyal clients are 68% more likely to buy from you than ones who do not purchase consistently (loyalty).
So instead of just making those appointments to fill your calendar and get those collections out ASAP, you become a value by looking at what your clients have used in the past. Find a product that they already purchase or is similar, thank the client for their loyalty to that product and ask if they have any CURRENT PROJECTS (magic word to focus them) where they may need similar product. That’s where you bring in new product.
Before you hang up, you qualify more so that you will know EXACTLY what the client needs. You’re there to make their jobs easier by giving them LESS choices, not more. Here’s exactly how you do that including a script.
This technique works with any product from furniture to fabric to tile to faucets.
Once you meet that need, you can go over any other new product collections. But you leave CLOSER to a sale, instead of doing a “product dump” and not knowing FOR SURE that the client will eventually buy anything. In addition, you are selling product from a NEW COLLECTION causing a faster launch.
I am an industry insider and an expert in selling in the A&D product industry. I have 30 years of experience in sales and management with high-end showrooms and product companies. I help companies build successful sales teams by maximizing salespeople’s time and resources. It’s straight-forward and easy to follow (no retrofit from a program designed for other types of businesses)
Keep reading my blogs for more tips. Or better yet, email me @firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a time to chat about these.
I work in many different ways. My e-course, (read about it here) is a great way to POWER UP YOUR SALES NOW!!, one on one, very affordable coaching packages and a do-it-yourself pre-recorded video package. All live venues are totally customized to your needs, but all are based on the 7 core principles for reaching optimal sales performance.