HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO INCREASE SALES (clue-not more product!)

I am so excited to hear that more and more people are talking about providing solutions vs. just talking to our clients. I signed up for an online sales summit comprised of top business leaders in industries like IT, insurance, financial, marketing and sales and so many were speaking about selling solutions, not product or services.

One of the speakers used the term “product dump” when speaking about selling, which is what I have called the “flip show” (showing everything on a sales call). Focusing on WHAT you have instead of finding out WHAT the clients’ needs are. This is a big part of my sales training , because sales people are still doing doing a product dump on almost every single call. They feel obligated and that’s what they are trained to do.

Changing the way sales people have done things for years and years is not easy. But the results are even worse as indicated in the graphic above. And companies, who I speak with on a daily basis are saying sales are still suffering even though they thought the economy would bring them back to pre-2008. Not even close!

Let me illustrate this point with my own business story. Even though I sell services now, the approach and results were still the same.

In 2008, my business came to a sudden crash from the fear of the economy. I was not getting clients in the same way as before, so I decided to take a step back and analyze exactly what I was doing, why it was no longer working and what I needed to change.

Pre-2008 my experience, my contacts from years of being in the industry with some great results, my deep knowledge of this industry were enough! People hired me! So I just continued to sell that way with new techniqes..networking, calling, letters, marketing, cute marketing give-aways..more & more time and energy spent then I want to admit to. But I thought that was going to get me business. I thought I just needed to be in front of them more often and voila..they would hire me.

While the step back gave different things to fill up my time, I was not quite there yet!

Because yes, I did get meetings (lots of them) gave webinars (lots of them) and even wrote proposals (lots of them). Traveled and spoke at every major design market in the country and loved it. Went to trade conference to tell my contacts what was doing now! I thought I was doing GREAT!! (very similar to the way I felt when I product dumped by showing everything to designers for 18 years..busy..busy..busy!)

RESULTS of all this product dumping? Hmmm..I will just let you guess, but I think it’s sufficient to say I had a couple very lean years!

Then the magic came. It was my MINDSET which drove my behavior. I, just like many, had to change my focus from ME to THEM. But I had been in a mindset that was resistant to change because this is the way I thought marketing worked and what I needed to do to “get that elusive sale”. TELL them more..more..more. be everything to everyone and surly something will stick! It felt good, comfortable and right! I formed my own comfort rut!

The sad thing is, I realize now there was business out there..I just did not realize my own approach,mindset and behavior had to change. Just what I teach sales people today.

So these are the things I changed:

  1. I started finding out what prospects NEEDED by asking a ton of open ended questions and wrote copious notes that I could refer to. It’s what one of my coaches calls a strategy session. Really focusing and digging to get to what they believe their CURRENT needs are. (and not what I THOUGHT or even KNEW they needed… didn’t get me hired!)
  2. I could then come up with the SOLUTIONS of how I could provide value to them and could easily articulate that to the potential client. I answered their needs and the reception was completely different than before. These became serious prospects..not just tire kickers..
  3. Even if I felt they really needed other things, it didn’t matter. That’s not what they were currently focusing on and it just gums up a sale. (you can oversell and actually kill a sale! Remember, confused minds don’t buy)
  4. Positioned myself as an expert to the design industry for business development and sales training because of my involvement with the industry for more that 25 years and results I had.
  5. Being open to new ideas. Learning every single day! Realizing that I could learn new ways, too. Keeping up with the times.
  6. Looking toward the future, not what USED to work.
  7. Working with amazing coaches that are objective and can see what I may not. and…got a working strategy and a shift of mind.

And the result? Again, I will let you guess…but since the changes, no more lean years for me!

And now I bring that to all of you in the interior design field. It’s what I now know and what I teach. I’ve learned from, training hundreds of sales people, my 18 years of working for showrooms, being a manager and national sales director. It’s all of that. But the mindset and embracing change (which is not always easy) will fortify your sales and bring you into a “new approach” of interior design of the future!

Deborah Flate started Dialogue Consulting with a vision to make to-the-trade product companies overcome any obstacle that hits them. And with her 25+ years in the industry including the 14 years owning her own business focusing on training, marketing and branding she has achieved that vision.

She has been a sought after keynote speaker delivering clear, innovative and powerful techniques to dramatically increase sales. She has spoken at NeoCon, IIDEX, IIFMA, Brentano, Innovations as well as many other venues.

She now has a four part sales e-course based on her ebook: 10 proven strategies that will POWER UP YOUR SALES NOW! You can download the ebook it at and sign up at the top of the page.

If you want more information on how to Power Up Your Sales NOW, she offers sales training or speaking at your next sales meeting. Her focus is on product companies or showrooms selling to the trade.

To find out how she can help your or your company, call at 773-281-9448, or email at or fill out this contact form for a complimentary strategy session to see if there’s are a fit and how she can help you increase sales.