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. 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 concept is a big part of my sales program because salespeople are still doing a product dump on almost every call. Worse yet, their managers are actually asking them to do this, so they feel obligated to show as much product as possible, and that’s what they do.

Worse yet, many of their sales managers believe in this old tactic that does not keep up with today’s trends of effective sales techniques.  We are in an unprecedented time now, and new needs are getting baked in! Sales will never get back to what we used to do.  And I say thank goodness! Because they really never worked efficiently. Toom many salespeople did not have control over their sales and income.

Changing the way salespeople have done things for years and years is not easy. It’s a genuinely evolving culture of a business. But the results are even worse, as indicated in the graphic above.  Companies I speak with daily say sales are still suffering even though they thought the economy would bring them back to pre-2008.  Not even close!

And, of course, iconic companies are declaring now forced to declare bankruptcy. Now we have the ultimate uncertainty called COVID.  This pandemic will change business, as we know it, permanently even post-COVID.

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 what I was doing, why it was no longer working and what I needed to change.

Pre-2008 my experience was relevant, and contacts from years of being in the industry met with great results; my deep knowledge of this industry was enough!   So I just continued to sell that way by calling, letters, marketing, cute marketing give-aways more & more time and energy spent then I want to admit.  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, the ROI from my efforts was extremely low.

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 significant design market in the country and loved it. I went to trade conferences to tell my contacts what I 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, will just let you guess, but I think it’s sufficient to say I had a couple of 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 surely something will stick!  It felt good, comfortable, and right! I formed my comfort rut!

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

So these are the things I changed

  1. I started finding out what prospects NEEDED by asking the correct open-ended questions that would allow me to get to their needs. It’s what one of my coaches calls a strategy session. 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 develop the SOLUTIONS of how I could provide value to them and quickly turn them 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 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 kill a deal! Remember, confused minds don’t buy)
  4. I positioned myself as an expert in the design industry for business development and sales training because of my involvement with the industry for more than 25 years and its results.
  5. Being open to new ideas. Learning every single day!  Realizing that I could learn new ways, too.  Keeping up with the times and trends in the industry.
  6. Looking toward the future, not what USED to work.
  7. It was working with amazing coaches that are objective and can see what I may not. And I 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 salespeople, my 18 years of working in sales, 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 the future’s interior design!

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 20 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 increase sales dramatically.  She has spoken at NeoCon, IIDEX, IIFMA, Brentano, Innovations, and many other venues.

She now has a 4 part sales course called: Mindful Selling Master Class: 7 Core Principles to Accelerate anyone’s sales.

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.