Warning..this blog is extremely honest!

Today I heard of yet another major showroom closing it’s doors here at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. At first, I was so sad and then got very mad. Why? Because maybe, just maybe it didn’t need to close if they had a stronger sales strategy.

Yes, I know the economy kicked the wind out of our sales (get it?). But it seems more and more companies and showrooms are still unable to admit what the real issue is and that is:

Companies invest millions in their new product, sampling, and digital sales tools to see what reps are doing, but not in training their sales force.

I know we are an industry that is built on trends and design, but if we can’t sell effectively does that matter? I also know it’s important to “know” what your sales people are doing, but are we measuring the wrong thing? How do we know if what they are doing is affecting sales results negatively or positively until it’s too late and you are WAY behind goals?

I make calls every single business day and I hear:

  • our sales are not good
  • our sales are up and down
  • we could do better
  • we are not meeting our goals
  • we are really in trouble
  • we know something is not working
  • we have to downsize or we have downsized
  • we just don’t know what to change
  • we have bad suppliers
  • we are so slow we had to cut back staff
  • we’re not getting the traffic we once got
  • we’re millions of dollars behind our goal, how do we catch up?


I could go on forever, but won’t. I am certain you get my drift. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

Break: Now, if none of this sounds familiar to you, or you are getting the exact sales results you want, then you don’t even need to read any further. However, if you find that one or more of these sound familiar to you, read on for the solution.

I also hear every day, my sales people are good, my sales staff is seasoned, my sales staff would laugh at training, they have been doing this way too long, they are really good at what they do, I don’t want to interrupt what they are doing.

And what I hear from salespeople is, we can’t get appointments, our product is too expensive, we don’t have any traffic anymore, it’s so slow, I am so swamped, but I am not achieving my goals, I just don’t get it. Again, you get my drift. It’s really hard to hear all of this.


I don’t doubt sales people are seasoned, I don’t doubt they think they are doing the best job they can, many are working enormous hours, some are getting discouraged and changing jobs or just giving up. They still have to change up what they are doing to do better if the goals are not being met, right?

I can tell you what is needed in just two little words:



Sales are the core of any business whether it’s interior design product or cars. A business is built on sales. A business is not built on new product, colors, trends, marketing, postcards, advertisements or anything else besides your sales staff and how effective they are at selling. These are all necessary and support your sales, but do not create them.

I know from going on hundreds of calls, sales people are doing what so many of us who have been in sales have done. Make appointments, show product, do a ton of follow up,get into a library to update and be seen, take someone to lunch. That’s what I did.

These now outdated skills gave us all a false sense of security when we were the only game in town. If someone wanted high-design, they came to us. That’s just not the case anymore.

Sales are just more difficult to get. Those are the facts. Those old ways were really built on a house of cards and false beliefs of what selling really needs to be. Most have not changed their ways and now we are seeing the effect.

But I can help you to change that model before it’s too late.

This business model needs to change now. Many showrooms and product companies are suffering or going out of business more and more that don’t need to. Design Centers are changing to buildings for high-tech companies. We need to change up what we are currently doing.

It’s not enough anymore to just have beautiful, trend-setting products. There’s an onslaught of new product at every single price range. So how can we be assured our product will be chosen? If we sell the same way we have always sold, we will never know. We’re leaving it up to chance.

But I can only help those who are open to change. Knowing there has to be a better way. There is. I know because I have worked and continue to work with showrooms and product companies for more than 25 years and grown sales exponentially.

Now I have honed a process and system that is easy to apply and BUILDS on what salespeople are already doing. I offer the foundation for the system in an e-course. You can read about it here.

But my message to my beloved industry is if we don’t change up what we are currently doing, we will fail. It’s happening all around us and maybe even to you as you read this. We are no longer a booming business, but we can be. No more excuses..let’s just admit that we have to work more effectively, and make our time in front of our clients’ COUNT!

Let’s stop wasting time by just showing new product, let’s begin to really find out what our clients NEED NOW, and make that time in front of a designer end up in a SALE.

It’s not about getting more lines or changing our showrooms to look better, or a ton of new product. It’s about our sales forces and how they are currently approaching sales and how their efforts are being measured. That’s it.

Another excuse I hear is, “We can’t afford training”. My question back is, can you afford NOT to train and remain status quo?

I leave you with this. Are you waiting for that magic to happen?

Deborah Flate is a change agent for product companies and showrooms that sell to interior designers. She is focused on growing top performers to impact the profitability of showrooms and product companies. She helps companies increase sales by using her SEVEN CORE PRINCIPLES OF OPTIMIZED SELLING. With more than 30 years experience as a salesperson, manager , and trainer, she teaches sales teams to maximize the time and effort in front of the client, producing higher results and to be client focused, not product focus.

You can learn more about her e-courses by logging on here or calling her @773-281-9448.