What does the future hold for product companies or showrooms that want to sell to interior designers?

Would you be surprised if I predicted that the future could be pretty bad for some of these companies?  But for others, there is still every chance that the future could be bright?

We have witnessed that, first hand, in the last 18 months.  Donghia, Dessin Fournir, Robert Allen/Duralee, J. Robert Scott.  Who is next and what do we need to do differently as an industry?

We have to realize the way that interior designers do business today has changed. If we try to continue to sell to them (in the same outdated way that salespeople have always sold to designers for decades), then our future business is likely to turn out very badly. But, if we decide to take a different approach to how we currently sell – well then, the future could be much brighter indeed.

Maybe we should start by making a list of what has not changed?  Well, that would be almost nothing, but a big one this time COVID.

So, what is coming from these changes?

  1. Competition is fierce. More companies are now out there vying for the same sales.
  2. More customers are doing online research (and if they are looking for you, they might well come across your competitor).
  3. One keyword…RETAIL! Don’t believe me? Check out Restoration Hardware on Chicago’s Gold Coast as an example – and who are now even opening in Paris and London. And if that’s not enough, they are launching a cruise line.
  4. There are now more products from which to choose – even more than anyone could ever need to use.
  5. Designers are now much less likely to choose existing products from the library.
  6. Designers also have more work to do. They don’t have time or see the value in meeting with reps who want to show the designer new products they cannot use right now.
  7. It’s hard to get and keep meaningful sales appointments.

There are even more reasons than I’ve listed, but you get the picture.  Too much is left to chance.

Last year I was at a large design firm.  On their bookshelves, they had every single leather  ‘company’s sample box.  Even ones which I had not known.  I asked the designer: “How in the world do you select from that wall of samples”?”

Her answer?  She said she’ didn’t.  She would ask another designer, who they work with, for a suggestion, and only then would she go to that box.’ that’s a true story!  That makes for odds that even Vegas’ wants.

So, is it all doom and gloom?  Not at all.  But the answer is we have to change our approach to sales.

That old method – of showing up and showing another collection, another binder, another chair, another collection of anything – no longer works.  I call this the “flip show. “‘making the designer’s work more tedious! You’re making them work to “find” a use for your product.

If you are showing a designer something, they cannot use

– no matter how much business they have, how many letters in their name, or how many times they have topped the Interior Design top 100 – you don’t have a sale!

And if you think Zoom has changed this dynamic, it has not.  The only difference is when designers get tired of your presentation, they put their avatar up.  They are not paying attention.

At first, it was excellent and so efficient and effective, but just like in person presentations, designers pay little attention to things they don’t need, they just don’t have an avatar to put up.

And did you know that research shows only 10% of salespeople have top-notch skills?  80% are mediocre.  10% should not even be in sales. (Tas Force survey of 100 sales companies).

So, what is the antidote to those meaningless ancient techniques?

Be entirely client-focused.  That means a total focus on the client’s NEEDS. Without a need, there is no sale!

Now, this doesn’t mean just knowing the client and doing tons of meaningless follow-up work (the 50% or more of that type of activity does not end up in a sale).  It means to find out precisely what the client needs at that exact moment – when you are there!  Make their job easy. ‘That’s client focus.

For example, you could walk into the design office with nothing other than a pad of paper and a pen and sit down. Ask: “What can I help you with today“?  Just watch the reaction!

I know it may sound a little odd, but it works.

There’ll always be time to show new collections. But if you do this ONE thing on your sales calls, I guarantee you will increase your sales! ‘Isn’t that the result you want?

I recently gave my e-course to Kravet, Atlanta. One of their top salespeople said – with just this one simple technique:

This technique just opened the floodgates to sales.  It works

And now this showroom is on target to have an unprecedented year in sales.

Increasing their furniture and carpet sales achieved by using the techniques I now teach!

With the owner saying, “You helped me succeed.”

Deborah Flate, the founder of Dialogue Consulting, has trained hundreds of salespeople in the interior design industry after her own sales career with high-end product companies and showrooms. 

She most recently increased sales by 32% for one of her clients when using these powerful sales techniques.

She is a sought-after keynote speaker on revolutionary new ways to Power up Your Sales NOW!

She also has a four-part e-course based on her e-book: 10 proven strategies that will POWER UP YOUR SALES NOW!

For information on booking Deborah for your next sales conference or her e-course, email at deborah@dialogue-consulting.com or call her at 773-281