Here we are, almost at the end of the first quarter 2016. New start, spring has almost sprung. And yet here’s what I am STILL hearing from product companies and showrooms:

  • We had a horrible start to our first quarter.
  • We had a horrible January… February looked better..not sure about March yet.
  • Some of our territories had a great January (bad January) bad February (good February).

When I ask why they think that is, they say:

  • Oh, the economy is really bad now in the (fill in the blank for what part of the country is having a bad economy).
  • Sales process is so much slower today.
  • I don’t know, that territory has never done well.
  • And my favorite….It’s election year. Every election year, we always have slower sales.

Any of these excuses sound familiar?


These are all well-meaning, smart owners and sales people. But these showrooms, sales people and product companies continue to be held captive by every single move from politicians and and other outside influence. Is this their destiny?

Sadly, the future of some does not look bright because it seems many are still holding on to old sales methods that just do not work. Many owners try to figure out what’s wrong…

…but quite frankly, I hear many business owners and sales people suffering from “trying to figure it out fatigue” so we continue on and hope things get better.

I am not at all disputing that there are ever increasing challenges; of course there are. I talk about many of them in my presentations. We’re up against a lot. There are a lot of challenges and will be many, many more as time goes on.

But what are you willing to do to meet those challenges?

The problem with continually “riding out the storm” and waiting for outside forces to change is you get the same results. And even if you over come one, there will always be others.

Today the world changes in nano-minutes and you need to keep up or…

…you will only find your sales people (or you) working harder and getting the same darn results. I see and hear it every day in the form of…. “We’re swamped or we have never been busier”. Yet results remain unchanged or inconsistent at best.

Times have changed and so have the rules. These changes have brought a new and different market place with this new economy. Clients buying habits are now reflecting these changes but many sales forces are not keeping up.

Many showrooms and product companies are accepting the excuses of bad performances because, on the surface, they seem to make sense. Of course we have challenges. But what’s missing is addressing the core issue which is changing the way we sell to designers. I consistently observe sales people relying on decades old sales methods.

But wait… I have the answer.


I think there is something you can do and I can help. Let’s start a growth pattern, dare I say, a revolution in the way we approach our selling…Let’s understand what really drives consistent sales and make that change.

Doesn’t that sound great? Imagine no more guessing as to what the problem might be only to learn…ops that’s not it either.

No longer is show and blow a way to get sales. (what I mean by that is how many appointments you can pack into a day and how much product can you show and sample before you blow to the next one).


Product cannot remain the focus as it has in the past. For showrooms the days of “build it and they will come” are over. Buyers have way too many choices today. The new approach has to be different enough to stop having bad months, under-performing territories or sales people relying on what is an out-dated approach.

And it’s not as difficult as it may seem. It takes the right training so we can break through the old mindset. Here’s what sales people need to do:

  1. Find the right clients. Clients who have current projects where they can use your product NOW, not those who are just busy. And that has to happen BEFORE they get to the design firm.
  2. Have a plan/strategy before you even pick up that phone. Know why you are calling this designer. It’s NOT to just book an appointment.
  3. Focus on the client’s needs and upsell to work on projects. And, for inside sales people, that happens only by asking questions before jumping into the product wings.The results are sales in product lines that are typically a more “difficult” sale. Maybe one the designer does not think of you for.
  4. Ask..ask…ask and get to the CURRENT client need. Not what they LIKE what they can USE NOW.
  5. Get them what they need NOW, not in the future..(focus on that last) .
  6. Most importantly, sales people need to learn how to do this consistently to have a very strong strategic approach. They need a system. This happens when sales people and their bosses learn to learn new strategies to increase sales.

I have been in the industry 30 years and I know it inside and out. I have done interior design, outside sales and management. That’s how I know all these outdated methods..I did them all, back in the day. That’s what we knew..that’s what we did.

But as a trainer, I still continue to see sales people struggling by using the old, outdated methods I used decades ago that just no longer work. (They actually never did..we were just lucky there were less outside challenges and a strong economy for so many years)

So what can you do as a sales person, owner, manager, national?

Learn new ways to meet all of these outside forces head on and succeed at over-coming them. I have put together a system that works for showrooms and brands to develop their sales teams to have higher sales results. And they really love their jobs more, too.

How about these changes from a showroom I recently worked with:

  1. Less sales calls per week.
  2. Less sample requests.
  3. Largest increase in sales in categories that previously produced lowest results.
  4. MORE SALES ACROSS THE BOARD..every sales person from top to low performers.

It takes a change in our approach to selling. If you don’t begin to realize it’s a new world out there, and do something about it, you may struggle a lot or even die on the vine. I know I don’t want that, I love this industry and I want it to thrive. I am absolutely sure you do, too.

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

She teaches people HOW TO SELL! Deborah increased sales by 300% for one of her clients using these techniques to train their sales people.

She is a sought after keynote speaker on revolutionary new ways to Power up Your Sales NOW! and has a four part e-course based on her ebook: THE FUTURE OF SELLING TO INTERIOR DESIGNERS!

Picture this. Your sales people, after implementing this 4 part ecourse system, increase their sales from 30% – 50%? What would THAT mean to your bottom line? Click here to get that right now!

For information on booking Deborah for your next sales conference or any of her ecourse, email at or call her at 773-281-9448.