One of the most common questions I am asked is what is the most effective closing technique? I used to say, you close from the moment you enter the designer’s office. Although I still think that is true, I also know closing starts when you find out what the needs of that client are, which should begin even before you call for an appointment.

It’s simple, without a need, there is no sale.

The current method is showing a lots of new and beautiful product, the designer asking for samples and that defines, in many sales peoples’ minds, the need. If they are asking for samples, they MUST need it for something, right? Wrong! This way of presenting is the result of decades of showing that way and the designers’ expectations!

But how does this make a sale? Let’s get real! This is what it really produces.


Or some sales people may even ask if the designer is busy. They that must mean they have lots of needs which then equal sales.

I am sorry to burst your bubble, but busy and samples do nothing to find out if what their NEEDS are or what they will purchase. Most importantly, do their current NEEDS match your PRODUCT?

There are plenty of companies and design firms that are incredibly busy, but the needs don’t match the product you have at that time, no matter how much product you may show or they may request.

So getting closer to needs and matching that with product you sell is the best closing technique there is in the sales world.

Then what’s the best way to find out what the needs are?

Asking relevant questions, continuing to dig deeper and making sure your client knows it’s in their best interest to not waste a lot of their precious time showing things that may never be relevant to them. Helping them by finding out what they currently need is how to really form that relationship. They see your function quite differently and to THEIR advantage.

My experience, when observing sales people, is they ask a few questions but do not ask more to really qualify what the designer really needs (not use). When asking a client what their lighting needs are is vague and produces nothing at all except giving them your lighting binder. To ask if they are currently working on a project that requires table lamps and then digging deeper to see what that may look like and you might have is getting MUCH closer to a SALE!!

Sales people need to focus on being the solution, not giving designers MORE to do. Having a designer figure out where they can use that beautiful fabric, furniture, lighting or whatever product you happen to be piling in front of them and they happen to like, without knowing exactly what they will use it for, is leaving all up to chance. You’d probably have more luck with a lottery ticket to make money.

My method of training sales people is to start to understand the clients’ past history of purchasing and build on that. Facts of the clients’ buying habits beat out guessing every time!

But don’t panic…yes you can show all that beautiful, new product…just ask first, show later!

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 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! You can download the ebook it at and sign up at the top of the page.

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