Selling in the Showroom

With a walk-in showroom, we may not always have the advantage of qualifying prospects before meeting them.

September 30, 2005

Mike Gorman
Contributing Editor

With a walk-in showroom, we may not always have the advantage of qualifying prospects before meeting them. We learn about our prospects when we visit their homes; they learn about us when they visit our showroom. We are the hosts. Treat visitors as guests.

After observing a prospect looking at different items in the store, I might say: "Hello, I'm Mike. I noticed that you were looking at the XYZ cabinets." Then I will pause and wait for a response.

"I'm just looking right now, shopping around for a new kitchen. I'm not sure what I want yet, that's why I wanted to look at what you had here," replies the prospect.

Listening to the responses, I pay particular attention to whether this person is working in a visual, auditory or sensory system. This client is working in a visual mode now: looking.

We tend to click with people more when we match their language patterns. We can communicate the same idea in different ways. Visual: "Does this look interesting?" Auditory: "Does this sound like something you would like to hear more about?" Sensory: "With more information could you get a better feeling for it?"

I respond using the visual system: "Well, you, like me, don't look like someone who settles for any old thing. It looks to me that your kitchen is very important to you, and I wouldn't create just any kitchen for you. What is your new kitchen going to look like? I will only design a kitchen that will thrill you each and every time you look at it."

Now the customer begins to describe her kitchen: "I want to have a countertop cooktop, and I need a double oven. I need to have lots of storage space for my pots and pans. I want wood cabinets, and I want the doors to the refrigerator and dishwasher to match the cabinets. I need counter space, and I'd like to have some indirect lighting. I'd like a deep sink, and I need a new disposal."

Remember, likes, wants, and needs all have their own priorities. Many salespeople regard all of these as equal. They're usually not.

As she speaks, the customer shows me exactly where all of these things are located in her kitchen by drawing diagrams in the air.

I say to her, "Let me see if I understand," then repeat her words and re-draw her diagram in the air. I am careful to use the likes, wants and needs exactly as the prospect used them.

"You've got it!" the prospect replies. "You're the first person who understands exactly what I'm looking for! You haven't even tried to talk me into something I really don't want. Do you think you can help me with my new kitchen?"

I respond, "Yes, I think I can help you with your new kitchen, because I know exactly what you are looking for. I want you to be thrilled with your new kitchen. Now let's look at a few more details so we can fill in the other pieces of this picture."

Now I make the prospect aware of the steps necessary to satisfy their need by educating them about the process. I think of this part of our meeting as "let's play pretend," when we imagine we are going to sign an agreement today. I show examples of plans, specifications, design agreements and other documents. I include payment schedules, credit application, the lead-based paint notification and right of rescission notice (where applicable.)

Show them relevant licenses and certificates of liability and worker's compensation insurance, explaining the importance of each. I explain the warranty as well as the maintenance information I will provide for their new products.

All of this information builds the belief that the prospects can trust me to guide them whenever necessary. I assist the prospects to get a clear idea of the arguments that support their choices, so they can justify their decisions to others.

Finally, I paint a mental picture of the future in visual terms: "Can you see what difference having this new kitchen will make in your life? Can you see how these products would satisfy your needs? I can see you now, preparing meals in your new kitchen, enjoying the look of the new cabinets and counters. Let's see if we can get together at the site next week. All I need is your signature on our design agreement and your deposit."

Former remodeler Mike Gorman delivers seminars and provides coaching on sales, marketing, estimating and business systems to remodelers and custom homebuilders. He can be contacted at , 800/218-5149 or

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