There is a big four day consumer home show coming up next week with tens of thousands of visitors and it will be my third time at the same show. We make and sell a line of residential cabinetry (but not kitchens or baths). We have a great display, a great product, and we believe in our product. We believe our pricing is fair; it might even be a touch low for what we offer (our competitors offer melamine at a slightly lower price than our wood). Our staff members at the show are neat, clean, friendly, knowledgeable, helpful, and etc. The product is well received by a lot of the public. Lots of folks have owned and/or used this product in the past and love it.
The problem is, we are not sales people. We are craftsmen. We don't know how to ask for the sale and close. Many of our sales have been from prospects visiting our showroom and asking us how to place an order!
The product purchase does require some customer selection (which options they want) so it is not as easy as selling a set of pre-packaged knives on the show floor. Also, we need to visit the job site to adapt the product (slightly) and also determine what components can be pre-assembled at the shop and what must be done on install day. (Larger pieces sometimes don't fit around tight hallways.) This visit must come before the design and manufacturing step. We currently make this a part of the selling process.
Somewhere in the process we just are not getting the leads/appointments that we need from the show. My guess is that we just are not asking the right questions of the right folks. Or, we simply are not recognizing when folks want to buy and we are not asking for the close. I've read a number of sales/marketing books over the years, but none of them seem to have real examples of what to say. They all seem to talk in generalities only. I need something more concrete. Does anyone have some actual closing lines, or series of questions that they have used that work?
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor G:
When you say "The problem is, we are not sales people" – that is your problem exactly. I don't know if you are going be able to close at the show, does your competition? Basically sales is about control, inability to close is an inability to control the prospect. You need to be able to qualify who is interested. This should be pretty easy to do. Then it is about finding the emotional reason people want to buy your product (the reason is going to be consistent with most of your customers) and pushing that reason to create want and then close the deal. The key to the above is practice, and I would get your sales people together before the show and pair up and practice until they are silver tongued charming types like myself.
I always acquired more leads from the other contractors and service providers at the shows than from the civilians that sign our follow up list. After the show, if thing go well, you will have a list of 100 or more solid leads. By the time a person listens to your pitch, looks at your portfolio, and signs the follow up list you know they are really interested. You can also get stuck talking to one person for five hours thinking you have a sure deal then have them walk over to the next booth and talk to them for five hours.
It helps that I know most materials pricing off the top of my head. I also know my shop rate so am really only estimating time. I come up with a number for materials and a number for labor. I gauge their reaction when shown these numbers. If the checkbook doesn't get whipped out I offer two things. First I explain that materials aren't marked up by me one penny (not at this point anyway). Then I offer to take off some labor money if they consider signing then - usually a 10-20% chunk. I am genuine in my initial numbers so do take a slight hit but a 15% reduced profit is better than no profit at all. Most people find this one two punch of savings too much to resist.
I bring my computer with me that contains estimating program. I collect their info, tell them to come back in five minutes, and then go over the quote. I give them the quote on letterhead that has all of my info. I've given out ten quotes at a show before. I follow up immediately after the show. That is where the closing takes place. I acquired five kitchens from the shows last year and they are more than paying for the booths.
I actually enjoy the shows. It gets us out of the shop for a few days. It's important to do your homework before you go to any show. Try to go to the show a year in advance and scope it out. In our area the cabinetmakers have cherry displays in various styles. We have paint and this sets us apart from the other guys, and people remember us when we call. It's also nice to have people with you at the shows. At times there are four of us in our booth - two granite guys and two cabinetmakers (we split the booth). Each of us can sell both products. Having extra people keeps you from talking to a person that may or may not be interested in your product while serious leads walk by.
ABC - absolutely, but you have to be subtle. It’s best to not be pushy. Talk about the weather, sports, the show, anything. People respond more to casual conversation then a sales pitch that they get at every other booth. Let them lead the conversation. If they are interested and want more info, they'll ask. I will only pitch as a last ditch. Talk to the other vendors as well.
For someone interested in a piece, I would simply tell them they can visit your showroom, or they can buy one from you at the show. Explain that it costs money to ship it back and re-install at the showroom. So in consideration of that, you are offering your showroom samples here on display, on a first-come, first-serve basis at a discount of $XXX.XX (whatever it costs you to do this - number of men, etc.). The minute you sell one, cover it over with see-through plastic and a big SOLD sign with their last name and a delivery date on it (which should be the next day so you don't have to unload it only to reload it).
The message will come across quickly to those visiting your booth. No pricing gimmick, just passing what you would save back to the customer. The important thing here is do not under any circumstance then sell it for this modified price back at your showroom.