Relationship Selling in the Digital Age

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Relationship Selling in the Digital Age

In a world of Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat and Instagram, HD touchscreens, video conferencing, virtual reality and streaming video, digital communication threatens to take over how businesses communicate and interact with their prospects

This increased use of technology, paired with changing demographics and digitally knowledgeable consumers, is reshaping the kitchen and bath market.

The number of homeowners researching products and services online has caused a major shift in consumer shopping. And, at the same time, an ever-growing assortment of digital tools is changing both the size and function of showrooms.  The way kitchen designers demonstrate products and the way they transact sales is forever changed, thanks to wireless access through smart phones, tablets and PCs.

It seems like the wave of new digital products is endless. Not only is what consumers want constantly evolving, but so is their lifestyles, family make-ups and buying trends.

But even in this changeable, changing environment, some traditional selling strategies remain constant in the kitchen and bath business. Design professionals can’t afford to become so enamored with – or dependent upon – technology that they forget how to turn prospects into customers

It’s critical that you and your staff never lose sight of the effectiveness of a human-to-human, handshake-to-handshake, relationship-selling strategy. It can be all too easy to get caught up in learning and using all the digital tools and then allow them to replace proven sales techniques.

The State of Sales Survey done by LinkedIn in 2017 reports that the #1 contributing factor in making a purchase decision is if a buyer has TRUST in the salesperson.

People do business with people, not with computers, not with companies.

Online shopping, while helpful in educating prospects, doesn’t really prepare them to make purchase decisions.

Buying a new kitchen or bath has always been an emotional and sometimes painful purchase. People need to see, touch, feel, compare and discuss products and design ideas.

More importantly, they need to connect with a sales and design professional who has the experience, expertise and ability to reduce their anxiety and inspire confidence in the big-ticket investment they are about to make.

Relationships remain the key to selling in this ever-changing market.

The kitchen and bath industry may be changing by the minute, but the need for relationship-building is still the single most important constant.

Because of the complexity of what you sell, your relationship with your customers can actually be more important than the product. In many cases, the quality of your relationship with your customer is the competitive advantage that lets you edge out other competitors who have products and services that are similar or are selling at lower prices.

Are you knowledgeable and likable?  Can you showcase your experience? Will you be a collaborative partner? Can you offer a package of products and services that personally “speaks” to customers? Can you be trusted? Do you keep promises?

Those are just a few of the questions people ask when they make buying decisions. They should be answered the same way successful design professionals have always answered them: with honesty, by using  your reputation, skills and competitive differences to your advantage, and by turning your interactions with prospects into lasting relationships.

As a kitchen and bath designer, you’re selling more than products and services, more than lifestyles or status or dreams. Beyond any of those, you’re selling yourself and your business: your philospohy, your vision, your talent and expertise.

If you’ve let technology take over your sales approach, try getting back to the basics of relationship building:

  • Listen to your clients
  • create value for them
  • deliver value to them
  • offer solutions for their unique problems
  • integrate technology into your proposal, but don’t let it take over your personal approach.

Personal connections have always been the foundation of designer-homeowner relationships in the kitchen and bath business. Creating connections is a sales strategy that should never be forgotten, regardless of how much the industry changes.