Relationship Selling in the Digital Age

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Relationship Selling in the Digital Age

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​In a world of FacebookTwitterSnapchat and Instagram, HD touchscreensvideo conferencingvirtual reality and streaming video, digital communication threatens to take over how businesses communicate and interact with their prospects and existing customers. 
This increased use of technology, paired with changing demographics, is reshaping the kitchen and bath market. The number of homeowners researching products and services online has caused a major shift in how consumers shop. Digital tools have changed how kitchen designers display and demonstrate products.
It seems like the wave of new digital products is endless. What consumers want is constantly evolving, along with 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 taken in by or dependent upon technology that they forget how to turn prospects into clients

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It’s vital that business owners and their employees never lose sight of the effectiveness of a human-to-human, handshake-to-handshake relationship-selling strategy. It can be too easy to get caught up in the excitement generated by all the digital tools and allow them to replace tried-and-true 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.
There’s no denying that online shopping is very helpful in educating prospects, but it doesn’t prepare them to make purchase decisions. Much of our industry’s new sales technology has limitations when it comes to selling kitchens and baths.
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 need for relationship-building can be considered the single most important constant in an industry that’s changing all the time. 
Because of the complexity of what we sell, your relationship with your clients can actually be more important than the product. It is, in fact, the key differentiator between you and your competitors. In many cases, the quality of your relationship with your customer is the competitive advantage that enables you to edge out other competitors who have products and services that are similar or are selling at lower prices. 
Are you knowledgeable, likable, transparent? Can you point to proven experience? Will you be a collaborative partner? Can you offer a unique package of products and services that “speaks” to clients in a personal way? Can you be trusted to keep promises? 
Those are just a few of the questions people ask as 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 client relationships.

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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 things, you’re selling yourself and your business: your philosophy, your vision, your talent and expertise. 
If you’ve let your infatuation with technology take over your sales approach, try getting back to the basics of relationship building. Listen to your clients, create and deliver value for them. Offer solutions for their unique needs. Integrate technology into your proposal, but don’t let it take over your personal approach. 
Personal connections have always been the foundation of the kitchen and bath business. Creating those connections is a sales strategy that should never be forgotten, regardless of how the industry may change.