In a world of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat 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 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.
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.
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.
When talking to potential customers, having an understanding of their thought processes and the psychology of how purchase decisions are made – why people buy -- can be very helpful when it comes time to close the sale.
Homeowners considering a new kitchen experience two types of pain --
(1) the pain of living with an inefficient, out-dated kitchen, and
(2) the pain of having to pay for a new kitchen.
Using brain-scanning equipment, scientists in the field of neuroeconomics have discovered that they can predict whether subjects will make a purchase. Neuroeconomics is a relatively new discipline that combines neuroscience, economics and psychology to study human behavior and choice making.
The accumbens, a pleasure center, lights up when people are contemplating a purchase, and the insula, a pain center, lights up when they are thinking about how much that purchase is going to cost. These studies suggest that each buying decision is a fight between a pleasure center seeking the happiness of acquisition and an aversion center seeking to avoid the pain of paying.
This is all very interesting, we hear you saying. But what does it have to do with getting homeowners to buy a new kitchen from me?
Based on the neuroeconomic findings, you have to start considering part of your job description to include that of a pain reliever.
Pain is particularly present when consumers are facing a complex, expensive purchase, such as a new kitchen, especially since they can’t see or touch what the finished product is going to be. At this stage in the process, they are buying something intangible, which increases anxiety.
Pointing out what buyers will gain by buying your product requires them to picture themselves in a better place after having bought from you. This type of imaginative leap isn’t easy to take, and can be painful when they start to think about how much a new kitchen or bath costs.
How can you overcome their pain of purchasing?
You as the pain reliever can go to work at your very first meeting by getting them to like you and feel comfortable with you. Finding similarities between you and your prospects will help to relax them. You already know this, of course, but now you can know why it’s important.
An expert on purchasing behaviors reports that women measure their self-worth by the quality of their relationships, and they evaluate purchases by the impact they will have on family and friends. Buying to help the quality of their relationships eases the pain of a major expenditure.
You must demonstrate how your solutions will relieve her pain and enhance her relationships. Ask her to imagine herself in the space you’re planning. This is powerful because when you ask someone to imagine something, the brain takes ownership of it, and the person becomes emotionally invested in the solution. “Imagine how nice it will be to have the space to entertain your in-laws in your new kitchen.” “Imagine having a place for the kids to do their homework while you make dinner.”
Another way of easing the pain of buying is to give clients the opportunity to do good at the same time. Studies show that the affluent care about the social and environmental responsibility of the companies they do business with, so tell your clients if the cabinets you sell are certified “green” by the KCMA, are formaldehyde-free, etc.
Still another way to ease purchase pain is by story telling. The logical side of buyers craves facts and figures, while their psychological side craves stories and pictures of past successes.
Storytelling is a way to alleviate pain because it creates and/or strengthens emotional bonds. When people read or hear a story, their brains experience it and remember it, as opposed to merely hearing a recitation of features and benefits.
Stories of past successes resonate strongly with buyers because they can picture themselves in the situations of previous buyers. This is why “Before And After” case studies are powerful influencers.
For example, when showing a deep drawer under a cook top, you can tell a story about a client who incorporated one into her kitchen. Now she’s thrilled because it’s easy to access her pots and pans and cooking is more fun.
Be sure to use the word “you” in your presentations when addressing pain points. “This drawer makes it easier for you to get to your pots” or “you won’t kill your back reaching for a heavy pot.” Speak to the pain and how you’re going to relieve it.
In addition to being a great designer, you have to become a pain reliever. Relieving your prospects’ pain starts by getting them to feel comfortable with you.
Then you can move on to demonstrate how your design solutions will enhance their relationships and allow them to support companies that care about the environment.
And finally, you can close the sale by sharing “Before And After” stories that tell through words and pictures how your designs relieved pain points for other customers.
Most every sales person in our industry is trying to figure out how to win the business of the millennial consumer, the generation expected to account for $1.4 trillion in spending in the U.S. by 2020. No wonder companies are scrambling to adjust their sales and marketing strategies to reach this generation.
You’ve probably heard that millennials are disloyal, that they jump from product to product, just like they jump from job to job. However, this is a big myth about the millennial generation. Over half (50.5%) of millennials say they are loyal to their favorite brands.
While this generation has major brand loyalty potential, earning that loyalty is a process. You need to woo these tech-savvy consumers with authenticity, not sales-speak, as they are the most educated generation in history.
The Millennial buyer can be intimidating, but the challenge to gain their trust is not impossible.
Here’s a few tips to help you confidently sell to your newest generation of buyers.
#1. Do Your Research
You have to know your customer. A ton of market research exists regarding millennials that you can use for reference. (Start here.) Read up on their buying trends and preferences and what’s important to them so you can develop a targeted sales approach.
Millennials care about purchasing products and supporting brands that align with their values. Authenticity is #1 most important with Millennials; 72% of them are willing to spend more on brands that support causes they care about.
One of those causes is the environment. This is your chance to tell them how the cabinets you sell are made in America and are certified “green” by the KCMA. If your company sponsors fund raisers in support of reducing poverty or feeding the hungry, get that mentioned somewhere, as well.
If you are researching them, you better believe they are researching you. They can (and do) Google your name and gain instant access to all of your information.
Being authentic has to do with the persona you and your company portray both online and offline – do they match up? They had better.
#2. Don’t Try to Hard Sell Them
When this generation entered the world, it was assaulted with “Buy Now!” types of advertising, and they’re tired of them and pay no attention.
Millennials know they have options, so they do their research, and they will either confidently make a purchase or walk away.
You need to convince them why they need your product, how it will benefit them.
Millennials crave personalization and collaboration. They want to participate and they want their opinions heard, so include them during every step of the sales process and beyond. Listen to and respect their opinions.
#3. Communicate Like Millennials
They’re constantly connected. They don’t remember what it’s like to not be connected. Forget about TV and radio – not on the millennial radar.
Several studies have shown that Millennials have short attention spans. Witness their preferred communication tools: text messages, Snapchat and Instagram are all short, concise and visual.
This generation is used to checking online before buying anything. Their first impression of a company or product comes from website design and functionality. With their short attention spans, you simply must have a modern, convenient, smooth-working web site and mobile app. Their on-line experience with your company must be seamless, no matter the device they are on.
#4. Be Informative, But Be Quick
Your goal is to convince them why they need your product in the least amount of time.
They’ll fact-check what you’re offering them, regardless of what you tell them, so it’s wasted effort trying to explain everything, rather than letting them explore.
#5. Don’t Try To Con Them
Millennials search the Internet to learn more about what you are trying to sell them so they aren’t caught in any unpleasant surprises. They can spot a fake and won’t hesitate to switch brands if they sense something isn’t genuine or trustworthy.
Millennials want real, down-to-earth people who can truly connect with them and give them the truth.
Be consistent and transparent with whatever you tell them about your services, and if their fact-checking reveals that you were right, they will be more willing to listen.
#6. Be The Expert
Impressing millennials requires that you act as the person who both knows your business and can tell them how it relates to their lives.
They want to know that you hear them, you acknowledge their problems, and provide solutions for them.
Research what kinds of problems you can address, then create content about it. Open their eyes to problems they never knew they had and present your solution afterwards
#7. Don’t Stereotype Them
Many stereotypes exist about millennials, like they have no brand loyalty, they’re always glued to their phones, they feel entitled, etc. The fact is that they are a diverse group. It’s dangerous to look at Millennials as a homogeneous mass. While they belong to one generation, Millennials fall on a wide spectrum of tastes, behaviors and income levels.
If you’ve been struggling to connect with this generation, Kitchen Design Partner has the experience and know-how to get you on the right track. Contact them to learn more.
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