Finding and Igniting the Sparks that Build Sales

I was recently flipping channels on my TV when I stopped for a moment on the Discovery channel. What caught my eye was a spark. It was a spark from a rock being struck by another rock to produce fire. After a few bangs of the rocks, a spark started some tinder, and with a few breaths of air blown across it, there was fire.

It occurred to me that this seems to relate to any selling situation. We have showrooms that may be the tinder of our fire. We have knowledge that may be the breath of air to turn the ember in the tinder into flame. My question, then, is, what is our spark?

I generally feel there is a point in the selling process where you just know the customer wants to buy from you. It’s like coming out of the morning fog of doubt and clearly seeing the sun on the horizon. You sense you and the prospect are on the same side, a team working toward the best result for their project. If there’s one word to define that moment, it’s trust.

I believe the spark we are looking for is that trust. The challenge is, how do we create that spark? What tools do we have to give us the results of the two rocks banging together? This month, I want to explore with you what tools we have available to make that trust a reality.


I understand how we can look at our competitors’ businesses and get the feeling we are so different, there is little in common between them and us. At the same time, a customer looking for our products and services often sees us as being more alike than different from our competitors, having similar products and services and presenting them in
a very similar way.

The customer expects the quality investment relationship we call value to be available from everyone selling products to satisfy their needs. The prospect believes all vendors do (or should) give appropriate customer service.

Thus, when clients begin their hunt for a design professional, the kitchen and bath professional doesn’t look much different than the big box stores. If anything, they most likely feel the big box store will be less expensive. However, they may also harbor some doubts as to what they may be missing out on by not trying the kitchen and bath specialty store.

I believe both the big box store and the kitchen and bath dealer have sparks, it just depends which one turns them into a fire for the prospect. However, many big box stores cannot provide the kind of direct contact and personal service that can spark the trust essential for making the sale.

Below, we’ll look at some of the many ways you have available to create the spark of trust with direct contact.

Passion Counts

First, it sounds simple but, do you have the lights on in your eyes? It’s unfortunate but many people calling themselves salespeople or sales/designers show little passion for their profession. They put in their time, but they are short on professionalism. They may play the blame game, or their mannerisms just don’t excite prospects or help lead them toward that spark of trust. In fact, often, their lack of passion and concern for the prospect throws water on any potential spark.

In these increasingly competitive times, you must have a passion for your profession and your prospect’s project. If you do, potential customers will sense it. You always have the opportunity for what I’ll call your first spark.

The next spark is for you to have the ability to develop an accurate target of your prospects’ needs. It’s pretty simple, really; it isn’t what we have to sell that will create a spark, but rather it’s finding products and solutions to solve the needs of the prospect’s defined target. So spark number two comes from developing the sales/design/service target.

A major spark comes from the width and depth of your product/industry knowledge and your ability to become a teacher to the prospect. I have met many who possess a lot of knowledge but don’t have the right skill set for sharing or teaching. Never let this be you.

We have many ways to gain knowledge that’s critical to our field. Most of gaining knowledge is a do-it-yourself program, but it’s always a good idea to seek the help of the supplier or manufacturer. I’ve long admired those who wish to improve their knowledge and design skills by investing their time and their money in the quest for excellence. If this isn’t you, it could be, so what are you waiting for? Remember, spark number three is to possess and properly share accurate information and knowledge.

You also need to use the tools available to make your customer’s project take life upon conception, not just upon completion. The investment in displays is a critical selling tool, while computer-aided design and pricing will bring both life and accuracy to a project.

Literature, samples doors, stain chips, countertop samples and color choices and hardware choices are other useful tools. Like any tools, they should be kept in shape, easily available, and then used appropriately to spark the project. This fourth spark is critical because not only will the right tools spark a selling opportunity, but if you don’t have them, any spark already in place may be snuffed out.

The final spark I want to mention has to do with acting in a way that will earn the prospect’s trust. That means do what you say you will, when you say you will do it. Way too often, the sales process is derailed because a phone call didn’t get returned or a quote was not ready when promised. These seem so simple, yet when they fail to get done, sales are lost.

Creating the spark to gain a prospect’s trust is so important – and you and your company have invested too much in gaining access to your prospect not to spark trust. Always try to create as many sparks as possible, and be sensitive when you have earned that special spark called trust, because if not nurtured, it can be easily snuffed out, taking your sale with it.

Remember, too, that the spark is only the beginning of the process. It is your responsibility to turn your spark into an ember and the ember into a flame and the flame into a profitable sale. The end result is that you will be benefiting by creating a satisfied customer.