Dealers Share Best Industry Networking Practices

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Kitchen & Bath Design News recently posed the question to dealers and designers in the kitchen and bath industry: “What are the best techniques for effectively upselling during the design and selling process?” Following are some of the responses KBDN received:

“I think the first thing is to talk to the clients about their budget, because if you can get a better sense of how they are thinking, it really helps. A lot of people are very conservative when they start the process, but their budget will grow – if they value the product that you are offering.

What a lot of clients are looking for, especially the high-end clients, is something that is different, that nobody else has. So, we start with the cabinets. The important thing there is to point out the fit and finish of higher-end cabinets versus lower-end lines. For instance, you can tell them that they can store your dishes in any cabinet, but the feel is very different with higher-end lines. I always have my clients feel the cabinetry and see how it is constructed compared to lower-priced lines. Once they see the difference, they tend to value that and can make the decision as to whether this is for them.

When they go for painted finishes, you generally want them to go for more expensive lines or custom lines so that they can get good quality. You can also upsell with all the bells and whistles that are available today. They may not think about it when they start out, but to upsell the inserts, for example, is important. We will tell them how an insert can help organize things in their home, which is true. To upsell the client on accessories, it is going to come down to the look and finish they are looking for, but it is really easy to upsell that because [most of our clients] want something with a higher quality that is different than what anybody else has.

Overall, I would say it is equally easy to upsell the big-ticket items and the bells and whistles. With the upticket items, they may take a while to come around, but they will go for it, like a marble tile backsplash, for instance. The main thing is that you want to try and upsell yourself first as a designer, and by doing that you will upsell the product. Once the clients trust you and know that you are giving them the best item available, that is the best way to approach the situation. You need to become a friend to them. Once you become a friend, you can suggest items that are a little bit above what they wanted to spend – but still within their parameters.

Mariette Barsoum, CKD, owner
Divine Kitchens, LLC
Westborough, MA

“The upselling starts with a good product. You can’t sell an inexpensive cabinet and expect to be upselling some of those things. When people come in they are looking for a good product to begin with, and that’s why we handle top-of-the-line cabinets. Our showroom displays are full kitchen displays with appliances and countertops, and they are all upscale products, as well. If you are going to be selling them upscale items, you had better be showing them. By selling and showing complete kitchens, you are able to put all of those inside-the-cabinet features that all of the cabinet companies have available.

There are so many things that customers aren’t familiar with, but when they see them, it certainly helps close the sale because they don’t see them elsewhere. Offering the opportunity to touch, feel and see what you’re selling is a real plus. It’s pretty hard to sell something just by a photograph.

As salespeople, it is important to develop a close relationship with the customer. You have to be aggressive with them in a positive way, letting them know that you are really interested in their project. Once you capture their attention and gain their confidence, it is easy to upsell.”

Al Dekker, president
Customwood Kitchens
Westmont, IL

“We talk to our clients about what products they are looking for and we try to show them all of the additional things that they might want to consider, such as recycle centers and roll-out trays and garbage bins. The thing we need to do as designers and salespeople is to show people what is out there and have them decide what they like and what they do not like. The idea is to ask them questions and show them what is available. I think that functionality is key for our clientele because they want to use every nook and cranny in their kitchen, and they don’t want to waste any space, so we try to educate them as to what is out there [that can help them to maximize space]. We offer choices, and when they decide to do certain things, they are adding to the bottom line as far as the total cost. This makes for better profits for us and a better kitchen for them.

Overall, I think it’s easier to sell the smaller-ticket items because even though those things can add up, people do not perceive them as being as expensive. The idea is to show people what is available and let them pick and choose.

Jim Brandon, CKD, CKBD
Kitchens of Stillwater
Stillwater, MN

“The best way to upsell is to present the customers with options. We find that most customers do not have an accurate gauge of what things are supposed to cost. Obviously, many are people purchasing their dream kitchen and we want them to get exactly what they want. So, by providing more materials and options, you can constantly elevate the costs.

Customers often deliver a budget and a lot of times they have a guess as to what cabinets and countertops cost, but they do not know what the installation costs will be.

So, once you’ve hooked them with the kitchen and the countertop, then everything else is added services. Basically upselling is a matter of offering an all-in-one service to the customer.”

Matthew Wilhelm, president
EKB Kitchens
Beacon, NY