Selling the Most Vital Person in the Process

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When teaching sales skills, I have an eight-question test I like to give. One of the questions on the test is “what or who is most important in the selling process?” The choices are the product, the customer or the salesperson.

Take a moment to reflect on the choices.

Could it be the product? Well, never doubt your need for having a product advantage. To earn the sale, you must be able to defend the cost of product relative to the benefits to be gained from ownership. So product clearly is very important.

The customer is the next choice. The customer is important because he or she is your revenue source, and ultimately, the one who must be satisfied for you to run a profitable business.

However, I believe that the salesperson is the most important element in the sales process. Although you must have all three elements in place for the process to be successful, the salesperson’s role is the most important.

Products in the same price range are often similar in features and appearance. The customer may understand his or her needs and have some knowledge of the process. But, in the end, the salesperson/designer holds the keys to the creation and completion of a perfect job.

The salesperson’s role is a lot like the role of the conductor of an orchestra. The orchestra has a lot of of horns, reeds, strings and drums. All can make a variety of sounds and rhythms. The conductor pulls it all together and makes music.

The salesperson/designer as the conductor of a project brings it all together with the right products, budget, design and solutions, ensuring proper installation, and resulting in the right finished project.

The salesperson executing the right skills will always make the customer feel like a king or queen. For you to succeed in making your customers feel like royalty, you must sell yourself.

Sell to Find Prospects

I encourage you to sell yourself in two different scenarios.

First, sell yourself to find prospects. How do you do that? Here are some ideas:

  • Develop a relationship with the editor of the home section of your local newspaper. Position yourself as an expert resource any time the newspaper needs information about kitchens/baths, design or trends in new-home design and remodeling. You will find consumers in your market will want to find you because of the knowledge you have shared.
  • Get involved in community organizations. For example, get involved with the symphony guild. Many will get to know you, where you work and what you do. In addition, they are likely to share who you are with any of their friends and acquaintances who want to build or remodel, increasing the pool of opportunities.
  • Carry business cards with you at all times, because you never know when you will be in the right place at the right time where another prospect may be found. Give the person your card, and in return get that person’s name and address, and make that person a target prospect.
  • Make yourself available as a speaker to groups. Create a 15- to 20-minute presentation of general kitchen and bath information, where you deliver nuggets of information about creating or renovating the kitchen and bath. Note how much listeners will enjoy the benefits of a new kitchen or bath. Make sure you take business cards for each attendee.
  • This is also a great opportunity to offer to send information. By doing so, you will capture each person’s name and, within the week you will come to each person’s house via the mailman with your business card and the requested information, again building an inventory of target prospects.
  • Be the one who wants to work a home show, and do it with the purpose of finding opportunities to sell, not just to tend to the booth. You should walk away with a pocketful of interested prospects.
  • Make sure you follow-up with your current and past customers asking for referrals. A referral from a satisfied client is considered the best type of sales opportunity.

By selling yourself and making your market aware of who you are and what you do, your tickler file of future business will grow, and among these you will find your next customer.


The second scenario is selling yourself to a prospect at your initial contact by making a positive first impression. With your face-to-face meeting, the prospect will be creating a perception of your skills, the product/value relationship you create and how you will be organized and skillfully lead the project to success.

Selling yourself to the prospect in front of you has a lot of elements. How long did the person have to wait before he or she was acknowledged in your place of business? Does your body language say “Welcome! I am glad you are here,” or does it say “I am too busy and you are interfering”? Selling yourself means being on time and respectful of everyone’s time by being properly organized and productive. Make sure your prospects understand that you know their time is as important to them as your time is to you.

Always do what you say you are going to do. For example, if you said you would have the quote ready, changes made, find information or return a call, make sure you live up to your commitment. Sell yourself and become the most important part of their project experience from beginning to end. It’s not an ego massage but rather about how important you will be to them. They can buy product at any number of places.

They can do business with another good competitor, but only in one place will they get the most important part of their project – you.

Never consider yourself “just” an anything. You are not just a salesperson, just a designer, just a project manager. You are special to your next prospect, to your current in-process customers, and to past satisfied customers because they need you. Why? Because your skills will add value to their projects, you will see to it their projects are done correctly and you will become a lifelong friend to the satisfied customers – just as they will become lifelong customers for you.

Think back and take a look at how you are selling yourself to the market and to the prospect/customer in front of you. Be honest about any weaknesses you discover and make corrections. The results will be more prospects, and more prospects becoming customers, resulting in more profitable business for you.

Read past columns on Closing the Sale by Ralph Palmer, and send us your comments about this story and others by logging onto Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Website at