Marketing Tactics Strengthen Sales

Many kitchen and bath salespeople today don't consider themselves salespeople at all. Rather, they think of themselves as being consultants, advisors, designers and technical people. And, I guess, that's more-or-less true. At the most recent K/BIS, I had people telling me that they could do better if they could just be more clever and creative when marketing their products, or learn how to close. Well, maybe. Or maybe not.

I've been doing sales and marketing most of my adult life, and it's amazing how things have changed throughout the years. Most readers of this column are too young to remember the real sales and marketing gurus of earlier days. J. Douglas Edwards. Cavett Robert. Zig Ziglar. Following them, people like Tom Hopkins, David Sandler, Hank Trisler and Joe Girard were hot.

Once they got a foothold, hundreds, if not thousands more, followed, thinking they could be gurus. They took up the task of teaching people how to market and sell. Everybody had different theories, different strategies and different techniques for marketing products and services and closing the sale.

Listening to these sales and marketing superstars during conventions, sales meetings and seminars was like going to a revival meeting. These coaches told us we needed a system. With these systems, they told us, you had to do a lot of things, like presenting, qualifying, listening and managing your time.'

Next, you had to ask the right questions: questions with names like standard tie-down, tag-on-tie down, open, closed, leading and clarifying.

Then, after that, you had to learn to close. And that wasn't easy, either. These disciples of sales gospel stated that you needed an arsenal of closes.

And that was just the beginning. You then had to learn to market yourself with slick direct mail, referral selling and repeat-customer marketing.

Deceptive days
Kitchen and bath dealers didn't always have to work on marketing strategies to get the sale. What worked 20 or 30 years ago is far different from today's approach.

Deceptive advertising and hammering the customer worked in the '70s and '80s. I know. I was there.
We could find more customers and slam-dunk them into buying something they didn't need or want faster than you could say "Whatcha-think-wanna-get-it?" It was an era to behold. We were slick, crafty and full of ourselves. Customers shook from fear. They just pulled out their wallets and we took what we needed. Sort of.'

But times have changed. Those days are over. Try enticing customers with a slick marketing ploy or selling a kitchen or bath that way nowadays and you'll go broke. It doesn't work today, and if you try to use anything that smacks of devious advertising or a canned close, or put somebody else's words into your mouth, you're going to sound stupid. Customers not only won't buy, they'll rebel.

Today, selling kitchens and baths takes advertising with integrity, using personality, having some product smarts, selling something you really believe in, honesty and a decent amount of persistence. Find out what works for you and try to capitalize on it. Practice getting customers to smile. Advertise features and benefits and why you are different than anyone else in your field. Of course, you have to close, too. That's not going away. But the trite closes of the past don't work any more. You have to have the guts to ask people to buy, and you have to do it nicely.'

New approach
Many people just won't jump at the chance to buy a new kitchen or bathroom installation for their home. Smart marketing brings them in, but even though it's what they want at the right price, they still have to be helped along a little. When someone decides that it's time to make a decision, even after weeks or months of specs, plans and estimates, he or she still might hesitate a little when it comes to spending tens of thousands of dollars.'

Still, getting the customer to make the purchase today can be easier than you think. Here are few ways to ask people to buy:Would you like to get it?

  • Okay with you?
  • Wouldn't you just love this in your home?
  • Can we write it up?
  • You're going to love it. How soon would you like it?
  • Would you like to pay cash, or put it on a contract?

I know, I know, that may seem a little too easy. But sales and marketing are no longer difficult. With some clever marketing and a little tweaking of your skills, your sales could increase significantly. Don't be afraid to ask. And don't be afraid to let your personality shine through.

J. Douglas Edwards said, "Selling is the lowest-paid easy profession, and the highest-paid hard profession in the whole world." Not true. It can be the highest-paid, easy profession if you adapt your own skills, tweak your personality and develop some sales smarts. And taking those sales smarts to another level starts by knowing kitchens and baths inside out, believing in your company, finding ways to get more prospects through the door, getting a customer to like you, finding a need and filling it, and simply having enough nerve to ask them to buy.'

I'll tell you what: Test out a few salespeople on your own. Shop for a car. Ask about insurance. Go out to a couple of houses and see how the real estate people try to get you to buy. If someone says, "Let's see what old Ben Franklin would do," then they take out a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle, and ask you to list all the reasons you would like it versus all the reasons you don't think you want it, chances are they sold in the '70s. Just tear the piece of paper into little pieces and leave it on the table. And, tell them to get a life.

Selling today takes some marketing smarts, a little tact, a little nerve and a little persistence, together with integrity and a certain amount of personality. I never thought it could be this easy.'

Bob Popyk is publisher of Creative Selling', a monthly newsletter on sales and marketing strategies. He is the author of the book, How to Increase Your Kitchen & Bath Business by 25%Starting Next Week!, available through the National Kitchen and Bath Association, and is a speaker at various industry events, including the National Kitchen & Bath Conference. For a free sample of his newsletter, call (800) 724-9700 or visit his Web site at