Using Demonstrations Effectively

There is one selling skill which I believe is consistently ignored or underused in the kitchen and bath industry a skill that's available to all. When developed and used appropriately, this particular skill has the potential to have an enormously positive impact on customers' buying attitudes, both emotionally and logically. There's no short cut to learning that skill, though once learned, it offers maximum benefits to both salespeople and customers.'

The skill I'm talking about is the ability to demonstrate.

Demonstration, when done properly, will use customer' five senses to heighten their awareness of products and services. The more customers can experience the offering, the more likely they will recognize the benefits of ownership, propelling them toward quicker decisions 'and you toward a sale.'

I know many salespeople feel that demonstration is no longer important. They believe consumers will look, touch, hear, taste and smell on their own. Yet I see demonstration as a very powerful tool.

When channel surfing on your television, haven't you occasionally caught a glimpse of a slicer dicer, juicer, cooker, etc., and been fascinated enough by the demonstration to want to own it, or at least to keep watching long enough to find out more? That's because these infomercials, with their demonstrations, use the entire selling process.'

The kitchen and bath industry offers us so many opportunities to demonstrate. Let's do our customers and ourselves a favor and take advantage of demonstration.

The first element of demonstration is to plan for it. I'm sure you have some favorite products you would choose to display, and features you could use to help ensure your customers understand what they will be receiving or rejecting with their decisions. Each display needs to be designed to be as inclusive as possible, and to take advantage of all you want to demonstrate. In addition, the demonstration units need to be positioned so they provide easy access.'

Each time a new display is designed, challenge yourself to see what can be done to appeal to the customer's five senses, revealing benefits to be gained by ownership of your product or design.

Okay, let's say the right choices have been made for displays and the demonstration units are in place. Now the challenge to you would be to decide how to present them and then practice the best way to present the benefits to the customer via demonstration.'

Practice is important here; you must practice the demonstration so you are comfortable with it, being sure to involve the customer as much as possible.'

Years back, I learned the importance of practicing my demonstration skills when a brand of ranges we were selling developed the easy-to-remove calrod surface elements.

They were easy to remove, but tough to put back into place. I learned that, until the company made improvements to address this, my demonstration would be more effective if it showed their easy removal, without having me attempt to put them back in the presence of the customer.

More recently, in our regular sales meeting, we invited a representative to teach us about his product. Yet instead of using demonstration to his advantage, he embarrassed himself and left our salespeople questioning an important claim about his product. He was demonstrating how his solid surface product would resist stains, and also be easy to clean if stained. He used a sample piece from our shop and also one of our permanent markers.

Something went wrong. Either the surface of our sample wasn't as he expected or our permanent marker was different. I can still see his embarrassment as he was hand sanding away, his sanding becoming faster and more aggressive, while the marks remained clearly visible. The result was that a demonstration designed to sell us on the benefits of the product instead left our salespeople doubting the product's merit.'

So practice the demonstration, and know what to say and do to best show off your product's advantages. Know where to stand, and how to get the customer involved to best experience your demonstration efforts. Prepare and practice to ensure that your demonstration will bring the expected results.

Once you've planned and practiced your demonstration, figure out when and where it fits your selling situation and do it! Always follow up your demonstrations with a question asking for confirmation that they understand the benefits illustrated by your demonstration.'

Demonstration tips
Here are some ideas for demonstration. There is no way I intend these to be all-inclusive, but I do hope they will be a mind jogger to generate ideas for your business.

  • With any bath or kitchen cabinet or accessory, show how you will improve the customer's storage by making items easier to put away, see and retrieve.
  • Highlight features which improve ease of maintenance, ensuring lasting durability, beauty and time savings.
  • Illustrate other timesaving features, for example, if you offer one of the new, quicker cooking ovens, have cookie dough on hand to show how tasty the end product comes out, yet in less time. As a by-product, the smell of baking cookies surely will put your customer's mind in the kitchen purchasing mode.'
  • Show convenience and safety of plans and products, i.e. rounded corners, non-slip surfaces, properly placed grab bars, countertops which are not only easy to clean but won't support bacterial growth, hygienic cleaning cycles in the dishwasher and the like. Show how the floor plan design will control traffic flow, and don't forget to design in proper landing space for hot items taken from the range or oven.'
  • Don't forget special accessibility for the physically challenged or those with special needs. Be able to demonstrate maximum access and use of the space in a safe manner.'
  • Don't forget the industry standard features. We're so close to the industry, we often take for granted what our customers don't know. Drawer guide systems, adjustable shelves, slide-out shelves, pots and pans drawers, proper lighting, ventilation, etc. all add value.

Demonstrations, when well done, are a powerful selling tool. They help you to control the sales process and accelerate customer decisions. So be sure to plan demonstrations, practice them and put them to use.