I had the distinct good fortune to speak yesterday at the Rose Tarlow Melrose House showroom at the D&D Building Fall Market in New York City. Jobi Blachy, the new President and CEO (with LOTS of great stuff to introduce as new products and processes for this established and regal company – keep watching for them!) introduced me to a group of just under 100 designers, who were eager to learn and discuss the challenges of working at the top of the market. Here are some of the things I shared with them, taken from research done with designers in the city and across the country…..
What is Premium?
Premium is timeless, regardless of the style. It’s known….an accepted or iconic (Eames chair and ottoman, Billy Baldwin slipper chair) and of the highest order – the best of its kind. It’s of exceptional quality, as defined by the materials used, the design and construction, and the fit and finish of the piece. Premium doesn’t need to fit ALL of those elements, but a majority of them. Designers need to know the specifics of Premium so that we can explain and DIFFERENTIATE it from other products and show clients HOW to look and understand the difference. It’s also a personal relationship and partnership with showrooms who carry exquisite product and who help you to manage your projects effectively and efficiently.
What is Selling?
Let’s start with what it ISN’T….
It isn’t trickery or magic. It isn’t something deceitful or slight of hand that you are doing to get someone to do something they don’t want to do. It also isn’t something you’re born knowing how to do, anymore than an airline pilot was born knowing how to fly a plane. And it also isn’t beneath you to learn and be able to do skillfully, without sacrificing or compromising your aesthetic talents.
What it IS…..
Is a process of steps with a beginning, middle and end. It’s a courageous conversation directed to an objective and a skill that can be learned at least to competence and practiced consciously and repeatedly to mastery. And it’s really a requirement for you to do your job and get paid well for it as a way to transport an idea to an actuality.
I encourage you to create a new perspective about selling and about doing it…. An understanding of it and how to execute it and consciously make it part of what you do. Without it, you will be at the mercy of your clients’ process, because if you don’t have one for them to follow, they will use their own… and that NEVER ends well. It’s not their role to lead, it’s your role. And accepting that role means upgrading your skills to direct the conversation and the process so that it’s smooth, seamless, and produces results efficiently and as expected.
What is Selling Premium?
It’s 2 sides of the same hand – they are both required in order to accomplish it. It’s a sales process that incorporates the client buying process…and the client buying process includes the internet and researching information and product on it. It’s a qualifying conversation early on in the process that has you understand the project and budget so that you can include premium products where they are perfect, even if you can’t use them for the entire project. This is especially important for those clients who DO research on the internet and find premium product there – and ask you for discounts in response to their findings. It’s an understanding of HOW to use premium product on a project that maximizes its inclusion and impact when mixed with other, more affordable products. And it’s a relationship with the sales teams of premium showrooms to partner with you in understand the product and its options so that you can include it in your projects.
So here are some actions for you to take away…
- Examine at your current process and see where it needs and upgrade – either your understanding and communication about premium products OR your understanding and communication about the buying and selling processes.
- Evaluate your qualifying process to see where you can be more courageous in your communication, especially at the premium level, so that you can include products that
- Consider your premium showroom partnerships to see if you are working with your showroom sales team for information and support that would have you be more effective in explaining and producing product that would be perfect for the projects you are doing.
Now, go sell something premium!!!