The idea of “Give the customer what they want” is flawed in a few ways. Many times the customer doesn’t really know what they want , they just know they want it.

For example, we sell a line of contact cements. One recent customer call found us discussing our contact cement’s highlights against its competitor's. Our customer was focused on price and the discussion was rapidly dying.

But we knew what he really needed, not wanted. The customer was a commercial casework company, actively involved in AWI and going after several prominent large jobs in his state. Most of his company's business came from specified project from architects and designers. To me, the minute I hear, commercial, state projects and the architects and designers community, I think “Green.”

We switched the topic from price to a new no-VOC, California-compliant green adhesive and won the business. We won, because everyone else talked price and tried to sell him what he wanted. We knew his industry and what he needed. Once we highlighted the need, he agreed to the upgrade.

The same sales concept can work for you. If you provide kitchen cabinets, you know that most kitchens have a tall pantry. The customer wants to stock canned goods in the tall pantry. Most big box stores are going to quote a tall door with shelves. Your knowledge and experience show that the best answer is a roll-out pantry unit. The customer knew she wanted storage, but after seeing the idea, knows she needs a roll-out. This is called “up-selling,” but it isn’t as much selling, as it is experience, that brings the work to you.

The same concept works for custom furniture. Your product can have a better finish, higher detail, figured veneer and hand-sanded hardwoods. Whatever it is that makes the product unique is the up-sell. Highlight it and talk about it whenever the chance presents itself.

Read more of Rick Hill's blogs.

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