Selling high-end products like hardwood can be very lucrative for dealers.  However, dealers don’t sell nearly as much of their high-end lines as they could, so they miss all the additional profits that premium products can generate.  I attended the NWFA Wood Expo and spoke with wood manufacturing leaders on the reasons why dealers don’t sell more high-end.    

Order Takers

“How many millions of dollars are left on the table because of sales people who are merely order takers?”  asked Paul Stringer, VP of Sales and Marketing for Somerset.  His question goes straight to the heart of a major reason why dealers don’t sell more high-end: sales people who are order takers rather than trusted advisors. If you want to sell more premium products, you must train your sales people how to position themselves as trusted advisors.  “If you sound educated to consumers, they will trust you and your recommendations,” Stringer said.  “This makes them more likely to buy higher priced products.”

One positioning mistake made by too many sales people is they start talking about products at the beginning of the sales process.   Imagine if a doctor walked into the exam room and began the conversation the way many flooring sales people do with prospects:

DOCTOR:  “Hi, how can I help you?”

PATIENT:“I don’t feel so good.”

DOCTOR:“Well, what kind of pills did you have in mind today?We’re having a two-for-one sale on Viagra, 30% off antibiotics, and 40% off the most popular anti-depressants.”

Doctors don’t do this.  They ask you questions, diagnose the problem, then prescribe the solution.   And most patients follow whatever solution their doctor prescribes.

Sales people should take the same approach with flooring customers.  You should train them to ask questions, diagnose the problem (e.g. identify the customer’s needs, wants and desires), and then prescribe the product (or products) that offer the best solution.  This sets the stage for your sales people to educate customers on why they should consider high-end options.  If premium products are presented in this way, you’ll be surprised at how many of your “patients” follow the solution you’ve prescribed.

Another common mistake sales people make is to assume that customers are only interested in the lowest price possible.  “Too many dealers are chasing the same low-end market, so it becomes a race to the bottom,” said Wade Bondrowski, Director of U.S. Sales for Mercier.  “Instead, educate consumers on the benefits of hardwood.  Some will opt for the higher-end if they know how they’ll benefit.”

Andrew Graf, President of Graf Customer Hardwood, also stressed the importance of educating consumers.  “Yes, hardwood costs more, but that’s outweighed by the fact that it will last a lifetime.  It can be sanded and refinished over time as the consumer’s design tastes change.”

Selling High-end is about education, not pressure

Selling high-end is not about pressuring people to pay more than they can afford.  “It’s about educating consumers on why they should consider wood,” said Steve Staikos, Director of Sales for AHF Products.  “People want authenticity, and some are willing to invest more for that. But it’s important that sales professionals are trained to overcome barriers people have to purchasing hardwood, such as concerns over scratching and denting, which current coating technology alleviates.”   

Another reason to educate consumers on why they should consider wood: “It’s one of the few flooring options that provide a return on investment,” said Pat Oakley, Vice President of Marketing for Mullican.  “It will help you sell your house faster, and for more money.”

WIIFM: What’s In It For Me?

Everyone’s favorite radio station is WIIFM: What’s In It For Me? By training your team to position themselves as trusted advisors, and to take the time to educate customers on what’s in it for them if they invest in premium flooring, you can sell a lot more high-end products like hardwood.


To Tons Of Customers!

Jim Augustus Armstrong is The “Coach”

Jim Augustus Armstrong is the President of Flooring Success Systems, a program that equips dealers to double their profits, cut their work hours in half and beat the boxes! Many dealers have totally transformed their businesses and their lives for the better after joining Flooring Success Systems.
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