In part two of our in-depth look at selling and marketing to the independent bathroom showrooms, we look at how manufacturers and suppliers of bathroom products should communicate and educate the bathroom showrooms to maximise potential sales.
You can catch up on Part 1 here, where we discuss the challenges the bathroom showrooms face and the importance of the showroom settings.
As a business owner and salesman, Keith needs to feel an affinity with the brands they sell and be inspired to push them, armed with the required product knowledge and enthusiasm.
This is very important to Keith, but it is his opinion that obtaining this feeling and knowledge is not as common as you’d think it would be from every company.
“We love sales representatives and companies who are truly passionate and believe in their products. The enthusiasm is infectious and this rubs off on us and makes us more likely to sell and endorse their products. We are lucky that most of our brands are very supportive.
“Dansani - who make fantastic bathroom furniture - is an example of one of our suppliers who do just this and it makes a real difference. They’re doing the right things and their selling model should be encouraged.
Product training should not be forgotten
“Another thing that Dansani do very well is training. When they have a new range available, we are invited to their showroom for training and a full launch presentation. We get to know the product benefits and enhancements and the key selling messages. This ensures we can sell the product effectively and energises all present to be very pro the product and brand. The evening is always enjoyable and it makes you feel that they really want you to succeed.”
Sales representatives can often get the balance of visits to their customers wrong - it is one of the hardest calls to make, especially when visiting small businesses whose time is very precious. It is Keith’s view that visits should always try to be purposeful and probably a minimum of 4-5 times a year.
“It is vital that we have up-to-date literature and information on new product launches, as well as which product lines are no longer available and checking that our displays are up-to-date.
“We are a free advertising platform for them, so it is in their interests to make their brand seen and communicated in the best possible light. When you are an official dealer for a manufacturer, it is our responsibility to meet our obligations for being awarded that status, but it is vital that we get the support in return. The sales representative, to us, is the face of the company, so this relationship is paramount.
The showrooms are a fountain of knowledge
“We encourage sales visits and contact as it cements our relationship with our brands. It also allows us to give feedback from customers on their products, which will hopefully help their product development teams for future enhancements.”
Helping to shape the future of the industry is one area where Keith feels the experience and knowledge which the owners of bathroom showrooms have, is now very much overlooked.
Keith has been in the industry for many years and, in the past, he and many other business owners were invited to sit on advisory panels to help future product development, but Keith says these do not seem to happen anymore.
“The panels were very beneficial to all involved and our experience is now being lost to the industry. It is something that I would actively encourage and should become more regular again.”
With the increase of Internet selling, attracting people to visit a local bathroom showroom is more difficult. Being involved in the local community, having excellent service - promoted through word of mouth recommendation - and effective use of the Internet are all key factors. As Sue points out:
“We rely on being listed as official dealers on our suppliers’ websites, as people find out about us through them, as well as appearing in Google results for product and brand searches. We have also just redesigned our own website and associated social media and communication channels. This provides us with better tools to bring people into our showroom and inform people about new products, ideas and promotions.”
Price and promotions are key
Sue sees regular promotions as another area where manufacturers and distributors of bathroom products can really help support bathroom showrooms. The main benefit of promotions is that they really help to increase brand awareness and encourage people to commit to a purchase rather than procrastinating.
“It gives us a reason to contact our prospects or to promote in our locality. Promotions on ranges or brands always generate a lot of interest and people visiting the showroom - once they’re there they start to see what is available and what they could achieve in their home.”
The message is loud and clear for manufacturers and distributors of bathroom products: make sure you maximise the potential of the small bathroom showrooms, as they are one of the best sales tools in converting interest into sales for your products. The owners of such businesses care about the industry and are likely to be your most dedicated, knowledgeable and passionate supporters. So, look after their needs and you will be rewarded with sustained sales and reliable customers with whom you can develop a long-term relationship.
If you are looking to recruit sales and marketing professionals within the bathroom and wider KBB sector, or are looking for a sales job in the KBB sector, contact our specialist KBB team on 01480 405225 or via our website at www.pinnacleconsulting.co.uk/kbb-jobs.aspx
Thank you to Keith and Sue Mathews for their insight into the industry. Charisma Bathrooms is a family-run, high-quality bathroom showroom and retailer. For more information, please visit www.charismabathrooms.co.uk