I always considered myself a very good salesman. Yes, my technical skills and knowledge of products are excellent, but I’ve always felt that selling was my differentiator. I could always take a $40,000 budget and make it $50,000 or a $150,000 budget and turn it into a $175,000-200,000 sale. I considered that pretty impressive. That is until I started working with Bryan Celli, the showroom manager for the Crestron NYC Design Showroom.
As I’ve written before, I’m very fortunate to have a Crestron Design Showroom right in our backyard. For years, I would bring clients there to show them everything that a fully functional, up-to-date, well-integrated system could do. I have used the Crestron Showroom frequently, and Bryan was always an amazing host and would help me out with product demonstrations, shade fabric selection, and subtly suggesting some upgrades. I would typically sell a few extra touchpanels and would often get the window shades add-on locked up in these appointments.
Then I started sending clients to the showroom to meet with Bryan without me there. Why haven’t I been doing this for years? Bryan is amazing. Clients would go in with a $40,000 budget and come out ready to spend $150,000. I could never do that in that past. I don’t know what Bryan’s secret sauce is, but I think it is a combination of things:
1) Bryan doesn’t sell “gear.” He sells the luxury experience by connecting with the client.
2) I’m not there, so the discussion is more open without the integrator getting in the way.
3) He lives and breathes the showroom 8-10 hours a day, so he knows everything that is there and how to best demo and customize each experience.
4) While I may only see one to two prospective new clients a week, he sees multiple clients come through every day, from all over the world, so has more information about what clients respond to.
Hiring experienced, successful, luxury sales people is expensive. Not all integrators can afford to do it. Couple that with the cost of building and keeping a showroom current, and it becomes something that only the largest of firms can undertake. Being based in NYC, it is even that much more expensive—real estate costs alone would be $750,000-$1,000,000 a year for a showroom, plus hardware, inventory, staff, fixtures, etc. Then add the cost of a high-quality sales person onto that. We could not sustain that type of hit to our cashflow.
More manufacturers should open showrooms, particularly in expensive cities where dealers just cannot sustain the expense. By having modern showrooms and world-class sales staff, manufacturers would sell so much more product, and would have the sales of dozens, if not hundreds, of dealers to help support the expense. The combination of the showroom and great staff make it an invaluable resource. In NYC, the only other two showrooms I know of are Lutron and Savant. I am just grateful to have Bryan and the Crestron Showroom nearby. In fact, maybe I shouldn’t have written this blog… If more manufacturers open showrooms and hire sales people like Bryan, it will take away part of Crestron’s competitive edge in my market.