The lost art of suite-selling

David Orr, head of strategy at Dynamic Office Solutions, shares his extensive expertise in effective furniture-selling.

The lost art of suite-selling and product upgrades is costing office furniture dealers millions of pounds every year – yet this selling technique is both easy to execute and customer-friendly.

Next year I celebrate half a century since I sold my first stick of office furniture; this makes me one of the most experienced specialists in the UK – there has to be some benefit to reaching this advanced age, after all! It allows me a unique perspective on valuable sales practices that we need to rekindle for a more rewarding 2019.

There are still some masters of the skill around, and they report how they regularly increase the value of their interiors orders by 20-30%, or more; think what that could do to your bottom line. Remember, these sales tend to be at a higher margin to those achieved on the original enquiry because price comparisons are bypassed in favour of good-quality advice.

The principal is straightforward enough; simply put, it requires a dealer to manually intervene when an interiors order is received and to engage with the customer on what they really need. That’s one of the great attractions of this approach; the reseller is seeking to help the end-user customer make the best choice. It’s this kind of professional support that every good dealer wants to provide, and it can double or triple the value of an initial order.

For many – particularly in SMEs – buying office interiors products is not something they do frequently, so guidance is appreciated. Let’s say the end-user has ordered a basic operator chair; a discussion may persuade them how a better-quality chair will help with posture (2.5 million people suffer back pain every day), comfort and efficiency. They may not have ordered arms with the chair, and this invites a discussion on the virtues of arms generally and, specifically, the benefits of height adjusting or other functional options.

Suite-selling comes into its own with furniture. A desk order, for example, should spark an instant desire to contact the customer to check the detail. Is the customer refitting other offices? This could create a far bigger opportunity. Or, if it is just one office, is at-desk storage, or matching away-from-desk storage, required? And whilst this is being reviewed, why not consider a new chair for that replacement workstation and, perhaps, a visitor chair or two to go with it? The list goes on.

As I observe the trends in 2018 I am genuinely excited by the thought of dealers proactively embracing this classic tactic. It will mean much-improved dealer sales and margins next year.

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