As life continues to return to pre-pandemic practices it is important to learn if your showroom sales team have picked up any new, good and or bad habits during the busy lockdown. It would be strange if they have not developed new practices during a two-year period where they were stuck at home with minimal physical contact while business exploded. These are not normal times.

During my 2022 travels, I have noticed one combined practice that both delights and concerns me. Many salespeople and trade professionals have consciously sped up their product selection process by condensing the sales/selection process. Showroom salespeople are not presenting the entire spectrum of available designs, finishes and applications. Knowledgable salespeople are directing clients to neutral finishes, safe designs and limiting discussions of customization and unique applications. They understand that their professional clients are also slammed, and homeowners want to get their jobs moving. Simply, all parties want to get this selection done and move on to what’s next. In a busy, pandemic time, this makes perfect sense. But, moving away from the pandemic period, should luxury, high service showrooms stop focusing on crafting and delivering unique solutions? Do you want your brand to slip down towards the middle of the market?

Market leading premium and luxury showrooms carve out their niche by building and supporting a reputation of presenting the latest and greatest products, diverse design selections and offering the ability to apply them in any number of “interesting” designer and homeowner imagined applications. If your sales team has picked up the habit of presenting only a handful of neutral designs and applications, this could erode your brand’s market leading reputation. Even though your showrooms present the finest bands, in countless finishes in umpteen designs, your customers only recall what they are shown. Talented and busy designers, architects and builders constantly visit many designer showrooms. They are searching and specifying everything from fabrics to flooring and they only really remember what they see. As we return to normal and trade professionals are again visiting showrooms, we must make sure they are up to date on the last and greatest. We spend all our time in the plumbing world and we know what is available. The design and building trades have to be shown the latest and greatest of every plumbing product category. For your showrooms to remain the #1 go-to, it is important to always remind your broad client base that your showroom has it all.

How do you know if your salespeople have developed this habit of only presenting middle-of-the-road, quick sell products? The pandemic only lasted 18 months and most of your salespeople are knowledgeable showroom veterans. Could they have changed that fast? Phillippa Lally , in her study How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world, discovered a new habit usually takes a little more than 2 months — 66 days to be exact — and as much as 254 days until it’s fully formed. With this information, It is very likely that members of your sales team have developed this habit during the 18 months of pandemic lock down.

earth tones, nature and Zen atmospheres
Decorilla says earth tones, nature and Zen atmospheres are popular in interior design. Photo courtesy of CreativaStudio / Getty Images / Royalty-free.

Even the most talented professionals can slip into bad practices. Especially when it was the bet practice only a few months prior. Successful people, from CEO’s to GOAT’s, think Tom Brady, employ coaches to help them remain the best in their world as it is now. In 2022 coaching, if presented in a positive, constructive manner, is accepted and embraced by forward thinking employees. So, let’s coach by playing the game of predicting the future.

Gather your team together and have an open discussion on trends. A simple, well moderated, team meeting discussing what is the Now look, what is the best New product and what wiil be the Next. This conversation can cover styles, finishes and applications and will motivate them to start thinking about actual product versus speed.

A new habit takes roughly two months —66 days to be exact — to create and as long as 254 days to become fully formed.

To get the conversation started, prior to the meeting, refer your team to some industry and non-industry trend reports. There is list at the end of this article including Supply House Times 2022 trends report. These commentaries will stimulate your team to think toward the future and lead the pandemic behind. A few days later assemble your showroom team in their showroom. Start the meeting with 20 minute open discussion focusing on the “experts’ trend ideas and how the might unfold in our plumbing industry. With all this bouncing around in everyone’s heads, ask each attendee to write down what they are selling now, what they think the best new product is and what might be next. Make sure they do not share this with any other attendee until asked. Then, one-by-one, ask the salespeople present their view of the Now, New and Next by using the showroom to tell those stories. This is a simple exercise that allows everyone to express their opinions and help each attendee to uncover new products they might not have seen in a while and learning what their colleges think about their current go-to’s.

If they have developed a habit of only presenting safe designs, this energetic exchange will remind them what a broad offering they have access to, that trends come and go and what they should be presenting to their customers.

To allow the discussion to live past the meeting, note each showroom consultant's selections. Then, about 6 months later, setup another meeting to review those selections with the team. Do they still agree with their projections? Do they want to change one or two? Again, this exercise helps them to open their minds, learn from each other and not get overly focused down with what is hot today.

This exercise is beneficial for another reason. Your e-commerce competitors can show visitors their website’s popular products but not what the future might deliver. Is a well respected, trend making designer and design conscious homeowner interested in what is hot today on In leading brick mortar showroom brands, a vibrant, showroom consultant knows their product niche so well that they can effectively present what is trending now and always offer a peak into the future. This is the information your customers crave and non-interactive ecommerce sites cannot.

With this coaching, the habit of presents safer solutions will disappear and your showrooms will remain to be your target market go-to for both luxury products and information on what might be the next elegant look. And if they do it a bit more efficiently, all the better.

The views expressed in this column are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily represent Supply House Times or BNP Media.