Vince Nardo, president of Reborn Cabinets, holds kitchen seminars that are a hit with homeowners.
Credit: courtesy Reborn Cahinets Vince Nardo, president of Reborn Cabinets, holds kitchen seminars that are a hit with homeowners.

Vince Nardo had a room to fill. In fall 2009, the president of Reborn Cabinets, in Anaheim, Calif., decided to use his company's 10,000-square-foot showroom to showcase his knowledge of kitchen design, materials, costs, and processes. “We knew from our own history that any client who came to the showroom was far more likely to buy,” he says. Today Reborn Cabinets organizes seminars on a six-week schedule. The company's June event drew 100-plus prospects and resulted in more than $250,000 worth of business.

ATTRACTED TO INFORMATION Experts such as C.J. Hayden, San Francisco business coach and author of Get Clients Now, says that seminar selling, also known as “live marketing,” is a step-by-step process. First, you must decide who is going to talk about what, where, and for how long. Then get a crowd.

Reborn Cabinets built attendance with a postcard mailing to unsold prospects, a series of e-mail blasts, and by using social media, the company website, show/event tie-ins, newspaper ads, and a pre-event phone room push. If you don't have a substantial mailing list, “Look for sponsors, so you don't have to fill the room yourself,” Hayden suggests.

Reborn Cabinets sales and marketing personnel attend the seminars and invite their unsold prospects. The hour-and-a-half morning session is about kitchen design; the after-lunch session covers how to choose a contractor. Every attendee gets a survey to complete. Nardo says that 30% of attendees end up buying.

INTEREST LEVEL & FOLLOW-UP To gauge attendee interest and maintain momentum, Hayden suggests:

  • Interacting with and engaging your audience by asking questions.
  • Avoiding a hard sell. Instead, establish the prospect's interest level by having him or her check off a box on a questionnaire or evaluation form. Then follow up.
  • Encouraging existing clients to attend and share their experience. “I'll show a before and an after picture,” Nardo says, “and then introduce the client and hand them the mike.”