Offering different levels of quality within a product line lets consumers make educated decisions about which style works best for them, without feeling pressure.
Offering different levels of quality within a product line lets consumers make educated decisions about which style works best for them, without feeling pressure.

Given three choices within a product line, almost everyone picks the middle, says Rex DeVooght, sales manager for Hanke Brothers Siding & Windows, in Hot Springs, Ark. “That's human nature.”

While that's important to bear in mind if you're offering a good-better-best product selection, salespeople must also be trained and motivated to do more than just waltz in and present the cheapest, most easily sold option.

Incentives to Sell Up Getting salespeople out of the habit of defaulting to the lowest price calls for two things, says industry sales and marketing consultant Chuck Anton. First, your reps must have a clear understanding of product differences. Second, they need an incentive to sell customers the best. He suggests offering a higher commission on better and best products.

That technique works at Hanke Brothers, which sells three tiers of siding (basic, standard, and deluxe) and windows (silver, gold, and platinum). “Salespeople take a little less on silver, and so do we,” DeVooght notes.

Pitch to the Budget At Siding-1 Windows-1 Exteriors in Chicago, one of the first questions owner Bill Conforti has his salespeople ask prospects concerns budget. “It's very important not to try to sell a Lexus if someone can only afford a Chevrolet,” he says.

Michael Sullivan, general manager of Lifetime Aluminum Storm, in East Hanover, N.J., tells prospects that his company offers a product to meet any budget. “We try to offer options,” he says, such as simulated divided lites or wood-grain interiors. “Once we get a sense of the budget, we do a presentation of that product.”

Hanke Brothers sales reps get that sense by asking one key qualifying question: After describing choices, reps say something like, “John and Mary, earlier I'd mentioned some options to choose from. Most people with a home like yours spend $10,000 on siding. Some are fortunate enough to be able to afford $20,000. Some go for a basic $5,000 package. Tell me which financial category to explore.” Roughly 90% go for the standard midrange package, DeVooght says. “That's the job we're looking to sell.”

American Vision Windows in Simi Valley, Calif., takes a more drastic approach. “The only reason we would ever just suggest the ‘good' is if a customer currently had that type of window in their house and had to finish up that look,” says Al Alfieri, director of marketing and sales.