Why Top-Down Selling is Crucial to Your Profits

Don't ever assume what your clients are willing to spend: always show them the best you have.

Why Top-Down Selling is Crucial to Your Profits
Lee Distad · November 21, 2008

Top-Down selling is a sales technique ingrained in every successful company that presents luxury goods.

Once you adopt it and make it part of your company’s practices, you and your clients will benefit enormously.

The underlying principle behind Top-Down selling is that psychologically, no one is ever offended by being shown the absolute best that you have to offer.

It’s a story that we can all relate to. In fact, we’ve all heard variations on the theme from our friends and family.

Would You Like a Porsche or a Volvo?

Imagine if you went to the car dealership determined to buy the Porsche of your dreams, and the salesman took one look at you and suggested that he walk you over to the Volkswagen side of the showroom.

How would that make your feel?

In sales and business development seminars, the speakers talk about the importance of not prejudging and underselling your customers, and everyone in the room nods their heads and agrees.

Yet, it happens every day, all over the place, in one luxury-oriented business or another. It’s so important, I don’t think it can be overstated.

It’s not our place to decide how much our clients should spend; it’s theirs. We can certainly make suggestions, but the focus is always on delivering the best. We certainly shouldn’t be the ones to be doing the downgrading.

How to Effectively Sell Top-Down

It’s simple really: when you meet a new potential client, after getting a handle on who they are and what their needs may be, show them the best, most dazzling example of what you have to offer.

If they’ve chosen to visit you and not a big box store, then it’s very possible that they will say yes. Alternatively, they may ask you to show them something else.

Imagine that you have display units of the good, better and best A/V receivers you carry. If you start the customer at the best and show him what he gets, he may well buy it.

If it’s too much for his wallet, he’ll probably opt for the better model.

If you don’t show the best product but start him at the better, he might buy it. But, that cements his perception of what the highest choice is, and he’s more likely to settle for the good.

I guarantee you won’t sell nearly as many best products that way.

When that happens, both you and your customer miss out.

Why You Need to Showcase the Best

It works exactly that way whether you sell A/V equipment, wristwatches, sports cars, or extravagant home cinemas.

This is why—whether your business is all custom, all retail, or a little of both—you need to display and showcase the best examples of what you do.

If you have retail space, you need to have the flagship products from your vendors on display.

If you are custom-only shop, your showroom’s theater room needs to be fit for a king.

Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.”

Set the bar higher, take pride in what you have to offer, and never, ever decide for your client that you’re going to force them to spend less money than they intended to.

Lee Distad is a freelance CEDIA Certified Professional Designer who offers design and process consultation to firms in the Custom Installation industry, as well as copy writing and other professional writing services. Lee’s business and industry blog can be read at

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