How to Sell Upholstery When You Don’t Have a Showroom

Upholstered furniture can be an especially lucrative product for interior designers to sell — particularly if they have access to deep discounts with many of the best manufacturers, like we do here at The Designers Collaborative.

Sadly, however, some design professionals miss out on those earnings because they’re intimidated by the prospect of selling upholstery without a showroom. In fact, that’s one of the questions I am most frequently asked: “How do you sell a piece of upholstered furniture to a client if they can’t test it out before buying?”

The answer might surprise you.

The trick, I’ve found, is not in what you tell a client, but in what you ask.

Here’s how to do it in two simple steps:

First, you’ll want to get a sense of your client’s preferences for the fit of an upholstered piece.

The best way to do that is to use their current furniture as a starting point.

Begin by asking your client what they like and dislike about their current sofa — or chair, or whatever upholstered piece they want to purchase — and listen closely to their answers.

Then, ask detailed follow-up questions while they sit on that piece of furniture. (This part is important. It will allow you to actually observe some of the issues that your client might have a hard time putting into words.)

For example, you might ask:

Is the back high enough or would you like it higher?

Do you like the depth of the seat?

How about the height of the arm?

Does the seat cushion feel too soft, too firm, or just about right?

Now, take detailed measurements of that piece. Remember to include the height of the back and arm, as well as the inside depth of the seat — from the inside back of the sofa to the front edge of the cushion. (Knowing the overall depth of the piece might be helpful, but the most important depth measurement in terms of fit is this inside dimension.)

Armed with these measurements and your client’s preferences, you’ll be able to focus your search on pieces that meet their criteria.

Next, you’ll want to understand what level of quality your client is looking for in a piece of upholstery.

You can determine this by asking a few simple questions, such as:

Where do you typically shop for furniture? 

Are you happy with the quality of the pieces you’ve purchased in the past?

Are there any brands or manufacturers you particularly like?

Believe it or not, that’s it.

By the time you’ve finished this conversation — assessing your client’s needs and really listening to their desires — you will find that they trust you and really appreciate what you bring to the design process.

What’s more, you will feel significantly more confident about your ability to find a product that meets all of your client’s requirements, in terms of quality, comfort, and fit. They won’t need to test it out before they buy it. And remember: In sales, confidence is everything!

So now that there’s nothing stopping you from selling upholstery — even without a showroom — why not ensure that you make the maximum possible profit on every piece you sell?

How do you do that? Join The Designers Collaborative, of course! Our members enjoy discounts of up to 66% off retail on many of the most popular manufacturers in all ranges of price and style.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not! You can see how it works here. Take a look and then join us. You won’t believe how easy it can be to totally transform your business!