Sips and Tips

Do you suffer from analysis paralysis?

Colorful transparent paper question marks in the corner on a white background.

Have you ever gone into a grocery store for a few things then found yourself walking out 45 minutes later wondering if you’d been abducted by aliens? Like, seriously, you were just running in to grab a few things – actually saying to yourself: I can make this in 7 minutes flat, door to door. But then every aisle has you desperately questioning: Do I need this? Am I out of that? Am I almost out of those? Does my neighbor’s pet need catnip? (They have a dog.) Then somewhere between the bananas and the coffee – poof! Time has mysteriously disappeared.

If you can relate to the Twilight Zone grocery store experience, then you can relate to the viewpoint your clients have when faced with a lineup of door samples. Too many options can make this phase of the selection process frustrating at best and in a worst-case scenario, customers are so overwhelmed that they are unable to decide, experiencing analysis paralysis, a state of mind where questions pile high like cases of soda on an end-cap and no decisions are made.


In the context of presenting style options to your clients, the guiding rule is: less is more. In our world of “everything at your fingertips,” we’re becoming numb to the infinite number of options and are looking for the one in the crowd that stands out. But how do we help your client find the one?

1 or 2, 2 or 3

When showing your client finish samples, they’re best represented in daylight/similar lighting against a neutral gray background and in an upright position.

Instead of presenting style and species/finish at the same time, think of each as a separate layer; start with color or style based on your client’s initial input. For example, your client may have a collection of favorite kitchen photos, and let’s say the majority are of white painted cabinetry. You can tackle the color conversation first by showing them sample number 1 – Sea Salt, a crisp “who needs coffee” arctic white — right alongside White Icing, a lovely balance of warmth and brightness. Ta-dah! The binary selection process is engaged, color choice is made, the client is feeling brilliant, and on you go to the next layer, selecting a style.

Novice or Maven

Your client can range from being a beginner, where the term Transitional has a very different meaning in their mind than yours, to being well-versed and ready to talk in style terms, like Farmhouse, or Fixer-Upper and for the love of #shiplap! For me, design style categories and door styles don’t always easily connect in the mind, so I’d suggest talking in general door style groups. By starting here, you can avoid confusion on what your client means when they say “modern,” and move forward by engaging the binary selection process: presenting options in twos and replacing one with a similar, but different, style after each response.

Example 1: Bella with Potter’s Mill

Your client may lean towards one style more significantly, or they might like both! Since you’re presenting two options, it’s quite possible that neither is the desired style they’re imagining. The key is to be prepared with your collection of style groups. This will help establish the foundation from which you will continue to expand on.
Now based on Example 1, let’s say they like Potter’s Mill. While it may seem like you could seal the deal here, it’s important to rule out potentially dangerous afterthoughts when your client drives away, like “Why didn’t our designer show us ________?” By showing them the next style option, you will achieve a more confident commitment on their part. Said another way, by showing them what they don’t like, they will feel more certain about their decision on what they do like.

Example 2: Potter’s Mill with Mission, Potter’s Mill with Park Place

The next door could be an upgrade from Potter’s Mill to Mission or Park Place. (Example 2) With Mission, you could explain that it has a slightly wider frame, lending to a more distinct look – not as common as Potter’s Mill. With Park Place, you can explain that it has a wider frame and detailed inside profile, lending itself to a more upscale and traditional version of shaker style. And finally, let’s say they choose the look of Mission. To lock it in, you can then show them Sonoma, Loxley or Ellison, which are all forms of shaker style, but geared towards modern style. Or if they chose Park Place, you could show them York, Devonshire or Calistoga. These are all forms of shaker style but shift towards traditional style. These subtle shifts, 1 or 2, 2 or 3, 3 or 4 are a great way to present options that align with the way our brains are designed to process and make selections.

The manner in which I’m grouping the doors, as I mentioned, is to generalize by overarching style and shape. Of course, this isn’t the only way to go about it – you can create a method that works best for you in your market. It will take an investment of your time on the front end but will result in a more streamlined selection process for all of your clients. Think of it like organizing your wardrobe by color, only better, since door styles don’t get removed as fast as you change your clothes! I use four major groups for categorizing our doors, based on trends and terms I think are relatively understandable or can be easily explained:

  1. Shaker
    This term is pretty familiar to most and covers a wide range of styles. I include five-piece styles with narrow to medium width stiles/rails in flat panel and reverse raised center panels here (mitered or mortise/tenon).
  2. Classic
    This is also a term many can relate to and includes a wider range of styles from traditional to casual and those with raised and beaded center panels.
  3. Transitional
    Ahhhh…everybody’s favorite! The style term that is over-used and oh so popular. This category simply described is the modern version of traditional. This includes wide frame shaker, with flat, reverse raised and raised center panels.
  4. Unique
    As its name implies, I reserve this category for styles like Bella, Bahamas, and Yukon as they fall into very specific or unique style themes, like modern for Bella or rustic for Yukon.
Did you know that there are 31 flat center panel styles on Medallion’s website? Plus another 25 reverse raised center panel options? Showing your client all of these options at once may lead to confusion and frustration and potentially the loss of the sale.

The style/finish selection process is one of the most important steps in your client’s project, and they need to feel like you introduced all of the information without overwhelming them, unlike the cereal aisle at the grocery store. (Seriously, that aisle has simply gone mad!) Just remember to keep it simple, take it slow and present no more than two styles at a time. This is a life-altering experience for your client and door selection is one area you can effectively make the journey enjoyable!

See you next week, unless I get trapped at the grocery store!

How do you discuss and present door style options to your client?

Have you ever created door style groups or would this be a useful tool if it were available from Medallion?

Please post your thoughts below.

Want to learn more about what it takes to become a sales ninja? Elkay’s Robb Best presents on topics like binary selection for our customers. To attend a workshop, inquire with your Sales Rep. You can also learn more about this and other topics on Robb’s blog: Mindframe.