I really appreciate your well thought out response.
A few questions though; when selling a lighting system, the kind of lights you're going to install never comes into play with your customer? They never want to see how the fixtures are going to look? Because you must have different customers than I have then. That seems to be one of the main things I get asked. At the price we're selling lighting for, most of the people I talk to want to see what the heck it is they'd be paying so much money for. So when I bring out a solid brass Unique Pulsar light and show them that fixture in one hand and give them another plastic fixture from some off brand in the other hand, all of a sudden they perceive the value.
Sometimes even before I get a chance to show them the sample fixtures, people are already asking me about what they're going to look like.
So either you don't get that same experience for some reason, or you just try to change the subject and explain that it really doesn't matter what the fixture looks like? To me, that just seems odd. Marty Grunder has a great column in the current issue of Lawn & Landscape magazine on the subject of "What Customers Want". And his main point in the article is that we all need to do a much better job of listening to what our customers are asking for rather than telling them what they want. To quote from his article, "I am amazed at the number of sales professionals that go right into making suggestions and assuming they know what the client wants before asking questions."
So with that in mind, when someone asks about the the fixtures and what they look like, I feel like I should show them. I've always been proud of what we sell and haven't had any need to hide it. The stuff looks nice as well as being functional! You're saying I should just tell them, "Um. Don't worry about what the fixtures look like. That's not important. What's important is the effect. You're not really going to be seeing the fixtures anyway."
Well, I think a lot of customers would probably just go along with that, just because they don't want to be rude. But inside I bet a lot of them are thinking, "Really? I shouldn't care what they look like??? I'm not ever going to see them?? Huh??? Actually I am going to be seeing the path lights all day, and probably a lot of the spots too. It may not matter to you, but it kinda matters to me. If I'm going to be dropping several thousand dollars I'd like to at least make sure the stuff I'm buying is going to look nice too....." You don't think customers are ever thinking that?
I do agree that customers will often follow your lead. Most of my customers really respect our company and trust me a lot. So most of the time I can steer them whatever direction I want in terms of brand, etc. because of that trust.
I'm not saying the looks of the fixture are the absolute most important thing. I think they're just part of the equation. But to say that the looks of a fixture doesn't matter to customers at all.... my experience says otherwise.
So I started this thread just thinking maybe I could find a way to deliver both - something that looks great AND provides a very efficient and lighting system.
I'm just thinking through different options here on the forum. That's all. I appreciate everyone's input.