Show your best before you discuss the rest.

That's the selling strategy of some of the most financially successful interior design professionals. They talk about and showcase their highest end products and services at the outset, before rolling out lower-priced alternatives.

Theirs is a "save the best for first" sales philosophy.

It's a contrarian sales approach, a stark contrast to the far more common practice in the design industry of catering first and foremost to a client's budget. Proponents of the "top down" sales technique maintain that most residential and commercial design prospects don't have a budget in mind and are, in fact, clueless about the costs involved with design, remodeling and furnishings.

These "show your best first" advocates argue that designers do their clients — and themselves a disservice by forcing them ahead of time to come up with some arbitrary and meaningless budget number. They say clients can't find clarity about their design budget until they are educated about all the choices, beginning with the top-of-the-line options.

They stress the importance of keeping an open mind going into each sale, never presuming what clients can't afford nor speculating how much money they have or don't have.

Successful design professionals sell these pricier products by taking the focus off price, and talking instead about their long-term value, durability and reliability. Dealers of the highest end kitchen cabinets, for example, refer to them as "investments" that substantially enhance a home's value, and eventual resale value.

Top-down selling is a common denominator for success for leading designers from coast to coast. It's a key part of their sales arsenal that they consider every bit as important as upselling, cross-selling, add-on selling and other more conventional sales practices.

Years ago, Hunter Douglas discovered the technique to be a favorite practice of its dealers with the best track record of selling the most expensive window treatments.

The company surveyed its top 100 North American dealers of Luminette privacy sheers, and discovered that one thing they had in common was a commitment to display them prominently and discuss them enthusiastically.

"Show the best first, and people get an emotional attachment," said Bob Berstein, the owner of Miles Park Window Treatments in Beachwood, Ohio. "It's hard to get them to back down. No one wants to go from a Cadillac to a Volkswagen."

Added Victor Fernandez of Biscayne Décor in Coral Gables, Florida.: "If you show them, you sell them." Many of the dealers displayed and sold motorized Luminettes, the highest priced model of this high priced product.

Those professionals who most consistently sell luxury design services and products tend to be skilled self-promoters. They point out the fact that, as the best, they show the best. It's a powerful message that helps justify a powerful strategy: top-down selling.

To hear some top designers tell it, clients find a way to afford what they fall in love with, and the only way to get prospects to fall in love with your highest end services and products is to display and discuss them.