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Approaching Customers For Fun And Profit - Part 1

Furniture World Magazine
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Article Summary: You made a good first impression (See the May issue of FW). Now it's time to approach those customers. This first in a three part series on "The Approach," deals with appearance, attitude, handling browsers and making your customer's shopping experience start out happily.

View all articles by Cathy Finney


The Approach: Ready or not here I come!

Okay. The door just opened. It's your turn. You're UP! Yes, you're ON!!! But first, take a thirty second inventory of yourself. Are you together?

Ladies, are both earrings on or did you leave one by the phone?

Gentlemen, where did you leave your jacket? Get that tie out of your pocket!

Are you smiling? As H. Jackson Brown says, "When you feel terrific notify your face!"

I used to play a mental game to keep my self "UP!" When it was my turn, as I headed to the door, I chanted to myself ~ "Here comes Cathy Finney. Here comes Cathy Finney. This is your lucky day! Here comes Cathy Finney!"

See, you're smiling! Works every time!

One consultant that I shared this information with was just great. She called me after her first month on the sales floor to let me know that she wrote $48,000 worth of sales. She was so excited!

"Cathy, Cathy, I owe it all to you. Every time I went to greet my new "up," I kept saying to myself, 'Here comes Cathy Finney. Here comes Cathy Finney.' It really works! Thank you. Thank you!"

You'll probably want to insert YOUR NAME. However, if you'd rather use mine -- that is just fine with me. Either way -- You Win!

Just remember, that when they walk through the door, be R-E-A-L glad to see them. You better be. As we discussed in the May issue, you only get one shot at this!

NEWS FROM "THE FRONT!"

Always approach them from the front! Head on - face to face. Look 'em in the eye. Do not attack at the front door.

Give them a minute to get accustomed to their surroundings. Now YOUR space becomes THEIR space. Their defenses come down. If they've been furniture shopping they've been pounced upon all day. Make their experience with you "one to remember." Do not let it be another instant replay of every other furniture store!

Note to owners. Give them 30 seconds: It's okay to give your customers 30 seconds upon entering. It really is okay!

When you approach them from the FRONT, they have to look at you. It's harder for them to be rude when they have got to look you dead in the eye!

When you approach them from the back, you look and sound extremely attractive. "Excuse me, excuse me, excuse . . ." You look, and sound like a wind up toy! You really don't think that they are going to stop, do you? Please forget about them turning around! Plus by approaching them from the back - you just scared them! It's extremely difficult to build rapport when they're having "heart palpitations!"

Even when you approach them from the SIDE you're in trouble. Their arms shoot straight out from the side of their body and you get the palm of their hand in your face! They become instant school patrols! Not an attractive sight!

Circle around. Cut them off at the pass! Whatever you have to do. Just make sure that you approach them from the front. Head on.

BROWSERS & BUYERS: BOTH BEGIN WITH A "B"

When do you start to close a sale? That's right! You got it! The minute you approach them and open your mouth. It's the moment of truth. It's your time to shine. Make sure they can at least see you! Clerks - chase! Professionals - approach! Which one are you? What does this say about you and your company, "Me, Inc.?"

Browsers and buyers. Both words start with "B!"

Ninety-nine point nine percent of the "shopping population" is going to "announce" that they just "want to browse," or "I'm just looking," when they come through the front door. the secret here is to make sure that you do not believe them!

It's their "entrance line." It's a "reflex." It's so automatic that they don't even realize they are saying it! Do you say it all the time when you go shopping?

Why do you do that? You must have a reason for being there. Well, guess what? So does "Ethel!"

Let's say I'm a magic wizard. I now grant you three extra hours in your day that you can do whatever you choose. The time is all yours to do with what you will.

Ladies, you first. Would you go and "just look" at merchandise in a bait and tackle shop? How about you gentlemen? Would you "browse" through a fabric store looking for buttons! See what I mean. If they cross your threshold, they are there for a reason.

Is your store inside a shopping mall? No? It's free-standing all by itself? A-ha! A destination stop. If they drive to your parking lot, get out of their car, and walk in - are they making an effort to get there? Oh, yes. Guess what? They're there for a reason. They're interested in something you have. That's why it's called a destination stop!

I always buy my shoes from the same store. When I go there I need a pair of shoes. I have very little time to shop, so at that moment I am a woman on a mission. Upon entering, they all ask if "they can help me." My response, "no, I'm just looking." Why do I say that? I am there for a pair of shoes. But first, I have to see if they have anything that I would want to try on. That I would want to own! That is where your customer is coming from. They have to "look around" first to see exactly what you have! They must "investigate" to determine if you have anything for them. This is especially true if it is their "first visit" to your showroom.

But - we hear the "B" word and not only do we "believe" them, we "let" them look. We run away! We get lost. Never to re-appear!

I was extremely bad at this during my first attempt at retail. When they said that "all they wanted to do was browse," I believed them! So I would go running to the owner in dismay. "Joe, I have another 'lookey loo.' can I have another up?" Of course, I couldn't have another "up."

So he'd push me back out on the sales floor to handle "this one." I wasn't going to get another one until I found out why this one was here!

One sales consultant told me her formula for handling the "browsers."

She said, "you want to browse? That's great! That's the fun part! You need to do that!"

Is that terrific? What a wonderful way to relax them and make them feel comfortable in your surroundings. Nobody expects you to react that way! Have fun with the "browsers!"

Remember that you can say the "B" word back to them. You're allowed! It's okay. "please, by all means browse. Make yourself at home."

MAKE THEIR EXPERIENCE
EASY, PAINLESS & FUN

I would tell everyone I greeted. "I'm here to make this easy, painless & fun! My job is to do all of the work so that you have none of the worry!" You can't get anymore non-threatening than that.


Cathy Finney is President of Ancell Affiliates and "T 'N T." She is a noted motivational speaker, sales trainer, and management consultant. Her latest audio tape series on follow-up is called "The Marketing of "Me, Inc." - Taking Your Company Into the Next Millennium!" 10 audio tapes plus a comprehensive "how-to" manual that helps your people turn all the customers into "clients!" Questions can be addressed to her care of FURNITURE WORLD at finney@furninfo.com.

 


Cathy Finney, effervescent sales educator, motivator and  management consultant was a longtime contributing editor to FURNITURE WORLD Magazine. Cathy helped retail furniture store sales and design associates to turn customers (she called them Fred and Ethel) into clients. An enthusiastic mentor and friend to up-and-coming salespeople, she told them to remember that they are skilled professionals and that “Ethel” needs them to get the best possible result for her room or project. 

Finney got her start in the furniture business with Ethan Allen where she worked closely with Furniture Hall of Fame member Nathan Ancell. Her company, Ancell Affiliates \"T 'N T" resulted from that close relationship. She passed away at 59 years of age after a long struggle with Multiple Sclerosis. For more information about Cathy and here work email editor@furninfo.com. 




View all articles by Cathy Finney

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