View all articles by Cathy Finney
“Human beings have an inalienable right to reinvent themselves.” -Germaine Greer-
More than a few home furnishings retailers saw lower traffic and sales this summer. How did that make your sales and design associates feel? Well, their attitude in this tight economy probably depends on their personality type.
Gerhard Gschwandtner publisher of “Selling Power,” points out five personality types that are particularly vulnerable to changes that often accompany economic downturns.
Approval Seekers: Managers have to readjust during a slow economy. “Seekers” get less attention. They feel more inadequate, and their performance falls.
Perfectionists: During these stressful times, perfectionists suffer from depression. They tend to equate uncertainty with anxiety. This personality needs to now work harder & smarter.
Worrywarts: They are doom & gloom. They create disaster scenarios in their minds. These people need to focus on each step of the sales process. They need to concentrate on goals & monitor their sales. Worrywarts also need to find a way to disengage from their thoughts of doom and gloom. One way is to go on a media diet. Stop watching cable news and reading newspapers for the week. Instead, take this time to do something positive for yourself. Don’t engage in negative conversations either. Going on this kind of diet just may improve your outlook… and you don’t need to give up carbs!
Pathological Optimists: They delude themselves into thinking that they don’t need to change the way they approach the sales process.
The Easily Frustrated: These sales associates complain that they’ve been working too hard and that life is not fair. They need to be reminded that everyone may be in the same boat, but they are in control of their own sales volume.
If your people are having a hard time staying “up” for their “UPS,” just get them to follow these simple steps:
- Get out from behind the desk, counter, or station area.
- Do not sit, stand, or meander anywhere near the front door.
- DO NOT FLUFF (They know what you’re doing!)
- Misery loves company, but not your company!
Yes, I know it can be very hard on your ego, your morale and on your wallet when all the financial experts speak of doom and gloom. Yes, the cost of filling up your tank keeps getting higher, the world situation seems dismal and the stock market bounces like a yo-yo. It becomes increasingly difficult not to “BUY IN” and then… you may come down with a case of Excusitis. You know that you have a particularly bad case when you hear yourself saying…
- “We don’t have any traffic. I only had 2 “ups”all day!”
- “We’re not running any advertising.”
- Everybody’s just wants to “browse.”
- “They’re all rude!”
So, Where are those 2 opportunities? What did you do with them? Why did they come in to the store? What did they want to buy for their room and when did they want it? If traffic is slow, get into your follow–up files. Pick up the phone, get those be-backs back. Remember that close rates on return customers can be 80% or more. Pros create their own traffic.
If advertising budgets are squeezed and face diminishing returns, do your own advertising. Get on the phone, contact old clients, send out mailers and emails, ask for referrals and prospect for new customers. Conduct your own in-store events.
Don’t worry about browsers. Of course people want to browse. They don’t know if they want to own anything you have in your store. They are not there to have fun. They simply want to see if you and your store can help them to create beautiful and useful rooms.
And the rude ones… they are probably as worried as you are about the economy… so change your perspective, your approach and win them over!
In his book, “Time Power: A Proven System for Getting More Done in Less Time Than You Ever Thought Possible.” Brian Tracy proposes a five-step solution to ignite you and get you to the finish line.
- Create a detailed plan of action. Label each item in order of importance. (A , B, C, etc.). Put your ideas in writing.
- Detailing your plan in black and white gives you a blueprint and “seeing it” this way makes it come to life.
- Clean it up. Cleaning up your workspace is a great motivator.
- Separate the urgent from the important. Start on tasks that require immediate action -- large important tasks with considerable future value.
- Practice creative procrastination. Tracy says that, “The difference between effective and ineffective people is that effective people procrastinate on the things that don’t really matter.”
When you play to win. Prepare to win. Prepare, and then prepare some more. How many times have you literally thrown a presentation together as your client is pulling into the parking lot! Including personalized details in a presentation shows “Ethel” that you care about her room and her business. Showing that you care builds trust and may just cause her to care about giving you her business.
Chet Holmes, author of “The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies” says that, “Too many people don’t prepare. They don’t think through all the strategic objectives. As a result, they achieve only a tenth of their objective.” One-tenth?
To kick yourself into high gear, and get the other 9 tenths, he says that:
- You need to school yourself. “Preparation,” he says, “can be summed up in one word: education… go in and demonstrate an expertise in, and an understanding of, the challenges the client faces everyday.” The really smart people never graduate. They read, study, learn, and grow. They also sign up for People Skills #101. They know the competition. They know their strengths, their weaknesses, and how they conduct their business. They’ve analyzed their pricing, selection, and services that they offer. They develop product specific knowledge and design skills. They enter the “University of Ethel.” They know her likes, her dislikes and the name on every branch of the family tree.
• You should ask the questions that build rapport. This simple act takes them to the next level in the relationship, setting them apart from the competition.
• Comparison shopping should be on your to-do list every week. Know your furniture foe, and not just where they live. Selection, pricing structure and availability are all investigated and analyzed. Become a student of sales. Watch the “selling styles” of other associates, noticing how they turn browsers into buyers… or not!
Mr. Holmes sums it up this way: “Be a partner... and be in for the long haul.” That means that you shouldn’t throw out their card, because all they bought was a lamp! Even if they browsed and left without buying, it is important to remember that the furniture buying process is a long one that requires nurturing through intelligent follow-up.
GO ON THE OFFENSIVE
P.T. Barnum once said, “Without promotion something terrible happens – NOTHING!” So how are you marketing “Me, Inc.?” What creative ideas have you been implementing? If the answer to that question has you staring at your shoes, it’s OK. That’s why you’re reading this!
And finally, your sales will soar when you collaborate with your clients. Too many companies focus 99% of their energy on creating new and only 1% on collaborating and co-creating with their clients. Reach out to your customers for innovative ideas.
Read more about how customers can contribute to your business in “Outside Innovation: HOW the Customer will co-design Your Company’s Future,” By Patricia Seybol.
That’s all for this installment. So get out of the Fort, take steps to engage customers, improve your attitude and make the most of every new opportunity.
Cathy Finney is President of Ancell Affiliates\”T ‘N T.” She is a noted motivational speaker, sales trainer, and management consultant. Questions on any aspect of sales training or sales management can be sent to Cathy care of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her toll free at (877-FINNYFX). See all of Cathy’s articles on furninfo.com in the Sales Skills Index. Call 877-235-3095 for more information on her audio learning courses: “Pass the Power, Please!” on retail management; “House Calls” on how to do more and more profitable house calls; and “The Marketing of Me Inc.” on how to follow-up to turn retail customers into clients for life.