Many salespeople just want to be nice. They don’t want their customers to feel that they fit the mold of pushy commissioned salespeople. In doing so, they may fail to meet the needs of their customers and cause them to buy from that pushy salesperson down the street.
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Do your "nice" salespeople send customers out to be sold by the "pushy" salesperson down the street?
Editor’s Note: In the October/ November 2001 issue of FURNITURE WORLD, Cathy Finney looked at how “FUD” also known as fear, uncertainty and doubt, affects salespeople. Salespeople try to be nice, but in so doing, fail to meet the needs of their customers, their own needs and the needs of store management. This month, the discussion of “nice” continues with tools and techniques that can be used to prevent good customers from buying at that not-so-nice store down the street.
IT’S EMPATHY NOT SYMPATHY
Let your client know that you care about how she feels. Let her know that you understand what she’s saying. You, the pro, know that she is a unique individual with specific concerns. You do not treat everyone the same. You know that one size does not fit all. For that reason, you listen. You really pay attention to what she is saying.
Even Michael Hammer who says his left brain is the "size of Wisconsin" recognizes that further reengineering depends on qualities from the right side of the brain: devotion, touch, trust, empathy, and all their touchy-feely cousins.
Yale economist, Robert J. Shiller, is also re-writing the laws of economics, where emotion and psychology dominate numbers! He calls this, "behavioral economics." I call this great! This is what sets our industry apart from so many others. We need to get "touchy-feely" if we are going to help people with their homes. You can’t get too much more personal and important than that! This is a great time for us right brain folks, and it’s just what’s needed to help "Helen."
Create the feeling you want to achieve by explaining to your customers: "Based on what you told me, for that reason I recommend…"
This shows that you are empathetic! This one statement says so many things:
•You are "parroting back" what she said to you. You are helping her visualize.
•You DID listen, because these selections are based on what she told you.
•You are doing this together. You are a team.
•It eliminates ALL objections. What did she do, LIE?
•It gets all of her emotions involved. You’re painting the picture. You are helping her create the feeling she wants to achieve. You are getting her excited.
Remember that buying is an emotional experience. When we don't buy it’s a logical decision. If your customers don’t buy,
you dropped the ball somewhere. You didn’t get them excited enough so that they had to own it!
WHAT ARE THEY EXPERIENCING?
Every so often, step back and try to look at your customers shopping experience through their eyes. Have you set the stage so your professionalism will be obvious? What does your entire production look like?
DWELLING IN CLERKDOM
What do consumers experience as they venture forth into your showroom? Are all of you (salespeople) huddled behind the "fort" having a two minute discussion on who wants to take "this one?" That’s what they’ve seen in every other furniture store in town. You’re not one of those, are you? Flee from the fort! Know when it’s your turn. Get ready, get busy and look busy. Approach them head on with a smile. A real, "just because I like looking at your face" smile. Be looking at their face, not their back! Remember, that clerks chase, professionals approach.
To approach, you have to be ready. If you’re not ready, you end up meeting, greeting, and retreating… to the fort! You know all this. You’ve heard all this before, but how many of you are still "fort dwellers."
IT’S ALL IN HOW YOU SAY IT
When customers enter, welcome them to your showroom, not "store." If they want to browse, invite them to "make themselves at home." Let them know that you will come back in a few minutes and visit with them, and tell them all about the services that we offer here at "Sofas ‘R Us." Do NOT tell them that you will "check on" them. Who "checks" on you? Your mother, your teacher, your boss, a nurse, a waitress, a clerk! You will "visit" with them. That’s more special. That’s they will look forward to. That sets the stage for what they will experience with you!
Let them know how you work. Tell them, "the way that I work with my clients is...." Don’t tell them "the way I "like" to work with my clients is..." Just by inserting that one little word (like), the entire meaning changes. Walter and Louise don’t care what you would like. It sounds like you’re giving them an option. Also, without the "like," your words become a statement of fact. They let Walter and Louise know that if they’re really "cool," then they too can be your client... but only if they play their cards right!
PROFESSIONALS WORK WITH CLIENTS
"Help me out" are instant bonding words. Humans are wonderful. Everyone wants to help. By asking for their help, you have now become "buds." "We’re doing this together. We’re a team." You’ve just built instant rapport.
One consultant in Florida lets everyone know, up front, "I’m here to save you time. I’m here to give you back your weekends!" I love this. Who wants to spend time going all over town looking for a sofa. They end up getting harassed, attacked, followed, and stalked. They end up totally confused.
LET THEM KNOW THE RULES!
Let them know who you are. Introduce yourself to them using first and last names. Tell them what you do and your title. If you don’t have one on your business card, pick one! Let them know HOW you can help them.
Don’t send them down the street to some fast talking salesperson who is going to sell them a green one! Why would you want them to be sold something they don’t want or like, just so you can be "nice."
TAKE YOUR VITAMIN "P" EVERYDAY!
Become a Professional in Process. Polish your Purpose.
In his book, "Crossing the Unknown Sea ~ Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity," David Whyte points out that "success itself told me the game was up for half measures. Halfway will kill you. Even if we already possess the work of our dreams, there is a way of doing that work that will deepen and enliven it."
• Pursue your Passion.
• Personify your Power.
•Let them know that you are here as their Personal Consultant. The Ultimate Professional to assist them!
Don’t send them "down the street," all in the name of "nice!"
Remember, it’s your company, your time, your expertise and your life!
"To have a firm persuasion in our work -- to feel that what we do is right for ourselves and good for the world at the exact same time -- is one of the great triumphs of human existence." -William Blake
Cathy Finney is President of Ancell Affiliates \"T 'N T." She is a noted motivational speaker, sales trainer, and management consultant. Questions can be addressed to her care of FURNITURE WORLD at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
View all articles by Cathy Finney