Tropitone Furniture Co., a leading manufacturer of fine casual furniture, is expanding Tropitone University, a program which it introduced three years ago to provide dealers with a complete set of learning tools for their sales associates who sell Tropitone’s casual furniture, including the Basta Sole umbrella and shade solutions.
According to Michael Echolds, chief executive officer of Tropitone, the major elements of the program available to dealers across the country through Tropitone sales representatives are: a Sales Training Manual, a Fundamentals of Selling Video, a Product Knowledge Video and Tropitone Sales Builder, which is a regular newsletter.
“In addition,” Echolds said, “this year Tropitone University is taking a two and a half hour training presentation led by a Greg Welsh, a sales training consultant with nearly 20 years of retail experience, on tour to 30 select cities.
“In today’s evolving competitive marketplace,” Welsh said, “every professional needs and benefits from ongoing training. Just as professional athletes who want to remain competitive can never stop training – no matter how successful they are – neither can other professionals, including sales professionals. Tropitone University is about offering such training to the sales associates at Tropitone dealers so they are as well-informed and savvy as today’s sophisticated consumers,” he said.
“Overall,” Echolds said, “the focus of Tropitone University is on who today’s customers are, what they think and what they want. Since it is not primarily product-centered, the individuals who participate in Tropitone University are better at selling everything, including the outdoor lifestyle. Such a program gives Tropitone’s sales representatives a way of adding value for our dealers that differentiates them and creates a competitive edge," he said.
According to Welsh, one key challenge for sales professionals today is the “discount mentality” created in part by the ‘Wal-Mart’ experience. Often customers go to retailers looking for the lowest price rather than the best overall value. The Tropitone University training encourages sales associates at specialty retailers to respond to such barriers as the “discount mentality” in a proactive way – otherwise such barriers left unaddressed will result in a lost sale.
“For example, by initiating a more open dialogue with these potential customers,” Welsh said, “knowledgeable sales associates, who are at the heart of the shopping experience at specialty retailers, can remind shoppers that value is not just about price, but a combination of great product, quality and service, which all add up to the best overall value. In contrast, shoppers at mass market retailers have no real access to information that clarifies differences in quality and service and, therefore, the only difference is price,” Welsh said.
According to Echolds, specialty retailers also have a unique opportunity to show potential customers the benefits of investing in an outdoor lifestyle. “With the increasing popularity of ‘outdoor rooms,’ many customers want to bring the same comfort and sophistication enjoyed inside their homes to the outdoors. Investing in quality outdoor casual furniture that has a reputation for durability as well style then becomes more important to these customers than finding the lowest priced product,” he said.
Founded in 1954, Tropitone is based in Irvine, California, and is recognized throughout the casual furniture marketplace for its design leadership as well as its commitment to service and value. The company sells its products to retailers, designers and the hospitality trade under the Tropitone and Basta Sole trademarks. In addition to its headquarters and manufacturing plant in Irvine, the company operates a manufacturing facility in Sarasota, Florida. For more information about the company, visit www.tropitone.com.
Furniture World Magazine-Business solutions for furniture retailers