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Effective Retail Sales Management

Furniture World News Desk on 4/20/2016

by Jeff York

Here it is 2016 and you have a new job. Because your performance as a salesperson has been outstanding the owner of your store has promoted you to “Sales Manager”! Wow, this is great you tell yourself. Now I get to tell the sales staff what to do! So you head in to the store on your first day with your new job to a “sales meeting” with the owner. The owner has a spreadsheet waiting for you that shows you what the store did last year in sales and promptly tells you that in order for the store to maintain its profitability, sales have to increase by 20%. You head out of the meeting armed with the information you need for your meeting with the sales staff.

You stand before them with a stern, no nonsense look on your face and you say; “Good morning. I’m glad to see everyone could make it to our sales meeting. As you know I been promoted to Sales Manager and I will now be leading our sales team. My first order of business is to let you know that the owner expects a 20% increase in sales over last year and I’m determined to make sure you get that increase. Anyone who does not increase their sales by 20% will not have a job next year! I’ll be monitoring your sales on a monthly basis and anyone not meeting this quota will meet with me to find out why. Does everyone understand? Good; I’ll be watching every one of you. I’ll have no slackers on my sales team! Now, go sell some furniture!”

Is this the kind of sales manager you have at your store? A better question might be; Are you this type of sales manager? You know, the type that sees their role as Commander or General of the sales team and goes around barking out orders and threatening the sales team with their jobs. I suppose at some point in the past this must have been an effective strategy for sales managers. I still see it even today!

I’m going to share with you 3 ideas that I picked up years ago on management. I came across them when I read Kenneth Blanchard’s book The One Minute Manager. Mr. Blanchard suggested that effective managing came down to doing these three activities every day; One minute goal setting, One minute praising and One minute reprimands. An effective manager does not try to manage their team but, instead, teaches the team how to manage themselves.

Once you’ve spelled out the goal for the store it’s time for you to work with each member of your sales team to set their daily goals. Have them write it down so they can read it first thing in the morning. This instantly gives them direction for the day. It very much like consulting a road map before you begin a trip which shows you your destination and the best path to get there. As you help your team set their sales goals let them know that you genuinely believe that they can reach them and that you value them as an important member of the sales team. Sales people often have short term memory loss so this reinforcement needs to be done often.

The next activity the effective sales manager should engage in is one minute praising. You accomplish this by purposefully catching your sales team members doing something right and taking a minute to praise them for it. It could be anything from bringing in a new customer to effectively handling a customer service problem and more. What makes this activity so effective is that it is contrary to what most salespeople expect from a sales manager. They only expect a visit from the sales manager when they’ve botched a sell or forgotten to call a customer back promptly. Genuinely praising your sales team members for their good work earns their respect and promotes more good work. Makes sense, right?

The last activity for an effective manager, according to Mr. Blanchard, is by far the most difficult to master; the one minute reprimand. It is not difficult to spot negative behavior in your sales staff. Our brains are wired to spot the negative in our daily lives without conscious thought. What is difficult is how you explain this to your sales team member. Always remember to reprimand the behavior, not the person. We all make mistakes and we don’t really mind someone coaching us on how to do the behavior to get a positive result. Here is an example of a one minute reprimand;

  1. Here is why you got a negative result
  2. This will make it a positive result
  3. You are a valuable member of my sales team and I know you can make this change
  4. Forget about it

When you incorporate these three activities, one minute goal setting, one minute praising and one minute reprimanding, into your daily management style you will see changes in the results of your sales team you did not think could be possible. If you are really serious about becoming a first class Sales Manager get Kenneth Blanchard’s book The One Minute Manager and read it often. You will become one of the other 13 million people who have read his book. Good managing!

Jeff York is a veteran of the furniture industry with over 15 years of experience in management and consulting. He was a Managing Partner for the furniture division of a consulting and liquidation firm where he prepared marketing packages and managed store closing events for furniture stores from Sarasota Florida to Cleveland Ohio. Currently Mr. York consults with small business owners and prepares custom marketing packages for furniture store owners who want to do their own Store Closing, Going Out Of Business or other High Impact furniture event. To find out more about what Mr. York can do for you visit his website at www.diyfurnpromo.com.
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