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Approaching Customers For Fun And Profit - Part 4

Furniture World Magazine


Having fun, reducing your customer's fears and other insights into the first pat of the sales process.

This ends Cathy Finney's 4 part series on the "Approach" which started with the June issue. Some of the main points to remember are:

  • Smile! Be real glad to see your customer. Say to yourself, "Here comes "insert your name."
  • Always approach customers from the ftont.
  • Handle browsers. Don't be put off. Remember that their time is valuable and if they took the trouble to visit your store, they are there for a reason. Let them look, have fun with them, make them feel at home.
  • Make their shopping experience easy, painless and fun.
  • Tell them, let them know right up front - "the main reason I am here is to assist you so that I can save you a lot of your valuable time." Today's consumers do not want products - They want solutions!
  • Do not "greet and run." I call these drive-by-greetings! You know what I mean. You approach them, they're rude or they won't talk to you. So you tell them to "go ahead and get started," and you race back to your desk, or the counter. What I lovingly refer to as "the fort." Don't do that!
  • Keep your hands busy and look busy even if you are not. Carry a professional leather portfolio, fabric swatches, or customer floor plans.
  • Don't get put off by rudeness. "Don't let customers intimidate you. They cannot do what you can do. They need your help. That is why they're here! If you can win these people over, they will become the "president" of your fan club."
  • When they enter your store, talk to them like they are a guest, not a customer to be attacked.
  • Defuser #1: Select a collection of your choice and tell them when you return you would like to talk to them. You would like to know their opinion on how they feel about it.
  • Defuser #2 Tell them how you and your company are "unique"


Most of all, have fun! Tell them that they're in for "quite an adventure." The very last thing they expect when shopping for furniture is to have an "adventure."

Remember: We are not working on cures for medical research, or negotiating treaties for world peace! We're talking furniture! It's a sofa! Let's keep this in perspective and never forget the power of play!

One day as I greeted a gentleman his arms flew out in front of him and he declared, "I'm not here to buy anything!" To which my arms flew out in front of me and I replied, "That's great! I'm not here to sell you anything. My job here is to help you. Now, how my I do that?" Did he expect that response from me? Of course not! Have fun! Build a relationship with this person! Play!

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

You see the problem is this. They walk through your front door and they don't know what the rules are. They think you are like all the other pushy clerks they've met in their travels. We've covered this, already. You are not a clerk. You are a pro who is there to assist them. Now you have to tell them that! They do not work here. They do not get the rules by osmosis!

They can get whatever you have down the street. Can they not? Can they get you down the street? Nope. Are you the best? You bet you are!

Let 'em know: What you do here! Why you're here! & why you are the best one to assist them with their decision. We're back to tell 'em what "the rules" are!

Why do they come through your front door with their arms stretched straight out in front of them and the palms of their hands shoved in your face? They don't come out of the womb this way, do they? No, this is a "learned" response. They "learned" it from the furniture industry! They "learned" it every time they ventured out and were attacked at the front door!

dispell your customer's fears

In addition to their physical well-being, they are carrying all this other baggage in with them. Let's take a look at: "Ethel's" greatest fears

1.Everybody over the years has made costly decorating mistakes. "Ethel" has been hearing about them from "Fred" for the past fifteen years! She doesn't want to do that again! There are a lot of dysfunctional rooms out there in "consumerland." They need your help more today than ever before.

Let the consumers who come through your front door know, "I am here to assist you so that you don't make any costly decorating mistakes."

Upon hearing those words, put that way, they'll probably take you home with them!

2. There is a big distrust of the furniture industry. 60-80% off! Off of what?! We have the audacity to wonder why they don't trust us! We really shot ourselves in the foot with this one! Big time!

3. Most people only purchase furniture two to three times in their lifetime. Yep, they're scared. They would rather go grocery shopping or have root canal than buy furniture. It's that painful.

4. It's a big investment. One that they have to live with for a long, long time.

5. She can't picture what "new" is. Plus it will be a "change." Nobody likes change. ("let me just stay in my comfort zone, thank you very much!" That's why they're called "comfort zones.")

This is also where you are really in demand. It's up to you to "paint that picture," and really bring that room to life.

6. They are also terrified that you are going to take their money and they are never going to hear from you again. Please, don't prove them right!

Now do you see why they either "enter fighting" or look like Bambi in the headlights? It's scary out there!

Okay, they just came in. They ventured forth! There goes the door. Let's go see if you are friend or foe? Come on. It's your turn. Have fun! Make them feel at home. Make them feel "safe." Let them know they're with a "pro."

Remember: "here comes . . . (insert your name here!) All this and we're only through "the approach." Is this important in retail? You bet, because if you can't open - you can't close!


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.