Shoppers may see red
and blue flashing lights when approached by an RSA. Here are useful skills
to help people relax into the furniture sales process.
Fortunately, it hasn’t happened to me for a few years. I’m
referring to the experience of tooling down a highway while reveling in a
country music or rock ‘n roll daydream. Then, noticing flashing red
and blue lights in the rear view mirror. There’s an initial shock that
only worsens with the realization that it’s your car that’s
being pulled over.
You exit the highway shoulder or a side street. The officer approaches your
window and asks a classic question, “Do you know why I pulled you over
The reason may be as fundamental as rolling through a four-way stop or going
47 in a 35-mph zone. The “do you know why” question is
open-ended and I’m fairly sure that police have used it to get nervous
drivers to admit to running shine outta Alabam’ and to the illegal
interstate transport of Marshmallow Fluff. Even if that’s not the
case, it’s a simple, useful question that helps an officer quickly
size up the driver of a vehicle.
Whether you get pulled over by a local sheriff or the highway patrol, you
must agree that they are a dedicated bunch who have mastered multiple skills
to prepare for unknown situations.
Worst Days at Retail
Even on your worst day at retail, your job probably isn’t close to
being as difficult or dangerous as being in law enforcement. Successful
salespeople, however, do share a common need with the men and women in blue.
It’s the ability to quickly size up their shoppers in order to present
an effective sales presentation.
Known Answer Question
After their greeting, many RSAs like to lead off with a Known Answer
Question. It’s a query they ask even though they already have a
general idea of what the answer will be. It works like a temperature check.
When a shopper expounds on their response, it provides a fair assessment of
how far along the shopper is in their path to purchase.
Can you tell me about your shopping experience so far? Asking this question
lets the RSA know how far and wide the shopper is into the buying process.
There’s little risk in asking this question. If the shopper had a
fully complete experience, they would already be out of the market and not
in your store!
Answers can range from “We just started looking,” or
“It’s so confusing,” to “We can’t seem to find
the right thingamajig.”
The first two answers lead RSAs to logical starting points. For people who
have just begun, you can give them an update on what’s changed and new
in the market. For mattresses, it’s a good time to describe the three
major technologies of Spring, Foam, and Hybrid. You might also tack on
information about advancements in memory foam and cooling elements.
Confused shoppers need reassurance that there is a simple way to make the
best choice. Inside the mattress industry, we say, “the feel is the
deal.” For shoppers, you could restate it as, “Comfort and
support are what leads to a good night’s sleep. Let’s check your
comfort level first.”
It’s hard to imagine that potential buyers can’t seem to find
the right product. From mattresses to furniture, appliances, clothing, and
bottled cola beverages, there appears to be an endless aisle of choices.
Often, shoppers are attracted to a product, but a single obstacle, often
price or availability, blocks their purchase.
What have you seen out there that is close to being perfect for you? This
simple question allows your shopper to describe the product and
retailer—even if it is online—that most closely fits their
needs. Follow up with “what did you like most about it?” The
answer to this follow-up question will hopefully provide key features that
can trigger a purchase.
Why didn’t you buy it? If you’ve done a good job of listening in
an attentive and empathetic manner, you will learn what obstacles you need
to overcome. If it’s availability, then find out how long the shopper
is willing to wait.
If it’s price, you have several options. Start with understanding what
the shopper is willing and able to pay. You can suggest extended financing
to bridge the budget gap or offer lower price items with similar features.
Or, you may just need to be the person that brings them into the hard
reality that the $299 or $399 starting model now costs $699.
Law enforcement officers know that people they pull over can be confused or
stressed. Asking their “why” question allows the driver to fess
up, relieving tension for the average citizen. Shoppers walking into your
store may also feel tense and confused. After all, who wants to be SOLD
That’s why asking potential buyers to share their shopping experiences
allows them the opportunity to talk first. It can relieve the stress of
buying and give you the information you need to help them make a wise
“Successful salespeople need the ability to quickly size up their
shoppers in order to present an effective sales presentation.”
“Law enforcement officers know that people who are pulled over can be
confused or stressed. Asking their ‘why’ question allows the
driver to fess up, relieving tension for the average citizen.”