Retail education: Educating the buyer works

Home Columns Retail education: Educating the buyer works

by Kelly Kramer

The other morning my fellow salesman and I were talking about what a great streak he is on and what a bad slump I’m in. In essence, he was giving me a pep talk, noticing I’m a streak hitter and he’s much more consistent. When I’m hot, I can set records but when I’m cold, I can set records there as well.

It is kind of like my Colorado Rockies baseball team. Recently, they lost eight straight games and then, in the eighth inning against the Cubs the other night, had a 13-hit inning with two home runs, one triple and five doubles. They scored 12 runs, all with two outs, setting 10 records in that one inning.

When they interviewed a few of the players after the game, one said he simply went back to the basics of hitting by not trying to swing too hard. The next said he was seeing the ball well, while another said that success breeds excitement and more success.

Between talking to my consistent-selling friend and evaluating the Rockies bust and boom, I started to ask myself what I do best when I’m on.

You might think that a guy who writes about good selling skills would follow his own advice more consistently. But my problem is when times are slow I take on a lethargic attitude. When the next customer finally walks in, I’m not really in the mood. Just like success breeds success, a slump magnifies itself.

During my talk with my friend/co-worker, he asked me what I do so well when I’m on the hot streak. Having written about it a few hundred times I quickly replied, “Three things. One: I let people know we do a complementary pre-measure/in-home consultation, so they have a true idea what this is going to cost. Two: I ask how she found our store because most of my business is referral or repeat and that leads to a very comfortable opening conversation.” The one I forget most often is the one that sets me apart: my patented two-minute education. To date, every customer has said yes when I ask if they’d like a two-minute education. So, I start by showing her fiber structures like twist, tip definition, gauge, etc.

During this time I’m asking her more questions from the customer interview: What kind of traffic and staining problems do you have? How long do you want the new carpet to look new? What kind of problems have you had in the past? What styles have you seen so far in your shopping? All of the questions flow nicely when you are giving the two-minute education. You become a helpful advisor. Most of all, you become a real person with similar problems and success stories. What amazes me most is how just a little, basic information to an unknowledgeable buyer makes you an expert. You have now gone from the vulture that is told, “Thanks. We’ll have to think about it,” to my favorite words of all time: “When can you come out to measure?”

When I’m asked to someone’s home I not only know I’m trusted, I know this customer is relieved to finally be done with this process. That’s a true win-win. If you are a guy like me who is not exactly Mr. Charming and gets into slumps, remember that educating your buyer will allow her to respect you and give you a chance to relax and enjoy the process as well.

Once you learn that selling is simply educating and doing what is in the best interest of your buyer, you’ll understand why educating your buyer works. You’ll also understand why I called my first manual “Selling Clean” not “Selling Dirty.”

Thanks for reading.

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