Salesmanship: Building relationships

Home Columns Salesmanship: Building relationships

by Warren Tyler

A lot of space has been devoted in this column to building relationships as the most important aspect of selling—as it has always been. However, because of today’s more knowledgeable, sophisticated customer and, unfortunately, more aggressive and defensive, the relationship is not only important, it is critical.

We are still in a time warp. As much as I and other sales educators scream out the importance of this, in 99 out of 100 sales encounters the salesperson opens with some inane statement about: “May I help you?” or “Can I point you in a direction?” to which my answer would be, “Yes, out of the store.”

The “new sell” is “no-sell.” I’ve pointed it out a hundred times. Read any book by super salespeople who make $1 million a year and an overriding theme is they never talk about the product they’re selling until the customer is ready.

Why is this so important on a retail sales floor? Because the customer, who is unsure of her future as a result of the economy, is cautious about spending money and every store she enters the salesperson immediately tries to sell her. This only hardens her defenses, making her less confident about a purchase and throws you into the group of just another avaricious salesperson. Everything you say now is just selling.

Let’s say you get over this hump of not diving into the old selling mode. It’s not about you. After a few sessions of actually making friends and developing the relationship, this will become just as comfortable. Moreover you will find that instead of a customer, you will meet a truly enjoyable individual with which to speak.

“OK,” you say. “Now how do I get into this wonderful conversation?” First of all, for most of us it’s awkward to get into an intimate conversation with strangers. It takes courage to try.

People wear their heart on their sleeve. If you live in a lower-income area and someone well-dressed comes through the door, a response could be: “You don’t live in Gloucester, do you?” They will ask why and you might respond that you aren’t used to seeing people this well dressed around here. Many may think this is rude, but I’ve never had a customer not be delighted that I thought she was better dressed than most. This conversation leads to where she lives, what she does for a living or what her spouse does.

Let’s say she is looking for bedroom carpet. The question would be as to whose bedroom this is—girl or boy, age, name, activities, school accomplishments. “Will my dogs slip on this flooring? What kind of dogs? Knowing the physical and mental traits of different breeds is more important than product knowledge. What is his or her name and the conversation continues. Getting on common ground is the gateway to relationships. Never let this pass. If you don’t like kids and dogs, get out of the business.

Adversity is the surest way of bonding. Be the friend her friends and relatives won’t be. Ask about any infirmity or injury. Believe it or not, people love to talk about their problems. It makes you a unique friend because her friends and relatives don’t want to hear it. It’s the same thing with tragedy—death of a loved one or fatal illnesses. Many people shop to alleviate their grief and they always welcome the opportunity to talk about it with a caring person.

Next time, I’ll give you more on the subject. Remember, it takes courage to be a real human and moreover, great salespeople know they have to be able to give the same love and respect to strangers that lesser people can only give to friends and relatives.

Must Read

Shaw Industries, Encina announce carpet recycling partnership

The Woodlands, Texas — Encina Development Group, a producer of ISCC+ circular chemicals from end-of-life plastics, has announced a new recycling partnership with Shaw...

What’s new with moldings, accessories, sundries

As flooring professionals know all too well, a job isn’t complete until the proper finishing touches—moldings, accessories, sundries—have been installed. With so much importance...

Pergo Extreme expands product offering

Calhoun, Ga.—Pergo Extreme is continuing to expand its portfolio with 16 new introductions and advancing its existing waterproof warranty by adding WetProtect technology to...

How some flooring dealers make ecommerce work

The idea of ecommerce is still in its infancy within the world of flooring. While the concept has found success within some home improvement-related...

CFI, NWFA recognize FCEF training program

Dalton—The Certified Flooring Installer (CFI) program and the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) will offer credit toward their certifications for students completing the Floor...

CARE to increase carpet differential assessment

Dalton—CalRecycle directed the California Carpet Stewardship Program (CARE) to increase the carpet differential assessment effective April 1, 2023. The increase is necessary, according to...
Some text some message..