Salesmanship: New sell is no sell

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by Warren Tyler

Now that almost everyone seems to have accepted the fact that retail as we know it has changed drastically, it’s time to concentrate on specifics. Store traffic is down in most markets, so it is critical we not lose a customer. But she is a far different customer from those we dealt with even five years ago.

For regular readers of this column, most of this may be repetitious, but I am a firm believer that rote is the best learning method. Compare academic results from the ’50s to what we let out of high schools and even colleges today. First, an amazing statistic gleaned from my research on the subject: Almost 85% of consumers who come into your store have researched the products on the Internet. A good point to remember is customers want product information on your website, not just pictures.

Every customer should be asked if they have an email. When you do ask the question, more than 95% of customers will answer to the affirmative, even the elderly. It is a different world and most people would rather be contacted through email—a non- invasive method of marketing your merchandise. Even grannies and granddads are on Facebook, but that is for another column.

Customers today are far more defensive. It seems the big boxes have taken up the dishonest advertising and promotions of the now defunct national chains and boiler rooms. Although they are more sophisticated, the economy has turned consumers into shoppers desperate for the best value. The problem is getting them to listen and believe why you have the best value. Opening or even approaching the topic of flooring makes them even more defensive, marking you as just another salesperson.

One fact remains clear: If she is in the store she wants to buy; she doesn’t want to be sold. People still buy from people they like. There is truly an art of being liked. Read 20 books by super salespeople who make $1 million a year, and the thread that runs through these very helpful books is they work on making a friend. That means only talking about their client’s interests. If you can read the clues and are able to ask the right questions almost everyone displays these interests openly. They all agree no selling should take place until the customer brings up the subject.

The critical element in sales is you actually have to like people before they will like you. The no-sell method of selling is much more intimate than the so-called relationship selling. Some people just don’t get it. While I have several mill reps who use my material to teach this intimate method of sales to their retailers and understand exactly what I mean, there are others, like a former rep in a discussion group on Linkedin who wrote: “If a salesperson ever tried to get into a personal conversation with me I would walk out!” To me this is an incredibly ignorant attitude.

Creating a personal relationship will separate you from every other salesperson. When you explain the “$37 install,” “3 rooms for $399” or “Buy two rooms and get the entire house free!” is bogus, it will only ring true if they like you. Otherwise, the same information from those who fail to make a connection will seem like “sour grapes.”

With traffic down so drastically, you must make the most of everyone who comes in the door. Most retailers are experiencing an inordinate amount of males coming through the door, 95% of which can’t buy. These are men who have reluctantly agreed with their significant others to purchase new flooring, but with economic conditions as they are, only want her to shop where he perceives they are able to get the best value. Where he makes the connection is where his perception is of the best value.

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