Relax, do the footwork

June 17, 2013

Kramer, Kelly Color 05Volume 26/number 28 June 10/17, 2013

by Kelly Kramer

For many of us old timers in retail flooring sales, we understand there seems to be no rhyme or reason for sales being up or down. The only times I’m pretty sure will be slow are the last two weeks of August and three weeks after Christmas. Then the traditional spikes in business are before any holiday and when folks figure out they are getting money back from taxes.

Periods between those “up” times can be like a roller coaster. For those of us with a tremendous referral, those unstable phases are generally much more common. But recently I find myself scratching my head when I hit those patches when the sales stop for two weeks and it seems most buyers are indecisive or simply can’t buy for some time. 

So you sit on those 10 to 15 estimated jobs like they are an annuity about to pay out. In fact, just last month I had 13 previously estimated jobs close in a two-day period. This created a scheduling problem because most of these jobs were significant, averaging about $4,200 a per job. While that was a personal two-day retail remodel record for me, it was simply a culmination of a couple of weeks of previous footwork.

Changing times

With the way I sell, which is taking my time to warm up to the buyers, conducting a thorough customer interview, properly advising my customers, and then giving an estimate right away (following them home), I normally have a tremendously high closing ratio at customers’ homes. This is because by the time I get to a residence, I know they have made a wise product choice, know a very close approximate total cost (because I’m good at guesstimating in the store), and we have discussed in advance what portion of a deposit is required to start the order. Like I always say, “What’s not to close?”

Well, from the above scenario, apparently a lot. I’ve started to realize that after this long, slow recession we’ve just been through, people are much more cautious on their larger ticket item purchases. They study them more and take longer to come to a final decision. In short, they don’t let that cash go as quickly as they might have six years ago. That means we have to be even better at what we do because when they finally make a decision, they are going to choose the person or company with which they are most comfortable.

Additional steps

To achieve success in sales I went back to thoroughly interviewing and educating buyers. I want them to know I have found them the best products for their situations, which are in their price ranges, and we perform awesome installations. These points stick in their minds when it’s time to decide who gets the order.

The other change I’ve made is performing a premeasure on phone ups when I get a call from a shopper asking for information over the phone. I suggest taking more time and conducting a partial interview, then going out to complete pre-measure. The trick here is you end her shopping and, more importantly, she becomes comfortable with you while she is in the comfort of her own home.

You can then pick the best choice together. In the old days I would not have followed this method and would not think a stack of old, unclosed measures would have any value.  But my thoughts have changed and I now relax and continue to put in the footwork; the payoff is slower but just as significant.

Thanks for reading.

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