Al’s Column: How to be a true sales professional

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October 24/31, 2016: Volume 31, Number 10
By Tom Jennings

When training our sales staffs’ desirable behavior, we seem to place virtually all of our emphasis on the proper ways to conduct ourselves while in our showrooms. This is both understandable and necessary since this is typically where most first impressions are formed. However, it seems the majority of managers spend little time coaching winning behavior at the place where a number of sales are consummated—the customer’s home. While some may perceive that selling in-home is the same as in our stores, this is not the case.

Tom Jennings

I have found most of the rules change when we become the guests and the customers have “home court advantage.” Well-trained salespersons realize the need to focus on everything from initially approaching a customer’s door to making an impressive exit. A customer will respond very differently sitting at her dining room table than she will sitting at the design table in your store.

A common trait that all successful in-home salespeople have is preparedness. Before approaching the customer’s door, they always make sure to give themselves every opportunity to succeed. Prepared in-home salespeople:

  • Check their grooming and freshen their breath
  • Dress respectfully and professionally
  • Turn off their phones to focus solely on the task at hand
  • Carry sufficient samples in their vehicle to make a quality presentation
  • Arrive with the correct tools to gather information
  • Always have an ample supply of sales agreements, collateral materials, etc.
  • Carry a pair of overshoes to slip off at a customer’s door in the event of inclement weather.

They do so knowing they cannot just go to their desks to retrieve simple items like they can do in the store.

Most importantly, successful in-home salespeople examine their attitude. Remember that your customer doesn’t care about your day—she’s just concerned with the next few minutes. They recognize that she’s paying their wages today. They focus on her, not the samples.

While these are small details, they are hardly insignificant. Pros know that any small detail that slows down the flow of the sales process will always work against them. Remember, one of the measurements the customer is judging you by is how important you are making her feel. Being properly prepared shows her this appointment is important to you and conveys a feeling of respect.

It is important to remember that you are in the customer’s home to not only examine the conditions in which the flooring will be installed, but more importantly to learn about who will be using these products. Take the time to make an emotional connection and ask about the customer’s children, animals, etc.

While this may take some time, I feel that there is no better use of the first few minutes in a customer’s home. Always remember that we buy with emotion first—then we justify with logic.

Remember there is only one opinion that matters here and it’s not yours. Only when you take the time to learn these emotional hot buttons can you sell the customer what she really wants as opposed to just what she needs. And let’s be honest, we will all pay more for things that we really want.

Virtually every installed flooring sale requires an in-home visit of some nature. To be a true sales professional learn to be a great guest.


Tom Jennings is the vice president of professional development, WFCA, and speaker at The International Surface Event in Las Vegas. His two sessions; Selling the Value of Quality Installation and The Customer’s Home, Your Other Showroom will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 9–10:30 a.m. and Thursday, Jan. 19, at 8-9:30 a.m., respectively. For more information on registering for the show, visit to view a full list of the education programs.


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