October 24/31, 2016: Volume 31, Number 10
By Jim Augustus Armstrong
(Second of two parts)
“If 10 people walk into your store, how many wind up buying?” is a question I often ask dealers. The national average is about three in 10, so this gives me a benchmark. I know dealers who close seven or eight out of 10, more than double the national average. How is this possible?
One thing these dealers have in common is they get a high percentage of their business from repeat and referral customers. In part one of this series I explained why the single most effective thing you can do to increase your closed-sale ratio is to shift toward repeat/referral business. Here are a couple of practical steps you can take to make that shift:
Market to your customer list every month. Most of the dealers I know who are getting high closed-sales ratios market to their past customers regularly. As previously discussed, a newsletter is an effective way to do this. Use the 90/10 formula: Make your newsletters 90% fun, informative, entertaining content with only 10% about flooring. Sending flooring ads every month is not nearly as effective as a newsletter because only a small fraction of your database needs flooring in any given month.
Ask for referrals. How many installations does your business do on average each month? Have you trained your sales team how to ask for referrals from these customers? And do you market to the people who are referred? If you are skipping these steps you are leaving a fortune on the table, and missing out on an opportunity to increase your closed sale ratio. Getting new flooring is a big event for most customers. It’s a bit like having a baby. Before the installation they talk to friends, family, co-workers, members of their church and neighbors about the upcoming “arrival.” They’ve likely mentioned it on Facebook or other social media. Chances are excellent that someone in their sphere has said, “Who are you getting your floors from? Let us know how it goes because we need new floors.” Who will get that business? You, if you ask for it.
Assuming you’re shifting toward more repeat/referral business, what else can you do to increase your closed-sale ratio? Two powerful ways to move the needle are by creating differentiation and increasing the effectiveness of your sales process. Here are some tips for accomplishing both:
Use scripts. When someone walks in, train your sales team to say, “Hi, welcome to Jimbo’s Floors! My name is Jim. Are you a new or returning customer? A new customer? Great, we have a special program for new customers. Can I take a quick minute and tell you about it?” You’ve just bought yourself half a minute to sell them on the benefits of sitting down for a consultation.
Beverage menu. Hand customers a laminated beverage menu and ask them, “What can I get you to drink?”
Use testimonials. What others say about you is 100 times more effective than what you say about yourself.
Social proof. In addition to testimonials, utilize before-and-after photos of your completed installations.
Online reviews. 92% of consumers now read online reviews vs. 88% in 2014. Make sure you’re asking happy customers to review your business online at Google, Yelp or Yahoo.
If you implement these strategies you will not only close more sales, but you’ll have a big advantage over competitors.