Lessons learned: Honoring the shopper’s ‘home-field’ advantage

Home Columns Lessons learned: Honoring the shopper’s ‘home-field’ advantage

January 8/15, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 15

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 very little time coaching winning behavior at the place where a great number of the sales are consummated—in the customer’s home. While some may perceive that selling in-home is much the same as in our stores, this is not the case at all.

I have found most of the rules change when we are the guest and the customer has the “home court advantage.” Well-trained salespeople realize there needs to be focus placed 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 all successful in-home salespeople have is they arrive prepared. Before they approach the customer’s door, they always make sure they are giving themselves every opportunity to succeed. They check their grooming and freshen their breath. They are dressed respectfully and professionally. They turn off their phones to focus solely on the task at hand. They carry sufficient samples in their vehicle to make a quality presentation. They arrive with the correct tools and supplies to help gather information. They always have an ample supply of sales agreements, collateral materials, etc. They do so knowing they cannot just go to their desks to retrieve simple items like they can do in the store.

Most importantly, they examine their attitude. Remember: Your customer

doesn’t care how your day has been going so far—she’s just concerned about the next few minutes. They recognize that she’s paying their wages today. They focus on her, not the samples.

In short, they prepare to be successful. Small details, yes, but by no means are they insignificant details. Pros know any small detail that slows down the flow of the sales process will always work against them. Remember: One of the measurements by which the customer is judging you is how important you are making her feel. Being properly prepared shows her this appointment is important to you and conveys respect.

It is important to remember 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 time to meet the family dog. Learn more about the children and their activities. Ask about the pictures of the grandchildren hanging on the wall. How old are they now? Do you get to see them often?

While this may seem to be a waste of time to some, I feel there can be no better use of the first few minutes in a customer’s home. Don’t forget the customer buys based on emotion first, then she justifies the purchase using 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.


Tom Jennings is vice president of professional development for the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA). Jennings, a retail sales training guru, has served in various capacities within the WFCA.

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