March 2/9, 2020: Volume 35, Issue 18
By Pami Bhullar
(First of four parts)
For almost 40 years, I have been selling, observing and understanding what it takes to be a great sale professional—and I have met many in my life. In most cases, I have found that selling—at its core—has little to do with the product/service someone is selling but rather the overall “retail experience” that person is delivering to the customer.
Here’s a great example: I recently met a Lyft driver who I also consider an amazing sales pro. You might ask, “What was she selling?” It was just a ride, after all. I take rides all the time. But what made this experience special was the person, the process, the care and the attention to details. She explained how the ride was going to be, asked about my comfort and made it a great experience overall. As a result, I gave her a bigger tip than I normally give.
As humans, we sell all the time. We sell an idea, a thought, a product or a service that creates value for the recipient. The more value you create for the recipient, the more he/she is willing to pay. Furthermore, if it becomes an experience, he/she is willing to recommend you to others (i.e., sell for you).
In my interactions with sales professionals, I make it a point to ask them, “What do you do to make a sale?” Invariably the answer is, “I do whatever it takes.” When I ask for the definition of “whatever,” I rarely get one. When you do “whatever” you get whatever results, and whatever cannot be improved.
Remember, flooring is a major purchase—and a complicated one at that. On an average, we buy flooring maybe two, three times in our lifetime, tops.
To an untrained person, flooring can be confusing. Most of today’s consumers research flooring before they come to your store. They do not want you to upgrade, downgrade, upsell or down sell. They want you to “right sell.” And by that I mean being a partner to your customer and doing it together with a focus on her or his needs. I strongly encourage retail sales professionals to sell to their customers, not themselves.
To assist RSAs in the area, I have identified the four fundamental building blocks of right selling:
- Building trust and relationships
- Understanding needs, wants and values
- Making a commitment and asking for a commitment (Note: Fail at this step and you won’t get an opportunity to move on to No. 4).
- Following through and following up
Right selling is more about “why you did not make the sale” rather than how to make a sale. If you know the reasons why you did not make the sale and you are willing to do something about it, you would have made the last sale, and you will probably make the next one, too.
The future success of retail will be directly proportionate to the kind of experience a consumer receives. I believe consumer experience is going to be more important than the price and even the brand for most people who are stressed out and have very little time to accomplish so many tasks each day.
In the next installment, I will delve deeper into retail consumer psychology by talking about the second principle of right selling, which is understanding how the customer’s needs wants and values factor into the decision-making process.
Pami Bhullar is director of retail development at Invista/Stainmaster. A fixture at retail buying group conferences and major mill events, he is skilled in marketing, management, negotiation, budgeting and business planning. He is a highly sought-after keynote speaker on issues related to retail strategies and training.