Right-selling tips to seal the deal (part IV)

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By Pami Bhullar

Pami Bhullar, director of retail development at Invista/Stainmaster
Pami Bhullar

In the first three installments of this series, I outlined the key building blocks of right-selling—building trust with the customer; understanding her needs, wants and values; and making a commitment and/or asking for the sale. In the fourth and final part of this series, I will discuss the importance of “follow up” and “follow through.”

Many believe the terms follow up and follow through are the same; they are not. Follow up is typically a phone call the day after the install to check how everything went and ask for referrals and reviews. Conversely, follow through could be a Christmas card, New Year’s card or an invitation for another sales event so you stay in touch with your customers for top-of-mind awareness and future business.

Another distinction: Follow up is to make your customers become your ambassadors; follow entailing three steps.

  1. Set the right expectation and be specific. Example: Customer needed some additional information you did not have but you promised to call.
  2. Ask for an agreement. State that what you are proposing is convenient for the customer. For instance, “Mrs. Jones, would that work for you?” Either you will get a yes answer or you will need to adjust to a suitable time that is good for both parties.
  3. Do what you say you will do. Call on time, deliver on time, etc. If necessary, add an event to your outlook calendar or your checklist as a reminder.

Note: Follow up can be done through emails, text messages and/or thank you cards. Each communication may create an opportunity to ask for reviews and/or referrals. The majority of customers are willing to give you a referral and/or a review if you did a great job creating a memorable and pleasant experience from start to finish.

Room for improvement 

Despite the best efforts of the sales reps, it doesn’t always end in a sale. Understanding why a customer did not buy from you could shed some light. Did she trust you? Perhaps you were too quick to show her products without understanding her needs. Maybe the customer felt the process was too complicated. Maybe she took the samples home and was ready to do the transaction, but you never followed through. These are just some examples of what can go wrong despite your best intentions.

Excellence in sales is achieved by practicing three simple steps: repeat, improve and perfect. These steps also allow you to customize them to adapt to your way of selling. So, in summary, here are the keys to right-selling:

  1. Build a rapport with the consumer: Create a technique to use the customer’s name in your sales presentation.
  2. Understanding the customer’s needs/wants: Devise a list of questions that will help you determine the right product for the job.
  3. Ask for a commitment. Without using a “yes” or “no” format, ask the customer to agree to the purchase. For example, “Mrs. Smith, what do you think about the carpet we have recommended for you today? If you are happy with your choice, we can go ahead and finalize the purchase and schedule an installation date for you.”
  4. Keep your word on all you have promised, and touch base with the customer to ensure all has been delivered as outlined.

Practice this approach every day, and you will achieve more consistent success in your sales efforts.


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.

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