How to elevate good salespeople to great

Home Columns Al's Column How to elevate good salespeople to great

salespeopleWhether you’re selling high-end appliances, sports cars or hardwood flooring, there are some universal characteristics that separate the “good” salespeople from the “great” ones. (I won’t even discuss a bad or ordinary salesperson—an order taker who doesn’t understand the customer and doesn’t really care.)

Generally speaking, the best salespeople know it’s better to understand than to be understood. When it comes to flooring specifically, a good salesperson will always start off by asking the customer, “Tell me about your project. What are you working on?” If you are really good you might ask how long they plan on living in the home. Why are they buying new flooring at this time? Do they have kids, pets? What’s her time frame for getting this project done?

In short, a good salesperson listens. He or she seeks to better understand the customer’s needs and desires and will show products that meet her expectations.

By comparison, a great flooring salesperson will do everything a good salesperson does but might take it a step further. For instance, she might make the extra effort to learn about the design of the customer’s home. The salesperson might even give the customer some decorating tips! At the end of the day, she’ll get the customer excited about the new project.

The best salespeople try to get at the heart of the customer’s wants and needs prior to taking her to a specific product or brand. For example, a great floor covering salesperson will not lead the conversation by saying, “This is a stone core luxury vinyl product that’s scratch resistant and 100% waterproof.” Unfortunately, many salespeople have been conditioned to sell this way because it ties into how suppliers market their products. By contrast, a great salesperson will ask questions that give him or her an indication of the current or desired style of the customer’s home so they can make the right recommendation as to color, pattern, design, etc. In illustration: “What do your cabinets look like and do you plan on keeping them that way or are you changing them as well? What about your furniture? What do you think will look good with your décor? Let’s select some samples and I’ll come out, measure your home and give you an estimate.”

Once you’ve obtained a better idea of the customer’s style and design tastes, you can now determine her needs from a functional standpoint. If she has pets or an active household, she will likely require a floor with strong scratch-resistant properties. Similarly, if the flooring is to be installed in an area prone to spills or accidents, then she will require a product that stands up to water incursion. However, be careful not to inundate the customer with buzzwords touting the product’s latest features. Rather, focus on the benefits that a particular product will provide as it relates to her specific situation or need.

Strive for extraordinary

There aren’t many people who would fit in the category of an “extraordinary” salesperson, but continually striving for excellence certainly goes a long way reaching that pinnacle. In a nutshell, an extraordinary flooring salesperson does everything a great flooring salesperson does with one major exception: The extraordinary salesperson focuses on the purchasing experience by getting the customer truly excited about her new floor. The extraordinary salesperson understands how big a deal this is for the customer and conducts himself or herself accordingly.

The goal of any great salesperson should be getting the customer to fall in love with her new floor.


Jerry Levinson is the former owner of Carpets of Arizona. He now focuses full time on training and education. He runs Jerry’s Flooring Business Master Class and is the author of “Profit Now.”

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June 6/13, 2022

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