Furniture Industry Sales Management Articles
Furniture World Magazine
A first-level retail RSA is focused on product. A second-level RSA is concerned about usage. A third-level salesperson outperforms both by wide margins.
Furniture World Magazine
Here’s how a furniture rep achieved rock star status with some cash and an idea. It’s a lesson sales managers and owners can use to get sales results.
Published 2004 - 2024
One key perspective and a lot of missing know-how separate your best sales performers from mid and low-level performers. Here’s why.
Life-changing success skills advice that store owners and managers will want to pass on to every new hire.
The need to address room issues is vitally important for closing sales and building tickets in furniture stores.
Bob’s Discount Furniture’s CEO shares his thoughts about strategic planning, team building and plans for growing the
159 store chain “coast-to-coast and border-to-border.”
vanilla and a
two-flavor twist will
indecision when choosing furniture and mattresses.
Making an engaging product demonstration that builds value, enlightens
customers, and convinces them through comparison, helps get the job done.
A fundamental shift has occurred in the way forward-thinking home
furnishings retailers are approaching store design.
CXM is a tool that will help you to grow your furniture business and outperform competitors large and small.
Guide non-physical leads into a funnel of care that will deliver the highest level of service you are capable of providing.
We don’t know how this mess is going to turn out, but If you are prospering, keep focused. Do what you do well and prepare for everything!
Ways to keep your sales staff motivated and focused even during those slow and boring times, especially in retail bedding departments.
A post COVID-19 fairy tale from the pages of the Brothers Grim starring your very own sales team.
It's been said that retail sales-people are the weakest link in the buying chain for furniture and mattresses.
Many store owners claim that their sales teams are knowledgeable and
Selling is everything in retail. That’s why the sales manager's job is so important.
Florida-based retailer helps
their customers actualize their dreams for beautiful homes.
Whether your top bed is $4,000 or $40,000, here are sales strategies to help you present and sell your best.
How to make the job of sales the EASIEST high paying position in your company.
Interesting excerpts from Spring 1918 issues including how to care for furniture delivery horses!
Here's how to make a great closing argument and avoid the many pitfalls that can result in lost sales.
Sure, it’s not even Halloween, but here are some planning tips for a happy and successful 2018.
The seven traits of the most successful sales performance managers, plus tips on how to develop them.
Five steps to help your people develop better phone skills and get rid of phone system features that annoy customers.
Seven things Disney does to get people to happily open their wallets that are instructive for home furnishings retailers.
Mobile analytics can prevent common causes of shopper anger & disappointment.
Offering your customers a Wi-Fi connection is no longer considered a luxury, it’s a necessity in 2017.
Traditional layers of management are focusing more on task-accomplishment rather than people-management.
Success at retail still comes down to what happens between one salesperson and one customer.
Earning the right to sell more at higher prices is the way the best retailers generate sustained profits and cash flow.
Sleep Simple store design boosts sales for Vermont retailer.
Mattress Firm’s Abby Ludens outlines a program for hiring and advancing women in home furnishings organizations.
What to do if your competitor deceptively prices their products?
You pay your employees, but do you need to show them that you appreciate them as well? René Johnston-Gingrich cites current research that will help you to maintain a healthy organizational culture.
Enterprise thinking is your key to superlative leadership many retail home furnishings stores lack
This article is for those of you in traditional relationships who are running things in the retail furniture business.
Prospects may be the most overlooked people in your furniture business. Here’s what to do about it.
An ES explains what your company does, why it’s unique and interesting. It needs to be short enough to deliver to a prospect during a brief ride from the first to the fourth floor.
How to best select, design and deliver education programming that will have a significant and lasting impact.
Executing these activities properly and coordinating them improves sales and profitability.
Tips from retailers and marketing experts on how to position your company for success if you choose to promote domestically sourced furniture.
Part 1: Free yourself from a “churn and burn” attitude that ignores the true value of your customers.
Hint: It’s not furniture!
How one mattress retailer decided to stop selling lower priced mattresses that accounted for 20 percent of its sales, and why.
Nothing much will change for the majority of furniture retailers in 2015. But for those few who do what’s necessary to get to the next level, the sky’s the limit.
Tips on how to find, hire, evaluate and compensate what could be your most important assets.
There are quite a few four-letter words that might offend. Perhaps one of the most surprisingly offensive and counterproductive four-letter word is BUSY.
What policies should you set to respond intelligently to a customer’s (buyer’s) after-the-sale enquiries or complaints?
The secret to selling more, earning more and improving lives.
Four out-of-the-box ideas for retailers who do the same things year after year.
How to tell your staff that you plan to do things differently, and motivate them to do it your way!
There are eight main reasons why 90 percent of companies, large and small, fail at bringing new ideas to their businesses. Here’s what you can do to improve your odds of success.
The final outcome of the mattress sales process depends almost entirely on whether the RSA keeps control or gives up control to the customer. Here’s how to stay in control.
Moving from failing 80% of the time to only 70% of the time, your sales volume goes up by 50%. It’s a lot like Baseball in terms of hitting and coaching.
You will never maximize your customer opportunities, your store sales and your profitability without a sales staff that controls the sales interaction from start to finish.
Before salespeople can effectively address shopper’s needs and motivations, managers must work to establish a meaningful connection between your salespeople and your store’s stated objectives and mission.
Most home sector salespeople are amateurs. For them, selling furniture is like Las Vegas… simply a game of chance. Here’s how you can change all that in your organization.
A detailed explanation of the best sales metrics to follow in 2014. Plus, Hal McClamma explains the best ways to coach your sales team based on this information.
Readers’ questions answered by the “Teflon Don” of the furniture business. The Furniture Godfather dispenses advice about getting sales associates to show up on time ready to work, how to improve the retail sales process, sell more accessories and achieve a higher percentage of perfect deliveries.
Some salespeople close at 30%, and some close at 15%. In most stores there is no plan, no strategic selling system, and no coaching initiative in place to fix this. Joe Capillo suggests a 5-step method to help you coach for success.
There are cases where strongly worded communications with employees and others are required, but before you press “send”, I suggest the following five steps...
Most retailers capture dependent sales performance metrics such as sales volume, traffic, average sale, etc., but stand-alone, this data is not very useful. Here’s how to use precedent metrics to really get results.
Eleven thought-provoking leadership precepts that ensure success.
Training new-hires, as every small and large store owner knows, is a problem that never ends. This article provides step-by-step instructions on how to structure a program for new hires that will set them up for success and longevity on your sales floor.
Seven important meeting types that set the stage for retail success.
Are you a fan of the movie “Groundhog Day”? If so, you may remember the following lines which have implications for furniture retailers... "It's the same thing your whole life, wash your hands, sit up straight, don't chew with your mouth open,... Oh yea, don't drive on the railroad tracks!”
You may be an absentee manager if you aren’t connecting with and mentoring your employees in a meaningful way. Here are tips for applying participative management techniques.
A fascinating article on how to apply the concepts of romance and love to furniture sales. The article advocates for a profound shift in the attitude of retail salespeople away from a purely profit motive toward a more intense focus on service.
Observations on how percentage discounts and some sales goals
expressed as a percent may be harmful to your furniture business.
Do you devote precious showroom space and inventory dollars to merchandise that just doesn’t sell? Do you have low performing salespeople who are costing you lost sales every day? If so, here’s what you can do about it.
Simon Kaplan, CEO of 14-store Crest Furniture explains his philosophy of continuous improvement based on the teachings of such management and leadership luminaries as W. Edwards Deming, Major Dick Winters and Lao Tsu.
Multi-touchpoint analysis leads to a new era of branding.
This is the first in a series of articles you can use to build a Dream Team from the ground up. This time you will get an overview of the three skills your team has to master to excel at home furnishings sales.
"Who is your biggest competitor?" We answer this question and explain why seemingly small things in the “profession of persuasion” make a significant difference.
Part 11: Retailers share interesting stories of growth, hardship and their strategies for success.
Studies have shown that customers whose complaints are handled well are often more loyal to a company than those customers who have never had a problem at all.
Many salespeople just want to be nice. They don’t want their customers to feel that they fit the mold of pushy commissioned salespeople. In doing so, they may fail to meet the needs of their customers and cause them to buy from that pushy salesperson down the street.
Shy or uneasy about making follow-up calls? Don't like rejection? Here are sure-fire ways to follow-up successfully and consistently.
The best way to get your "be-back" customers to actually come back and buy from you is to set up specific appointments with them. If you think that this is an impossible dream, check out this article by Cathy Finney.
A list of common errors made by retail sales people. These include failures to: believe in and sell yourself; encourage customers to have a purchasing plan; use planned selling scripts; practice active listening; and handle 'just looking' customers properly.
Continued from the March issue of FURNITURE WORLD is Peter A. Marino's series on how to keep those successful salespeople upbeat and working for you instead of your competitors.
A manual for Retail Salespeople which looks at the principle of preventative selling through a series of role-play examples.
Many retailers allow salespeople sell the way they want. This sends the wrong message to customers and adversely impacts sales. Ted Shepherd explains how you can implement a store-wide sales strategy which sends the right message to customers without inhibiting creative selling.
A kind of herd mentality exists on the sales floors of furniture stores. If managers falter, then the herd will pick another “alpha’ animal to lead. Joe Capillo looks at specific ways that owners and sales mangers can keep control of their sales floors.
Studies have shown that customers whose complaints are handled well are often more loyal to a company than those customers who have never had a problem at all.
Have you ever interviewed a seemingly superior sales consultant only to find out when she shows up for work that there has been a terrible mistake? Cathy Finney provides step-by-step instructions on how to make sure that job candidates have the will, the drive and the understanding needed to become a productive part of your sales team.
at two recent encounters he had with companies that really messed up! He explains why he will never return to one store because of their uncaring attitude. The other, however, got him to change his mind.
Is your team all on the same page singing the same song, or is each department writing their own lyrics. Is the main goal of employees to cover the customer’s needs and expectations or their own butts? Cathy Finney looks at “imagineering” strategies for helping your sales, back office and delivery departments work together to serve your customers and your bottom line.
If your sales manager is tagging the floor, handling customer service calls, calculating discounts for customers to help salespeople close sales, handling display issues, reviewing sales orders, filling out or filing reports, or doing everything except managing and coaching performance, you need to seriously reconsider how you have defined the role.
How important are weekly store meetings? Who should conduct them? Which employees should be included? How can managers assume the three vital roles of organizer, instructor, and facilitator?
The sixth part in Sam Leder's series on hiring and keeping the best people continues with a look at ways to avoid hiring salespeople who are "almost right". These are the ones you hire because of an immediate need and who you hope will "fit-in" with time.
Cathy Finney looks at some of the challenges of being a retail manager including: how and when to get rid of poor performers; strategies for teaching people how to solve problems themselves; how often to hold sales meetings; and how to honor and encourage good performance.
There is intense competition from within and outside of the home furnishings industry, to attract and keep good employees. In this environment where employees can afford to be picky, you need to "sell" your company to potential hires. Sam Leder presents some easy rules for conducting interviews and making job offers in his continuing series.
Many retailers are working short-staffed. They say that everybody who's any good has a job, and nobody wants to work retail. But there's another reason why most stores don't have enough people, especially salespeople, to adequately service their shoppers and customers. The truth is that most retailers treat recruiting like a trip to the dentist. They don't want to go there.
A Customer Relationship Management System is a set of policies and procedures that guide interactions between store staff and customers. It includes an Ups management component, customer sales and service history component, word processing for consumer communications and reporting capability for productivity analysis.
Questions that will help you gauge how disconnected you are from your customers and their needs. So, how do you change things? How do you get closer to your customer's needs and get better at giving her what she wants?
Joe Capillo continues his series on sales management with a look at how to develop achievable sales goals.
While most salespeople have individual income goals, they lack any structured, organized way of achieving them. The sales manager is the person who must orchestrate and manage the process of goal setting and goal achievement.
Recruiting should be viewed as an everyday part of working for your company. If you wait until you have an opening before you start looking, you are drawing most of your applicants from the ranks of the unemployed... who many not the best people for your organization.
When all the "monkeys" are living with their proper owners, retail managers can actually help their staff to sell, deliver and service more furniture! Here's how.
Well my friends, it's time to get in the trenches with your troops! The action is on your selling floor, not in your office on your computer screen! Most managers are so busy handling their employees' "monkeys" they can't spend time doing those things that could really make a difference to their bottom line. Here's how you can find every "monkey" a good home.
Retail sales people may have bad days, but they should never be allowed to communicate their malaise to rest of your organization, or to your customers. If management has the skills to deal with an employee's bad day, they can also prevent this mood from negatively impacting store
operations and store sales.
Many retail managers who are having difficulty implementing their customer driven UP system or are unable to hold their salespeople accountable for the closing rate in their stores can solve both of these problems by changing the way customers enter their stores.
Many owners allow themselves to become disconnected from key sales performance indicators that can forecast sales declines. Ted Shepherd gives step by step instructions for avoiding this situation.
Many mid to high volume store owners are determined to hold on to their sales management duties. Their reasons are varied, but the result is always the same... sub optimal sales performance. Ted Shepherd takes a close look at this pervasive retail problem. Included is a complete list of sales management duties which you will want to use and keep.
Understaffing at retail furniture stores is an alarming recent trend. If we want our sales people to increase the number and amount of furniture purchases, they need to be able to spend more time with customers. If, however, we do not maintain adequate staffing levels, these new selling skills are always the first thing to go.
Many owners and sales managers are so busy handling other aspects of their jobs, that client development isn't a priority. Ted Shepherd explains the most troublesome roadblocks that prevent salespeople from developing clients and illustrates how to overcome them.
To be highly effective at the goal development process and at their jobs in general, sales managers' actions must communicate and illustrate that their only objective is to help each sales person reach his or her own personal goals.
Salesperson feedback is a critical factor in determining both the success of your sales people and the effectiveness of your sales manager. If you have been reading this series of articles on sales management for the last 10 months, you will recognize this as the next logical step in sales management.
The one-on-one meeting between sales manager and salesperson is an indispensable component of the sales management process. Last month's article looked at the one-on-one meeting as a venue to provide performance feedback to salespeople. This month we will delve deeper into the these meetings to give you some additional insight into what should happen behind closed doors.
Price negotiation is a margin eroding practice that is simply not a necessary part of the sales process. There are a number of reasons why stores allow the practice to persist, however, the costs far outweigh the benefits. This article will show you examples of why negotiating is not in your interest as well as present a more attractive alternative solution.
If you have a customer-driven store, or are moving in that direction... even if you are high-end and low volume, having a well designed and implemented UPs system can make or break you.
Do your salespeople own their customers or do customers own your salespeople? This is one of the most controversial issues in retail sales today. Stores that allow salespeople to 'own' customers (that they have served or seen on previous store visits), take away important customer rights and help to encourage employee back-biting and in-fighting.
If your sales training programs do not match the reality of day-to-day sales in your store, it may be worse than no training at all. Here are some things you can start or stop doing to improve your training efforts.
Recruiting should not be an event driven by circumstances outside of an owners control, like a sudden departure or the need for additional staff, but rather an on-going part of daily sales management and customer concern. Unfortunately, few store owners understand the significance of this sales management activity.
Many retailers are overstaffed on weekdays and understaffed on weekends... their best salespeople resist helping to train new sales staff. and customers are getting uneven levels of customer service. Ted Shepherd looks at these problems and presents formulas which can help you adequately service your customers' needs, address your sales staffs' earnings requirements and meet your sales goals.
The vast majority of retailers use sales tracking methods which instead of motivating, act as a subtle form of punishment. This first article in a series by Ted Shepherd looks at ways store management can collect data, calculate performance indicators, interpret data, give feedback and get results.
Most salespeople forget about customers right after they leave the store. The solution to this loss of sales are easy to use, interactive systems that remind, coach and train.
Noted executive trainer Laura Laaman shows how you can give negative feedback to your employees and achieve positive results.
The goal of a progressive company must be to exceed it's customer's expectations! This means pleasantly surprising your customers- even dazzling them! But before you can do this you have to know what your customers want.
Even if you don't have a high tech computer software system to track customers who buy and also those who leave your store without buying today, you can still have your salespeople effectively capture names and follow-up to get them back in to close the sale.
Continued from the June issue of FURNITURE WORLD, is Peter A. Marino's final article in his series on Keeping Good Salespeople. This month Dr. Marino looks at incentive plans and why Spiffs and incentives often undermine the process they are designed to enhance.
Continued from the May issue of FURNITURE WORLD, is Peter A. Marino's series on Keeping Good Salespeople.
Continued from the April issue of FURNITURE WORLD, is Peter A. Marino's series on how to keep those successful salespeople upbeat and working for you instead of your competitors.
This final article in a series offers more advice on making continuous sales performance improvement a reality for your store by using metrics.
Virtually all stores are understaffed to some degree and this article will explain how you can determine optimal staffing levels to make sure you don’t lose sales and negatively impact your profitability.
First find the right people, set performance standards, compensation methods, goal management and accountability. Then teach them how you do business.
Here is a way to maximize sales and gross margin without substantially increasing expenses.
Getting started as a new salesperson in our business is a slow process. Often stores send newly hired associates out on the floor with very little preparation. Joe Capillo provides FW readers with a detailed orientation and training plan that cuts attrition rates and boosts early productivity.
A variable commission system can increase store margins and increase your sales associates’ income. This article explains how to design a system that will boost profits and be accepted by your sales associates.
Adam hoped to earn as much as $50,000, but store traffic and staffing levels would provide him with about 150 customers per month. At the store’s average close ratio of 21%, and average sale of $1,100 he'd likely earn $20,790 - less than he earned at his old job.
Pre-employment testing is being used by more retailers these days. There are hundreds of tests on the market and each one addresses a different combination of skills and traits. The right test depends on the position for which you are hiring, the skills you consider most important, and the characteristics that are relevant to the job and your work culture.
Obtaining optimum performance from workers is one of the most urgent issues facing retail furniture stores. This series of articles gives an overview of a technique that allows retail managers to measure and then direct job performance enhancement.
Let’s look at salespeople this time. Or, rather, let’s look at what we expect of our salespeople, how we hire them, train them to do what we expect of them, and how much we pay them to do it.
Sales people need to manage themselves. They should develop and then implement productive sales systems to achieve maximum results.
How to avoid the pitfalls of abuse of rank and its results; poor customer service and reduced productivity.
Once you’ve found the factors
affecting employee productivity in your organization that need improvement, you are ready to make performance improvement a reality.
The things we teach our new salespeople often have nothing to do with what it takes to be successful. Joe Capillo looks at the most basic equation that includes the variables of UPs, average sale and close ratio.
Salespeople have a hard time changing their thinking, let alone their behavior. This has caused more underperformance in retail furniture stores than any other factor except understaffing. So what’s a manager to do?
If you are like most furniture retailers, Be-Back customers are closed at a 60% rate, while first-time customers close at far below 20%. Joe Capillo looks at ways to concentrate your efforts on getting Be-Backs back!
If your salespeople just try to do their best everyday, but feel that they don’t have control over their schedule or their UP’S, then you need to read this article. Cathy Finney presents ways to stop wasting time and instead, plan each day for sales success.
Survey of how well retail sales associates greet and engage customers sheds light on the need for improvement. Compare your performance with other furniture retailers and the retail sector in general.
Dr. Peter Marino looks at research that shows a huge gap between what retail owners and managers think is most important to employees, and what employees say is most important to them.
Developing a client base, and keeping it active and up-to-date is the one, key activity that can help our salespeople to earn higher incomes. That’s why it is imperative for retail managers and salespeople to take responsibility for pursuing a one-to-one marketing strategy.
Track your advertising cost per opportunity to make more effective advertising decisions and leverage better media buys.
Consumer research suggests that furniture retailers need to have a strategy to stay connected to customers throughout each of the five stages of the home furnishings purchasing process. Most stores fall down right at the beginning “planning” stage because that’s where consumers need more help than most furniture stores are set up to provide.
How many people call your store? How many come in the store but don’t buy. How many visitors do you get on your website? Here are surefire ways to collect information on every potential customer that calls, visits your website or walks into your store.
Is Management by Walking Around still relevant for retail furniture stores in a cyber-based culture?
Joe Capillo explains how the most effective and productive salespeople can return 30% or more of monthly Ups as be-backs. Why is it important to have a system to encourage this? Because these customers are 40% more likely to buy.
A formal customer engagement strategy helps salespeople produce sales from those customers who should buy from you, but don’t.
Even with a great strategy and professional players, without a coaching staff who observe, adjust, consult with individual players, and perform ongoing training, and who measure everything, the results will not be good.
Although follow-up is the way to get be-back customers, when improperly executed, follow-up calls can be counterproductive. For mega-retailers, bad follow-up can work just enough times to keep them doing it, but for everyone else, it just doesn’t make sense.
Here are some suggestions for staying alive, and maybe even doing better, in these tough times.
Sometimes furniture store owners say and do things that defy reason. Three examples.... more to come.
In times like these, retailers need to hone cash management skills, buy smarter and sell better.
There are two broad “types” of shoppers; transactional and relational. Most are not all one way or the other, but you’ll see a mix of these two shopping motivations in your customers that can help you to work with them appropriately.
New media is uncharted territory for many furniture retailers, but with a bit of knowledge you can be one of the first in our industry to do it right.
When you do it right, the effort to embrace continuous improvement is worth it. Your company will be transformed from one where mediocrity is the norm, to one where high performance is valued and craved by everyone.
A commitment to change is necessary for home furnishings retailers that hope to relate to consumers in the post recession period.
As a leader of the organization, regardless of the title you choose, you have a responsibility to decide on a plan and chart a course to achieve your business dreams. David Lively presents a fictional story with which many FURNITURE WORLD readers will identify.
This article is excerpted from Michael Green’s new book, “Retail LIfe”, published by FURNITURE WORLD Magazine. Michael Greene also known in the industry as “Grandpa Mike-e-e” is the iconic 88 year old furniture retailer, author, composer, lyricist & industry newspaper columnist.
The best retailers teach their managers to work with subordinates in ways that help employees to feel good about their jobs. Skills that allow managers to accomplish this important objective can be divided into two categories. The first category is designed to maintain and enhance performance. The second is designed to encourage employees to change unacceptable performance.
If you can create a goal achievement culture in your sales department, you can structure information gathering, strategic sales process development, salesperson training, management training, and performance coaching in a seamless way to achieve your most aggressive revenue goals.
Style and color expert Stephen Bernasconi looks at how furniture styles and colors are determined by the social and economic conditions under which we live.
Some of the best home furnishings retailers share their stories of survival, growth and service with FURNITURE WORLD readers. Due to overwhelming response from our retail readers, this will be the first installment of a multi-part series.
Most furniture retailers focus on selling features and what we call “benefits”, and leave the customers to choose the things she likes best or that she believes best fit her needs. This has little to do with how most women want to shop for furniture and accounts for the 20-30% close rates in our stores.
People have changed, consumption has changed, technology has changed, but - most importantly - what is cool has changed. So, have you changed? Tomorrow’s leading companies are changing hiring criteria and measurements of performance.
Research shows that many customers are really just looking for ideas towards the beginning of the shopping process. Trying to close them before they are ready can, therefore, contribute to overall low closing rates. Instead, work to get them back for a second visit.
This article is about selling more inventory and improving inventory buying. David McMahon presents a coordinated approach to age your inventory, mark it down and provide sales compensation incentives to improve profitability.
Trial closing questions ask for an opinion. Closing questions ask for a decision.The benefit of trial closing is that it helps you to get to a favorable decision at the end, by encouraging lots of small yeses along the way. Plus, you can check on the customer’s level of approval of the things you’re showing.
Store traffic around the country is down, and for many salespeople, earnings have dropped as well. This has resulted in a palpable sense of low or negative energy on many furniture sales floors that can be felt by customers. Here are six tips that can help you to turn this situation around.
If you title your sales manager a “Store Manager” you’re making a mistake. The store doesn’t need a manager. The salespeople need a leader. They need a coach. They need a teacher, a guide, a caring mentor, a person who knows stuff and can help them. Look at this real-life example to understand why.
Why is everything you ever thought about commissions, and the things that motivate salespeople to perform, probably wrong? Poor performing salespeople don’t need disciplinary actions or warnings, they need help, and they need coaching. To coach you have to have a game plan, a strategy, a plan, just like sports teams have.
FURNITURE WORLD’s retail readers share their stories of survival, growth and service. This series that commemorates Furniture World’s 140 year of publishing, continues with interesting stories from retailers Longs Bedding & Interiors, Verbargs Furniture and Design and Home Furniture.
Ever notice that furniture retailers seem to all be selling the same stuff? Here are five ways to make this reality less important to your bottom line.
The one more customer out of ten you need to improve your sales revenue by 50%, is NOT among the next new first-visit shoppers you bring in.
Making perseverance and constant improvement our daily motto, achieving one more sale out of 20 can improve a bottom line as much as 44%. Few investments in your time, interest and energy will provide you a greater return.