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Next Level Training: 12 Key Maxims for Salespeople!

Furniture World Magazine


Twelve Key Maxims for Retail Salespeople!

Part 17— by Scott Morris

Share these 12 key maxims with your salespeople to let them know “HOW” they can help achieve your company’s “WHY.”

You hear a lot these days about how critically important it is for companies and salespeople to define their “WHY.” However, it is also vitally important for both to define their “HOW!” While it may only take a day or so to define your Why, defining your How is an ongoing process that needs to be re-evaluated and fine-tuned often. Why is that so? Your competition is constantly improving, as are industry best practices and know-how. However, the core nuggets of wisdom regarding sales team betterment are timeless. That’s why the following “12 Key Maxims for Salespeople” are essential to share with your sales teams!

#1 Always Keep Busy!

Happy people always seem to be busy. Why is that the case? When busy, the body releases endorphins that put people in a better mood and give them more energy! So, stay engaged in simple activities such as straightening the showroom or putting supplies where needed at key points on the sales floor. When it is your turn to greet the customer, you will be ready with the “right frame of mind.” Those who perform poorly in sales, you’ll notice, always seem to be sitting around waiting for their next turn to greet customers. However, that causes them to have such low energy levels that they just don’t have that “spark” or warmth to take their initial conversations to the right place. It pays to remember that there’s no such thing as a “good” but lethargic salesperson!

“Those who perform poorly in sales, you’ll notice, always seem to be sitting around waiting for their next turn to greet customers.”

#2 Downtime Is For Learning and Practice

Spending slow time improving furniture presentations helps salespeople in many ways! First, it keeps their minds focused on selling. Second, thinking about new and innovative ways to make the merchandise “speak” to customers surely improves sales! When is the right time to experiment with different demonstration techniques? It is certainly in advance of being in front of a customer. There is also a benefit to your store’s culture. When peers recognize that superior performance is based on constantly trying to improve, the enthusiasm automatically becomes contagious!

#3 Help Customers Make the Right Decision

When someone comes into your store, they often lack crucial buying insights and basic knowledge about furniture. Why is this so? Consumer Reports is excellent for comparing computers, major appliances, cars, and televisions. With a few keystrokes, consumers can search for items on the web to gain instant perspective. For furniture, however, there are just too many products and brands. You, the salesperson, are your customer’s only “trusted advisor” when making furniture purchases! They need you to be honest with them, to “step up,” and to have their best interests at heart. Always assess their current and future usage needs and advocate on their behalf!

#4 The Only “Justice” Is Another Up!

Have you ever written a large sale and then decided to take it easy for a while? A lot of salespeople routinely do that. They feel like they made their quota or goal for the day and deserve to take it easy! However, that’s the worst time to sit back and skip your next “up!” Why? You have a lot of momentum working in your favor! You are in a great mood, optimistic, and have a positive vibe that the next customer will instantly pick up on! That will help you bond automatically with your customer and increase your chances of getting that next sale!

But what if you just worked with a tough customer and felt you should get off the floor for a while? That could be a big mistake as well. The reason is simple. Back in the lunchroom, you are likely to replay the negative scenario in your mind. The best way to get over it is to take your next up. On average, working with your next customer will be much easier. Here’s a thought for you: If you let a difficult customer take you off the floor, it could cost you two sales!

#5 You Can Sell Everybody on “You!”

You cannot sell every up. There are many legitimate reasons why people don’t buy on their first store visit. Perhaps they are just shopping for ideas. It may be that the person you greeted is scouting for an item or items for a son or daughter. That doesn’t mean you can’t “sell them on YOU” as a prelude to doing business with YOU in the future. Be sure to treat every shopper with kindness. And share every bit of your considerable expertise with them, as if they were getting ready to write a check today!

“Offer a spiff to reward salespeople for each repeat customer sale. Then, when tracking total monthly sales per salesperson, break out sales from repeat customers.”

#6 Get a Little Better and Make a Lot More!

When you get a little bit better at selling, you will start to earn a lot more! Here’s what I mean. When you get a bit better at closing mattress sales, selling protection, converting customers to credit, adding on accessories, and getting be-backs, all those small wins will make a HUGE difference in your paycheck! The added sales alone will become a large factor. Bonuses may kick in, as may higher commission rates if your pay plan has a graduated payout scale. By improving your sales skills by just 20% you can easily make 30% more!

#7 Tough Customers React to Previous Experiences

Have you ever had a customer refuse to talk with you or strongly object when you greet them? Let’s say your initial greet is, “Hi! Welcome!” To which they respond, “If I need you, then I’ll call you!” Then they shove their phone in your face, do a 90-degree turn, and storm down the aisle in an annoyed manner.

Why do some shoppers behave in such an unfriendly way? Most of the time, it’s because they’ve had poor experiences with other salespeople who’ve been pushy, self-serving, and unprofessional. The situation might be entirely different when you attempt to re-approach them later. But if you sense that you are getting the cold shoulder again, ask, “Do you still need some time on your own?” I found that technique usually works very well!

#8 Strive to Make Everyone a “Repeat” Customer

There are only two types of customers: first-time and repeat buyers. Every top salesperson gets most of their volume from repeat customers! If asked, “How would you define a truly great salesperson?” My answer would be, “Someone who does such a great job helping their customers make a properly informed decision that a large part of their business comes from their satisfied repeat customers!”

To bring home this point in dramatic fashion, I suggest that managers offer a spiff to reward salespeople for each repeat customer sale. Then, when tracking total monthly sales per salesperson, break out sales from repeat customers. If you post those numbers, you will quickly see exactly what I mean, and more importantly, so will they!

#9 Be a Team Player, Help Others Become Better

When new salespeople complete orientation training, they acquire a great deal of knowledge. However, there is still much more to learn! There’s only so much that a person can initially handle and process.

After all, it can be quite overwhelming to learn about the business, its rules and regulations, how to handle a sale, credit plans, insurance plans, the computer system, the selling process, and all the things offered!

New salespeople need the help of managers and more experienced salespeople to show them how to present furniture in the best way and to learn the natural “step-ups” and “step-downs” in the mattress department. A bit of help can often make a huge difference in their performance and lives! Senior staff members should offer help whenever they can. Always ask permission. For example, say, “Is there something you’d like to know a little more about?”

“When you get a little bit better at selling, you will start to earn a lot more! By improving your sales skills by just 20% you can easily make 30% more!”

#10 Develop a Sales Culture of Sharing Knowledge

There is something extra special about a store where a collective effort is made to help everyone improve. Customers immediately sense and react positively to this kind of open and friendly atmosphere. Managers can help stimulate knowledge sharing and improve salespeople’s daily focus by asking questions such as, “Team, how many different good uses can you come up with for a nightstand?’’ Here’s another, “What’s the phrase that works best for you to get someone to test a mattress when they didn’t come in for one?” Ask them to write down their answers and share them with you at the end of the day, then present them at your next sales meeting.

#11 Help Your Management

Salespeople should view store management as part of the sales team! Quite often, store cultures have an “Us-vs-Them” mindset. Managers carry tremendous workloads. They handle problem customers and difficult employees, diffuse “touchy” delivery situations, try to prevent cancellations and deal with difficult service issues. They are under daily pressure to hit sales and operations goals and must quickly switch gears to close sales, greet customers, coach, and, of course, present informative and motivational sales meetings! Therefore, everything works better when salespeople support managers. Human nature is such that when you go out of your way to help someone, they will do the same for you. That’s called “winning as a team!”

#12 Be a Positive Influence on Everybody!

I still recall the warm greeting from a friendly salesperson when I arrived at a store many years ago for a job interview. He had a big smile and a genuinely warm demeanor. It made me feel like I wanted to come to work there, even before I had learned anything else about the store. Every time I passed by that salesperson at work, I recalled that feeling from when I first met him. They say, “The first impression always makes a lasting impression.” You never know how much the first impression you make can impact someone’s life!


About Scott Morris

Scott Morris worked for the four largest furniture retail chains in America as a store manager and sales trainer. He is the owner of HSM Publishing. His mission is to stop the high sales associate turnover rate within the furniture industry. He has written and published six books on various topics, in addition to the “Sales Questions” laminate, and designed and produced the advanced level sales training course titled “The Best Furniture Sales Training Ever!!!” He also produced 12 insightful customer “handouts” designed to bring back the “75 percent who leave without buying.” Questions about this article or any aspect of sales education can be directed to him at hsm7777@att.net or visit TheBestFurnitureSalesEver.com.