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Galt's Strategic Retail Sales By Design Tip #3: What Every Home Furnishing Customer Wants (So You Sell More)

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Shopping for furniture can unfortunately too often be compared to shopping for a car (used or otherwise) when in person. And women drive both the furniture and car buying decisions, so when they aren’t having a great experience, it’s reflected in poor sales.

Too often today, brick and mortar furniture stores, like car dealerships, are used strictly for the necessity of trying out the goods and not for the actual purchase.

In many retail operations, the potential buyer (they aren’t a customer until they buy) enters to see or hear a knot of sales people chatting to one another. One will break loose, often reluctantly, to greet the potential buyer.

Or, as an unsuspecting potential buyer enters a showroom and starts browsing, an up system is announced over the PA system (“John you have a call on line 7” was the code I was taught) with whatever code is applicable indicating the next sales person needs to find and greet the potential buyer.

Remove the Pressure and Establish the Welcome
Needless to say, the potential buyer is aware they are being stalked and it doesn’t feel very good. What they really want is the removal of any pressure and to be invited to try out the furnishings just as they would at home (feet up on the coffee table if that’s their style) and a knowledgeable and friendly creative expert. (Notice, I didn’t say salesperson.)

(Why do you think Leesa, Caspar, and now On Purple, all mattress companies, are doing such a booming business online? They allow a trial period of up to a year in home with their mattresses. It’s uncomfortable for most consumers to truly relax and get a genuine feel for the furniture with a salesperson hovering over their every move, and without being invited to really “get comfortable.”)

While your potential buyers may want to explore the showroom on their own, they don’t want to have to hunt for help when they have a question. Include an iPad or larger computer screen loaded with product information, a variety of room settings for the pieces in a particular vignette, and options, and a button or device to summon their creative expert for help when they want it. Let them be in charge.

They’d welcome a bottle of water (branded) or to be shown a beverage bar where they can enjoy a cup of coffee and a sweet treat while a consultant finds out a bit about their style, what’s their priority today, and puts them into that “everything’s possible” state of mind, and then gives them a guided tour of the floor personalized for their taste.

Confidence in Your Consultant
Your potential buyer wants to feel confident in the knowledge and expertise of your team. Whether you’ve got sales people and designers or one or the other, your consultant needs to know not just your product, but design trends, colors, space planning, and lifestyle.

Confidence is an aphrodisiac for sales, and when your consultants are confident in their knowledge (not cocky, not arrogant, not pushy) it provides a valuable path to information gathering and education of your potential buyer. When educated, they invest more.

Validation of Their Ideas and Decisions
Your potential buyer wants to have their ideas validated, and be made aware of alternatives that they are educated into, never pushed. They want to know why that sectional might be a better idea than the sofa and loveseat they were thinking of.

When your consultants are trained to truly listen between the lines to not just what the potential buyer needs but what they want, sales opportunities will expand exponentially. Need is a budget decision, want brings out the wallet and greater investment. This also eliminates the need to push anyone and instead generates greater desire in your buyer.

Cared for From Their First Step Inside to Installation and Follow Up
Your potential buyer wants to feel cared for (like a VIP) from the moment they step in to the moment they become a customer and sign an order. They want to know that you care about them as a person, a family, not just a buyer. They want to know you’ll follow up and keep them up to date on the progress of their investment. And they are counting on a smooth delivery and installation. It’s a big deal to them.
Their home furnishings purchase is an investment at every level whether it’s Baker and Century or West Elm and Pier 1. It’s their money being invested in pieces for their home. These pieces may be expected to last a couple of years or ten or more. It’s an investment in their comfort and their style. They’ll be sharing their pieces and their experience with you with their friends, family, colleagues, and coworkers (not to mention the world at large through Yelp and social media.)

Turn Transactions into Long Term Investments and Loyal Buyers
Buying home furnishings isn’t a one and done transaction. Unless they are able to buy it off the floor and wedge it into their SUV to cart home immediately. (That’s very rare!) There is an order process, delivery to schedule, and the actual installation. Every step of the way they want to feel confident, validated, and cared for. And you have an opportunity at each step to inquire, educate, and generate more sales.
Sadly, potential buyers often have a better experience with online furniture merchants who rock these qualities than the brick and mortar sales and design teams today. If you’re wondering why your potential buyers are leaving without becoming customers, look at the experience (or lack thereof) that they’re having.

When you create a first class buying experience at every level of the market, you’ll be rewarded with customers, not just potential buyers. You’ll see sales increase and social proof grow your business.


More about the Author: Melissa Galt is a sales generating, referral building, relationship maker who doesn’t just show you and your design team what to do, but leads you through a remarkable experience that will forever change how you do business. You’ll be able to ditch the clichéd sales speak and been-there-done-that strategies that haven’t been working and step into genuine engagement that gets rave results.

Melissa is your resource for increasing sales by design. Schedule an in-depth discovery session today. The insights you’ll gain will provide immediate clarity, confidence, and opportunity.

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