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Put your business card into the hands of 1,000 prospects this year by using the simple rules of business card marketing.

Do you remember getting your first box of business cards when you were a new furniture salesperson? Do you remember how exciting it was to pull out the first few cards and see your name printed on them? Having that box of business cards was a declaration to the world that you were officially "open for business."

Unfortunately, very few furniture salespeople know how to use their business cards to increase sales and income. One thing is for sure: if you received 1,000 business cards some time ago and you still have 900 in a box somewhere, you are not using the power of your business cards to help you sell more furniture.

“Business Card Marketing” is a personal marketing strategy. It’s about putting thousands of your business cards into the hands of prospective furniture buyers. Why is it necessary for you to hand out thousands of business cards? Because even if you don’t own the store and the delivery van in the parking lot doesn’t have your name emblazoned across its side, as a furniture salesperson you are an entrepreneur, a small business within a business. This should be obvious if you work on commission. Your income is entirely dependent on how much furniture you sell. Even if you don’t work on commission, the owner of your store will still base your income on how much you sell.

It’s common knowledge that you can increase your income by turning more shoppers into customers (increasing your closing rate) and by selling more furniture to each customer who buys (increasing your average sale). However, another way to increase your sales is to have more prospective customers come into your store to talk with you personally. This is the purpose behind business card marketing.

By implementing a personal business card marketing strategy, you influence the number of shoppers that ask for you when they visit your store. With more shoppers to wait on, you have more opportunities to close sales.

First, you must set your business cards in motion. This will require a sustained personal effort to hand out as many business cards as possible.

7 Keys to Success

  • Don’t go anywhere without your business cards.
  • Prepare a 10 to 30 second “sound bite” to describe what you do.
  • Pass out at least three business cards a day.
  • Hand out a business card to everyone you meet.
  • Schedule weekly networking times to hand out business cards.
  • Mix business cards with pleasure and everyday activities.
  • Multiply your business card efforts.

Don’t Leave Home Without Your Cards

Whether you’re going to a social or business gathering, you should always carry business cards with you. Invariably, the one time you decide to not bother taking some business cards along is the time you’ll wish you had them the most.

In sales, we create relationships through networking. By reaching out to people around us we build a web of connections between those we know and those that other people know. You do this by telling everyone – old and new acquaintances – that you sell furniture and that you look forward to helping them with their home furnishings needs.

Giving out business cards ensures that the people you meet will remember that you sell furniture.

Prepare Your 10-30 Second “Sound Bite” 

When a person you meet wants to know about where you work, you have to remember that the person doesn’t want your full resume or a sales pitch.

You need to develop the ability to say which furniture store you work for, your own expertise or experience, and the unique advantage your store provides in thirty seconds or less. This “sound bite” provides you with a quick, no-pressure way of telling someone what you do, and it prepares them to accept your business card.

Your personal “sound bite” should inform the person of three things:

  • Who you work for.
  • Your personal expertise or experience.
  • The unique advantage of your store or service.
    For example:
    “I work for Jones Furniture. I help people find affordable furniture that fits their lifestyle.”
  • “I’m an interior designer for Regency Traditional Fine Furnishings. I help my clientele design the rooms they’ve always dreamed of having.”

Memorize your sound bite and practice it until you can give it without hesitation whenever you meet someone new.

Pass Out at Least 3 Business Cards a Day

Business card marketing is a numbers game. The more cards you pass out, the better chance you have of bringing in a prospective furniture customer. Your goal should be to hand out at least 1,000 business cards a year to people who haven’t been in your store before. That may sound like a big number, but it actually only takes giving out about three business cards a day.
When you let people know that you sell furniture, which store you work for, and how to contact you, your chances of selling more furniture increases and you might even turn some people into furniture lead generators.

For example, let’s say you’ve given your business card to someone, that person gets into a conversation with someone else, and the topic of home furnishings comes up. The person with your card can say, "Oh, I met someone the other day who works for Jones Furniture; in fact, I have their card." Success!

Hand Out to Everyone

When you meet someone for the first time, it is common for them to ask: “So, what do you do or a living?”

This is the right time to share your “sound bite” and your business card.
Say, “I work for Jones Furniture. I help people find affordable furniture that fits their lifestyle. Here is my card.”

After sharing your sound bite, stop speaking and let the person react to what you’ve said. This gives the person a few seconds to think about your answer.

Their reaction will allow you to determine how interested they are in what you said. If the person is interested, he’ll tell you. If he’s not, then your business card can be left to work its magic when the need eventually arises.

Your card is free, so why should anyone refuse? If you present your card smoothly and routinely, no one will refuse your offer. Most people will be anxious to learn more about you and what you do. They’ll also appreciate having your card as a way to help them remember your name.

Some furniture salespeople are reluctant to give their cards out because they are afraid of being pushy. You won’t come across as pushy if you remember that the initial meeting is not the time to make a sales presentation; it’s for building rapport by identifying mutual interests and creating an atmosphere wherein furniture conversations can take place later.
Business cards are small, light, and convenient, so make sure that every person you meet leaves carrying your business card in his or her pocket or purse.

Schedule Weekly Networking Time

Too many people in retail don’t get out of their store often enough to meet new people and to renew relationships with people they already know. Furniture salespeople, and even many store owners and managers, are guilty of too little networking. There are always excuses for not getting out of the store: paper work, phone calls, or just a lack of interest or energy.

Why not make breakfast or lunch a time to get out and meet new people? Pass out your business cards anywhere there are people. Make sure you put yourself in positions where you can regularly meet new people, because you never know who might be interested in the furniture you sell. A good goal is to attend at least one meeting or networking activity every week.

Furniture store owners and managers should attend Chamber of Commerce, Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary Club and other community meetings where contacts can be made and business cards handed out.

Furniture salespeople should attend events such as the Parade of Homes, home and garden expos, home improvement classes, garden clubs, bridal shows, real estate open houses and model homes as often as possible.

In informal and chance encounters, remember that you do not want to provoke a decision about purchasing furniture. You will increase the risk of ruining a potential sale if you try to talk to much.

The main purpose of your weekly networking is to introduce yourself and give out cards whenever you can. Sales success is based on numbers. The more people who get to know you, the more opportunities you will have to sell furniture.

Business Cards and Everyday Activities

Make sure you network at parties and other social functions as well as business events. It might feel unnatural at first, but with practice, it will become natural for you to network and hand out business cards. Start networking now, because every occasion that you meet a new person is an opportunity to give out a card (or two or three).

Neighborhood gatherings, church socials, wedding receptions, community picnics and parades, and school events are great times to meet new people. Finally, don’t overlook chances to meet new people during your everyday activities. Restaurants, grocery stores, health clubs, gas stations, shopping malls, are all great places to meet people and have a casual conversation while you wait in line or wait for service.

Business cards are cheap, and you never know where they might travel. Don’t be judgmental or try too hard to decide who will get a card and who will not. You have no way of knowing who will end up with your card and who will come shopping for furniture. Remember, you want access to the person you encounter as well as his or her network. It’s always good to let every new acquaintance know what you do.

Multiply Your Efforts

You can only hand out so many business cards by yourself. That’s why it’s important to enlist the help of others to promote your furniture sales. This multiplication factor will make your sales really begin to grow. Call it word-of-mouth-advertising or anything you like. It is important to have people actively assisting you, even though you may be busy doing something else.
It is a rewarding experience when someone says, "I was talking to a friend who suggested I see you about some new furniture."

This will be an easy sale to close because the customer has been recommended, has taken the initiative to come in, and has instant rapport with you because of the person you both know.
People who care about you and your success need business cards so they can easily refer prospective customers to you. Don’t be afraid to give cards to your friends and family. Ask them to give your cards to people they know and meet. Networking and business card marketing is especially important if you are new in your furniture store and don’t yet have a clientele. Your family and friends will gladly help if you provide them with cards to share.

Last but far from least, whenever you close a sale, encourage your satisfied customers to turn into business card distributors. Give them three or four cards to give to their friends.

Tell them: “I know you are going to want to show this beautiful furniture to your friends and family. Here are a few of my business cards. When they ask where you got your new furniture please give them one of my cards.”

Not only does this create willing assistance in passing out your cards to other prospective furniture buyers; it also helps your customers feel more confident about their decision to purchase from you. After all, if you want your customers to brag about the furniture you’ve sold them, you must surely be confident that they’ve purchased the right items.

Conclusion

Business card marketing is a sure fire strategy for increasing the number of customers who come into your store looking for your help. As more people hear your personal “sound bite”, more will seek out your assistance.

Now go out, “plant” a thousand business cards, and watch your furniture sales and personal income grow.

Note: The author would like to thank Reno Lovison, author of the book, Turn Your Business Cards into Business for permission to use some of the excellent material in his book.


Mark J. Lacy, M.S., is President of The Furniture Training Company. His company provides award-winning training over the internet by subscription to the retail furniture industry. Since 2001, FTC has trained many thousands of furniture salespeople for hundreds of home furnishings and mattress retailers worldwide, from small single-store independents to large retail furniture chains and department stores. RoomStore, Cort Furniture, Baer's Furniture, Linder's Furniture, Hudson's Furniture, Lack’s, Dufresne furniture, Gallery Furniture, Pilgrim Furniture, Highland Furniture, Chariho Furniture, Marlo Furniture, Ivan Smith Furniture, Vermont Furniture Gallery, Continental Furniture, Dearden's, Olinde's, Macy’s Inc., and RC Willey, are just a few of the retailers that have used the FTC training website. Moreover, nine out of ten salespeople who have used the training have increased their furniture sales.

Mark has more than twenty years of work experience in the field of training and instructional technology. He has been an invited speaker for dozens of conference presentations on training, instructional design and technology, and has spent many years training and consulting in the home furnishings industry. Mark has decades of experience in retail sales and business marketing. He has led the development of countless education and training technology products and courses, many receiving national and international awards for excellence. For years, Mark taught instructional design and technology courses at Utah State University. He has a bachelor’s degree in Communications from California State University Sacramento and a Master’s degree in Instructional Technology from Utah State University

Questions about this article or other retail sales or furniture training needs, visit www.furnituretrainingcompany.com, email him care of editor@furninfo.com or call Mark directly at 866.755.5996.

Furniture World is the oldest, continuously published trade publication in the United States. It is published for the benefit of furniture retail executives. Print circulation of 20,000 is directed primarily to furniture retailers in the US and Canada.  In 1970, the magazine established and endowed the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library (www.furniturelibrary.com) in High Point, NC, now a public foundation containing more than 5,000 books on furniture and design dating from 1620. For more information contact editor@furninfo.com.