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Furniture World Magazine


The re-approach- Ready or not, here I come... Again!

Retail salespeople everywhere face the same sales challenges and opportunities. Still, it is amazing for me to observe how sometimes, one question is raised more often than all the others. During the past few months, the most asked question has been, "How do I get the Browsers to talk to me?" Retail salespeople go on to say that, "I keep going back, and they either get more rude with each attempt, or they act as if I am totally invisible! Help! What's the formula? What's the answer?"
Let's take a look at a new strategy for success. Let's turn those Browsers into Buyers!

Step #1, job #1, priority #1 , first and foremost, you must always know whose UP it is.
Don't discuss this once "Ethel" hits the door. You know the drill. You are all snuggled nice and cozy inside the FORT and in comes this wary consumer who has already been attacked, harassed, followed and stalked. She's either ready to go three rounds with "Rocky," or the "Bambi in the headlight" look has been permanently etched on her face! What words of encouragement does she hear from behind those walls?

"Psst, Nancy, I think she's your UP. "No, I had just had one. I think she's Ruth's. Where is Ruth?"
"She went to lunch. Go find Bill. Maybe he'll want to take her."

Sound familiar? Sound too familiar? This poor consumer is standing there and hearing all of this. Remember, she may be scared, or feisty, but she's not deaf! And we have the audacity to wonder why she's rude when we do finally approach her!

Always know when it is your turn. This UP is your new opportunity to shine. Get out of there. You are a professional. You are not like all the other clerks down the street, are you?

You only get one chance at this first impression. Make sure you're selling "you" right up front. This is your moment! Let's make the most of it!

Take a thirty second inventory of yourself. Are you together? Ladies, are both earrings on? Gentlemen, did you grab your jacket? Are you smiling? Are you glad to see them?

Remember what I always say to myself as I go forth to meet a new client. I call it the "Cathy Finney Chant." Here comes Cathy Finney. Here comes Cathy Finney. This is your lucky day, so start chanting Here comes "your name". Many consultants I work with say they prefer to use my name. They say just thinking of the chant, they can see me bouncing up there to greet "Ethel!" and that gets them smiling. Either way, let them see your pearly whites. Let them know you're glad, real glad, that they are there!

As we discussed in the June 1998 issue of FURNITURE WORLD (posted to the sales skill index of www.furninfo.com), approach them from the FRONT. Head on, looking them dead in the eye. Clerks chase. Professionals approach!

Welcome them to your showroom - not to your store. Set the tone for this to be a pleasant experience. Make them feel welcome. You did not physically go into the parking lot and drag them through the front door kicking and screaming. They came in on their own. They are there for a reason. Let's find out why!

So many of us have been programmed to tell them everything there is to know about our operation in 20 words or less right off the bat. We sound like robots, and somebody just pushed our buttons! Our presentations sound canned, phony, and totally insincere. We end up doing the job on "cruise control." Regurgitating the same diatribe to every single human in the same way, same tone, with our eyes all glazed over! Our engines have started to idle and we have just entered the world of a Stepford Clerk. We are taking no prisoners. They will hear what we have to say, but they're NOT listening. We, however, are making sure that we've done our part. We filled them in. We told them what we were supposed to. They are now informed. Now they know how we work. The problem is at this point, they don't care how we work. It is pretty obvious to them, to us, and anyone else observing this ritual that we are cemented into a rut. A robot ~ reciting rote! This is not a pleasant experience!

Let's analyze exactly what's happening during this "warm, spontaneous recitation!" First of all, they are not hearing a word we are saying. They tune us out. They just want to get out of our face! They want to be left alone. They really do want to "Browse." They want to see if we have anything that they would like to own.

Read each person as they are ~ A unique, and special individual. Adjust your personality to them. Not the other way around! Have fun with this! After all, it is their lucky day ~ they are meeting you! This makes your job much more interesting when you have to analyze their personality. Adapt your selling personality to their buying personality. People only buy from people whom they trust. People tend to trust people who are like themselves! The faster you can identify and empathize with the consumer... the faster they will become your client! This is what separates professionals from the wanna be's!

Please note that this does not mean you have to be phony or endure a lobotomy. Adapting to the consumer is part of your job description. There is nothing fake about it. You as a professional must be able to identify with this person in order to help them. This is how you do your job! It's the only way to do your job. This is how you become successful.

Have fun with this! "Play" is my new four-letter word! The last thing "Ethel" expects is to have a good time! remember it's a sofa! It's only a sofa!

You now have a reason to smile. Here is this person who has a particular need. Let's find out what it is. This is an opportunity to make them your client. Don't recite the same script over and over again. We humans are a rare species. We recognize a programmed performance. We classify it as phony, insincere, b-o-r-i-n-g and dull. If that's the best you can do ~ they're not buying!

Instead of telling them everything you know in thirty seconds or less. Set yourself up for the re-approach by holding something back. "I can see you're in a hurry to get started. Please make yourself at home. I'll come back in a few minutes and "visit" with you. We're different from other furniture stores. I'm anxious to tell you all about us!"

Use the word visit not check on. Who checks on you? Clerks, a waitress, your mother! Visit is more polished and sounds much more special. You are a class act! This accomplishes many ways for you to win. First, they know you're coming back They're expecting you. (Always tell them that you will be coming back. Don't surprise them by just showing up!)

Next, you've created a sense of curiosity. "Gee, I wonder how they're different." Tell them about the services that you offer, why you're here, and what you can do for them. That's what they want to know. What's in it for them!

Now you have a reason to return. When you tell them everything up front and then try to go back this is what you sound like:

Salesperson: "Did you have any questions for me?"
Customer: "No!"
Salesperson: "Can I point you in a certain direction?"
Customer: "No, go away!"
Salesperson: "Have you seen anything you can't live without?"
Customer: "Uh, Uh!"

"Did," "Do," "Can" are all LIZARDS WORDS. You do remember the Lizards, don't you (See the April 1998 issue of FURNITURE WORLD posted to www. furninfo.com) Aha! When you bring out the Lizards, you're done. The show's all over! The Lizards win! All you get are a bunch of "no's!" You're finished! It's over!

The next trap we fall into occurs when we spill our guts, and then throw our name away. "My name's Cathy, I'll come back and visit with you to see if you have any questions." Never give your name away until you can get their name. Your name, just like theirs is a gift. Don't throw it away! Use the re-approach to find out who they are.

"I'm sorry, I didn't introduce myself. I'm Cathy Finney, one of the consultants here. What is your name?"

Introduce yourself. Use your full name, title (whatever it says on your business card). If you don't have a title then pick one! Get their name and use it. You can't build rapport with a stranger! The more effort you make to remember their name, the more effort they'll make to remember yours!

You approach them, they're rude, you get ticked off and you head for the safety, comfort and camaraderie of the FORT as fast as your little feet will carry you!

I know that the phones, files, and paperwork are all residing in said fort. Everything you need to do your job is in there! I know that. All I'm saying is that while your UP is in the store, stay out of there!

Remember, people react to what you reflect. People like to work with people who are busy. So while they are in your store... get busy.

Go to "the wall." Play with fabrics. Sit down, read tags, make notes. You could be writing your shopping list... the words shampoo, dog food, shaving cream, or pantyhose. They don't know. They just see that you are a professional with a job to do.

Don't stand there with your hands behind your back trying to look inconspicuous! You look and feel like you're out there without a net. It's hard to bond with your customers when they suspect that you believe that they are going to steal something! You're getting more uncomfortable by the nanosecond ~ and it shows! I don't know about you but sweaty is not one of my better looks.

When I went to purchase a computer several years ago, I told the young man that I was computer illiterate," and therefore needed and wanted a model that was idiot-proof! I bared my soul to this person. I held nothing back. I needed his help, guidance and expertise. What I did not need nor want was an hour monologue delivered in a foreign tongue. All I heard were words like megabytes, CD-ROMs, fonts, hard drive, soft drive, and a bunch of other drives were also mentioned somewhere in there. He made me feel even more electronically challenged and more stupid than I did when I first entered. This massacre of me was conducted so that he could look great. He didn't understand the basic premise that it's difficult, very difficult to bond with another human when you make them feel stupid!

Is this what we do everyday as part of our re-approach? First we find that she is here for a sofa. Then, what's the next question we blurt out?

"What kind/style do you want?"

Does she know the style she wants? Probably not. Bingo! Computer-eze! Even if she thinks she knows, her definition of a tuxedo sofa and yours could be from here to Jupiter!

LABELS - A trap!
"Do you like traditional or would you prefer something a little more contemporary?" What does that mean? Does your customer know what you mean? What is her definition of contemporary?
First, "Do" is a "Lizard Word" and she doesn't know (see the article on lizard words in 4/98 FURNITURE WORLD, posted to www.furninfo.com in the Sales Skills Index), or worse yet, she thinks she does! When you use lizards, and labels (traditional, contemporary, etc.) you slip into the trap of using Computer-eze!

Most likely, the next words you will hear are, "I'll know it when I see it."

There they are, the words that strike horror in the heart of every sales consultant across the land! Yep, this round of Computer-eze belongs to you! You do not get to pass Go! Instead you utter under your breath, "Great, another lookey-loo!" The only thing you collect is yourself as you go fleeing right back to the fort!

Computer-eze sabotages your approach, re-approach, and any other hopes for rapport building that you might have with the consumer.

Remember, it's not about product. It's about people. It's about speaking your customer's language.
Now that you know what not to do, let's set you up to win! Ask the consumer for the answers that she does know!

"A sofa? Great. Where will you be using your new sofa?" (What room?) Guess what? She knows the answer.

"Tell me, (the 2 most important words in sales) who will be using the room?" She knows this one, too!

"How do you picture your new room? What type of feeling do you want to create?" You're getting her emotions involved and you've now taken her from "sofa" to "room!"

If she doesn't know what she wants to do. Ask her how her room looks now. Why is she changing the sofa. Either way you get her talking.

  • You have just won this round of "Ethel-eze!"
  • You're bonding and building rapport.
  • You're asking her questions she can answer.
  • You're getting the answers YOU really need to know so that you can assist HER.

Let these three words become your new mantra! Use them as you are talking to the consumer. These three little words are what I call instant bonding words. You and "Ethel" are now buds! Every human wants to help. People are wonderful when they feel comfortable and they do not feel threatened. Remember they don't work here. They don't know what they're supposed to know! That's why you need their help and they need yours!

Put these new tools in your tool box & work on polishing them everyday. These are the tools that will make you approachable on the re-approach.!

Hey, there's the door. You're ready!

Cathy Finney is President of Ancell Affiliates \"T 'N T." She is a noted motivational speaker, sales trainer, and management consultant. Her latest audio tape series on follow-up is called "The Marketing of "Me, Inc." -Taking Your Company Into the Next Millennium--10 audio tapes plus a comprehensive "how-to" manual that helps your people turn all the customers into "clients!" Questions can be addressed to her care of FURNITURE WORLD at finney@furninfo.com.