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Loaded With Sales Charm

Furniture World Magazine


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What does Bill Clinton have that you don't? Can it be learned?

H
ave you ever thought about how "charm" can make even the most difficult person or situation more tolerable? For example, I hate going to the doctor. Even doctors hate going to the doctor. Sometimes you have to wait forever until your name is called. Then you have to sit in a room that could double for a holding cell until the doctor actually sees you in person. Then you get prodded, pinched, poked, and written up in a folder that you will never get to see, given a diagnosis and a cure, then rushed out to the paying station to cough up cash or insurance.

Recently I've had a cold that just wouldn't go away. Each day I thought I'd get better, and each day I got worse. I finally called my doctor to make an appointment, and (horrors) he was on vacation. I was referred to another doctor­an elderly gentleman who was taking his calls. I made an appointment. They said he could "squeeze me in" in an hour. I rushed over. I waited for a half an hour. But this doctor waved to me twice during the 30 minutes just to let me know he was doing his best to get to me. He had a smile on his face. He was like Marcus Welby, MD. When I did get to see him, I didn't go into a holding room first. I went straight to an examining room with the doctor right behind me. He asked about my symptoms, asked what I had been taking, checked my temperature, throat, ears, pulse, heart, lungs, and blood pressure. All the time he was making pleasant conversation and acted like he wasn't in a hurry. Then he said to me, "You're sick." I said, "Anything else?" He said, "You look awful." I said, "What should I do?" He said, "Don't take any more medicine, get some rest, and you'll be ok in a couple of days." I said, "Can't you give me anything?" He said, "Well, here's a bill, it's 60 bucks." He was really a charming person. He started laughing at his own joke. I liked this guy. I decided to fire my regular doctor and just go to him. He had enough personality for 10 doctors. And he made me feel good even when I had to wait. I wonder if they teach "charm" in medical school.

Ever checked your "charm" quotient? In sales you learn to prospect, qualify, present, and close. You learn to sell. No one teaches us charisma. The best salespeople are loaded with it. I got to meet President Clinton a few weeks ago at a fundraiser for Hillary. It was pure luck that I even got in front of his face. In three seconds and a twenty-word exchange, he made me feel like I had all of his attention and interest. He looked me right in the eye when we spoke, and shook hands like he was my best friend. This is charisma to the nth degree. Bill Clinton can charm the pants off.... Well, you get the picture.

The best salespeople have some degree of charm. Some just don't know they have it. I went to the mall the other day to buy a couple of shirts. There was an in-mall boat show going on. Looking at boats is fun. You can let your imagination run wild, and say things like "jeez, that's a lot of money" or "don't mind me, I'm just looking" to all the salespeople.

The department store that was to be my final destination was down one of the less-traveled corridors. Not a lot of foot traffic was going past the few boat displays in that section. As I approached the last marine display, I noticed a card table with a few chairs on the far side of the boat. Two salesmen were sitting down complaining audibly about their spot in the mall, the lack of customers, and how they hated to be there in the first place.

I climbed up into the boat that was on display and sat behind the wheel. I started playing with some of the knobs and buttons, when this young lady, not more than 19, came up from the other side. She looked at me and said, "Boy, do you good in this boat." I thought that was an interesting way to approach a prospect, and then she sat down opposite me. Her next words were "I bet a guy like you could pay cash, huh?"

She had a great attitude, and could charm anybody into a conversation. I said, "How long have you been selling boats?" She said, "I actually don't sell boats, I go to school. My boyfriend's father owns the dealership, and he asked me if I could help out for a couple of days." I said, "How are you doing so far?" She replied: "Well, I've sold two boats, but the two gentlemen I'm working with said it was 'beginner's luck'. They said you can't sell anything at these shows. They can't wait to leave. So, I'm just trying to make the most of it. It's amazing how you can sell just by being nice and asking people to buy!" Here's one lady who has a gift for sales, as well as a head start on getting ahead in the real world. She's a natural.

Maybe before you start tweaking your sales skills to sell furniture, you should check your personality. Ask your friends about your "charm" level. Do they consider you "nice," "charming," "personable," or "charismatic?" On a scale of one to ten, how "charming" are you? Can you say "yes" to any of these questions?

  • Do you smile during your sales presentation?
  • Do you treat your customer like you're their best friend?
  • Do you give your customer all your attention, like they're the only one in the room?
  • Do people consider you "a nice person?"
  • Do you get your customer to laugh with you, rather than at you?
  • Do you use inflection in you voice to show your "sincerity side" rather than a "sales side?"
    o Can you get your customer to say, "I'll take it" before you say, "Would you like to get it?"

If you're trying to get your sales skills up a notch or two, maybe just learning more closes isn't the answer. Maybe looking at the personality part could help you move more furniture out the door.


Bob Popyk is the publisher of Creative SellingĀ®, a monthly newsletter on sales and marketing strategies for high-ticket retailers. His sales meetings and seminars are presented nationwide to major companies and industries. Questions on any aspect of sales education can be sent to FURNITURE WORLD at popyk@furninfo.com.

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.