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The Sales Treasure Within Two-Person Communication

Furniture World Magazine


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The Sales Treasure Within Two-Person Communication

Selling is communicating. We understand the philosophical question of a tree falling in a solitary forest by realizing that without receptive ears there's no sound. Similarly, in furniture sales, if there's no one receiving your message, there's no message... and of course, there's no sale.

Communication is all about creating meaning between two or more people using words or other impulses. There is a source, a message and a receiver. The process works back and forth in an endless cycle. Sometimes you, the salesperson, are the source sending your message to your client who is the receiver. Sometimes it is your client sending you the message. The information you send back and forth in this valuable exchange is your treasure if you know how to listen. It is in this expression that you will be able to direct your client to the choice that exactly fits his or her lifestyle.

Communication Characteristic One - Know Who You're Talking To
Selling home furnishings is one of the most intimate forms of sales. Many times it involves two people—you and your customer—or you and a family who communicate as a unit.

Physically being close to your client gives you the advantage of using your own abilities to assess people. People are different. They have differing lifestyles. It is your responsibility as a sales communicator to diagnose them.

One personality theory divides all of us into three basic categories—moving toward people, moving against people, moving away from people. Though none of us falls squarely in one particular categories, we each have basic attitudes toward others, ourselves and a particular philosophy of life. Realizing which of these types you're talking to helps you to communicate person to person.

Communication Characteristic Two - Both Parties Send and Receive Messages
Think of communication as a game such as tennis. Tennis works back and forth across a net. One player serves the ball. The other player hits the ball back, (hopefully) so the game continues. Then the first player lobs back.

In a game with skilled players, you can move swiftly and satisfyingly tto the end of the game. Similarly, if you are talking with someone with whom you understand, you can capture a sale quickly.

But if you don't have a seasoned tennis partner, and the ball dribbles and dies and never goes anywhere, it is up to you to keep the game moving forward with a series of experienced shots.

Your sales technique is like this. Your questions have to be tailor made to each individual client. As you work with different clients, your questions and responses must change as well.

You will create trust with your questions if you listen carefully to what a person is saying and signal that you are in harmony with this thought.

Communication Characteristic Three - The messages Are Verbal And Non-Verbal .
Use your perceptions. They are tools which give you the advantage of being able to empower your responses to different types of attitudes and personalities. Pay attention details such as body movements. Do their eyes dart around? Do they like to move? They are likely to be aggressive, hyper types? You have to be fast with your responses, be there for these clients because they become very impatient.

Books on body language or non verbal communication will help you understand the physical clues others signal with. Things like arms locked across the chest tell you something. Refusal to make eye communication tells you something else too.

Physically being close is an advantage particularly in home furniture sales—one of the most personal of choices. Because it is, you have to depend a lot on nonverbal clues and respond appropriately. You are helping someone create their home. You can speak softly when you have to, can flexibly modulate your voice as you read a person's facial expressions, eye movements, hand movements and dress.

ome tips on finding the treasure in sales communications

  • Keep a notebook with a special section on your observations about people's responses
  • See your client as a human being first, not as a test of your ability to get a sale. You are there to help a friend furnish a living space.
  • Ask questions to discover more about them as people so you can respond helpfully.
  • Value what you are doing. Helping someone make decisions about their home puts you in the position of a trusted friend. Don't betray it by summing up a customer with arrogance, impatience or disdain. You are an important part of helping this person make some long-lasting decisions.

The treasure within is within the walls of the residence you are helping to furnish. It is also within your customer and within you. Listen to what your customer is saying, and listen to what you are feeling.


Bill Blake is President of WRB Associates a space planning and design firm that creates and maintains retail environments that increase sales per sq. ft. and boosts merchandise turns. Questions can be sent to Bill care of FURNITURE WORLD at wrblake@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.