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Sales Mistakes Made In The Name Of Nice - Part 1

Furniture World Magazine


Do your "nice" salespeople send customers out to be sold by the "pushy" salespeople down the street?

So many people in this industry consider themselves professionals. Their titles are spelled "consultant," or "associate." They think, and rightly so, that they are professionals, but the fact is that they don’t act like it.

What is the meaning of this statement? Let’s look at some common sales mindsets to see why they hurt professional image and sales volume.

•"I don’t have to ask them to buy. They’ll buy when they’re ready. Besides, that’s too pushy."

•"They said they’d be-back. They liked me. I know they’ll be back!"

•"They’re just here to browse. They don’t need any help, and I certainly don’t want to be pushy."

•"I tell them I work by appointment, and that they should call before they come in."

•"I can’t ask people to recommend me. That’s just not me."•I tell them, I’m Cathy, let me know if you have any questions."

•"They’ll call me if they need anything."

Why do sales consultants and associates operate this way? They believe that they are pros. They know that they "know" their stuff. They believe that "Dorothy" needs them and really needs their expertise. But, they don’t want to appear pushy. They don’t want to come across as one of those salespeople. They want to help, to be a friend and to be "nice."

Remember that you are there to help them, and assist customers with their home… not be their best pal. You are a professional who is there to take care of business. Your objective is to develop a relationship. You can do this without being pushy by analyzing your customers needs and helping them to "own" what they came in for. So why do sales consultants sell themselves short, all in the name of "nice?"

THE FUD FACTOR: Fear Uncertainty & Doubt
It’s that four-letter F word, "fear," that sneaks up and attacks. Yes, Fear, his sister Uncertainty and their brother Doubt. This trio is the #1 People Repellent! Fear catapults us out of our comfort zone. Customers, can read this discomfort a mile away. We justify our discomfort by telling ourselves, "I don’t have to ASK them to buy. I don’t need to do that. I don’t want to!" "FUD" rears it’s ugly head, and takes over. In "How to be a People Magnet," Neil Lowndes points out that when the "FUD Factor" attacks we lose our confidence. We become what I call schmooze impaired. Think about the first time you asked for "the close," or for someone to refer you. You did live through it but, at that particular moment, you really had your doubts about your survival rate! Hey, that was then. This is now. You know that you’re good. You know that you’re a Pro. You are, after all, running your own company, "Me, Inc."

Don’t Throw Drowning Customers An Anchor
You’re the CEO, the CIO (Chief Information Officer), the CSO (Chief Service Officer) and you’re the CCO (Chief Communications Officer).

According to "Fast Company" magazine, the real new economy is back!

"The new economy is about the expansion of individual opportunity... we have come to understand that the new unit of analysis for creating value, making change, and producing results is the unit of one. Never before in the history of business has each person mattered more as a talented performer, as a leader in an organization, or as a consumer in the market.
"The only way to stay in business today is to be fully, constantly, and instantly alive -- alive to new ideas, alive to new practices, alive to new opportunities."

Michael Hammer emphasizes in his new book, "The Agenda," "that the real new economy is the customer economy. Customers are no longer supplicants for scarce goods. Roles have changed, and sellers have become applicants for scarce buyers... Companies that reengineer to face the customer, to serve the customer, and to make life easier for the customer will flourish. Those that don’t will perish."

THAT’S why CIO, CSO & CCO are all parts of your job description.

You are an essential part of the "new, new economy." Are you alive to new ideas, new practices, and changing to make way for new opportunities?

Everyone needs a good listening to. Look at everything from your customer’s perspective. Ask yourself, "What is my listener thinking and feeling right now?" Mr. Lowndes calls this, "In Your Shoes" communicating.
Listen with your ears and your eyes. Listen to their gestures and their fidgeting. Listen to their eye contact or lack thereof. Listen to everything else you can see and feel about this person. When they know that you care, really care about their needs and concerns, they’ll let you in. They’ll let you help them fulfill their needs and wants. It has nothing to do with being "nice." It’s about being their consultant and helping them solve their problems.

Years ago, I helped a woman to gain control of her selling situation so she could more effectively service her clients. She said, "Cathy, I just can’t do this. I don’t want to be pushy." I told her it’s not about being pushy. It is about relating to them, listening to them and helping them. Later that day a young man came in. He was her "UP." He informed her that he had just moved into a new house. He told her that every room was empty. He also informed her that he was color blind and that he really needed her help. The end result? She sent him home with three fabric samples to look at in his room! He was color blind! Did she help him? This poor man was drowning and asking for a lifeboat. She threw him an anchor! All in the name of not being pushy. All in the name of nice! She didn’t listen. She was concerned about staying in her nice comfort zone. She was trying so hard not to be pushy, that she forgot about her customer! She didn’t listen to his needs, and why he was there.

This "nice stuff" can kill you! It keeps you from fulfilling your main objective that is to help customers fulfill their needs for their home. To do this, you need to let customers know that you are a professional, not a furniture clerk. They need to know that you are different and that you care about them.

The discussion of “nice” will continue in the December/January issue of FURNITURE WORLD.


Cathy Finney is President of Ancell Affiliates \"T 'N T." She is a noted motivational speaker, sales trainer, and management consultant. Questions can be addressed to her care of FURNITURE WORLD at finney@furninfo.com.