Knowing the positive
and negative qualities of these seven sales types will help you to be a
better coach or mentor.
There are as many different furniture “selling styles” on display in any
furniture store showroom as there are salespeople.
That is why, from a sales management perspective, it is useful for coaches
and mentors to become familiar with the basic types, each of which has
intrinsic value as well as weakness.
You may have people on your sales team who have a flair for decorating. They
delight in taking their customers on treasure hunts to locate that perfect
pair of lamps, pillows, or area rug. Decorator personalities emphasize
visual aesthetics and gravitate toward looks that really pop! They tend to
effectively cultivate relationships with nearly all of their clients and
excel at building tickets. However, there are downsides to this approach as
practiced on most retail floors. First, a time-consuming treasure hunting
approach can cost them the sale should a time-constrained shopper need to
leave before consummating the deal. Second, the main driver of furniture
store purchases is furniture! These need to be 100% locked in before
accessory items are considered. Failing to do this first can cause shoppers
to have second thoughts.
The Super Bonder
Some members of your team have the talent to create instant chemistry with
shoppers that keep conversations flowing. Once they read a client, they
intuitively steer conversations toward personal topics like kids, pets,
sports, etc. Personal relationships become the “X” factor driving their
sales. These individuals tend to have high close ratios. Though, in many
cases, their cancellation rate may also be the highest in your store. That’s
because they spend so little time addressing customer needs or justifying
The Pro Presenter
Great trial lawyers and superior salespeople share a common trait. They have
a special knack for turning boring facts into strong emotional appeals.
Emotion is a powerful motivator when it comes down to convincing shoppers
and closing sales. Since it often requires decades of practice to become a
pro presenter, this sales-type usually has lots of experience. They can be
great teachers and add lots of helpful ideas during store meetings. Their
downside? Although great at upselling, they often fail to focus on building
tickets by adding accessory items or helping customers create total looks
Someone who is a genuine closer spends much of their time concentrating on
the back end of the sale. Their laser-sharp focus centers on trial closing,
isolating the true objection and overcoming it to affect customers’
decision-making processes. When it becomes necessary to “TO” customers,
Closers are almost always the ideal people for the job. They can
single-handedly increase a store’s close ratio. However, some closers also
burn through a lot of customers, sacrificing the store’s public goodwill,
just to make a quick sale.
There is a big difference between the designer and decorator sales-types.
Decorators have accessories as their focus. Designers, however, are
interested in the total feel or personality of their clients’ rooms. A
decorator may pick out accent pieces to make a piece of furniture look
better. A designer wants to know if the furniture and accent pieces will
create the total room feel their customers are looking for. Designer types
consider the big picture and do the best job satisfying customers’ long-term
needs. They don’t just sell things. Designer types build trade for stores
and generate the highest average tickets. So, what downside could possibly
be associated with this sales type? Although great with fabrics and
aesthetics, they sometimes don’t spend adequate time explaining the quality
construction of items. The more the customer spends, the more comfortable
they want to feel about the true quality of items they are considering.
You may not come across this selling style very often, but it is
extraordinarily effective. It is said that Abe Lincoln always had a good
story to tell. Even when pressed by detractors, he would spin a disarming
tale to win them over. I read that some folks considered Lincoln’s approach
frustrating because it was almost impossible to argue with him.
Telling great stories is an art form. Cass, a salesperson I once
encountered, was probably as good a storyteller as old Abe. Once he started,
it was just minutes before his customers would begin to lean in, their eyes
got bigger, and ultimately, their jaws dropped! Once he got to that point in
his story, his customers developed “lead bottoms.” What I mean by that is
that they hardly ever left without buying.
So, just what kind of stories would he tell? Unfortunately, we don’t have
the time or the space to go into it right now, but if we ever get a chance
to talk sometime, be sure to ask me about those magical stories! What could
be the only downside with this sales type? All your other salespeople may
need a session or two with the company psychologist to address issues of low
self-esteem. Just kidding! However, when an individual like this dominates
the sales conversation with a narrative, some of the proper and necessary
customer questions may not get posed, resulting in the customer’s true needs
The Conversation Driver
Unlike storytellers, conversation drivers ask questions and control
conversations with their customers. Controlling the conversation leads to
controlling the sale. You no doubt have heard there is a good reason we are
born with just one mouth and two ears! Really great salespeople are always
good listeners. In fact, anyone at the very top of their chosen profession
has become an expert listener. People like to be listened to. That is true
when they buy furniture or visit a medical doctor. If a salesperson asks
appropriate questions then listens intently to the answers, it makes them
seem smarter, shows obvious concern and tremendous professionalism. Such is
the power and lasting impression of asking the right questions!
Most customers don’t shop for furniture that often and need guidance along
their journey. Many times, they haven’t even begun to think about many of
the essential considerations that should be driving their decision-making.
That’s when the conversation driver sales type is needed the most.
There are actually many different types of questions that should be asked.
These include more than just asking about a client’s merchandise
preferences. Questions should address room considerations, decorating
inclinations and a dozen or so specific to the type of room customers are
looking to furnish. The conversation driver sales type is extremely helpful
to shoppers who have very little experience, keeping them from making costly
mistakes. What might be this sales type’s shortcoming? Customers can become
alienated if they feel like too many questions are being pushed on them or
in a rapid-fire manner. Every question must flow naturally during a friendly
and engaging conversation.
Sales Meeting Suggestion
Present the information in this article to your sales team during a
scheduled sales meeting. Ask each sales associate to identify their own
personal sales type, or combined type. Then ask them to comment on how they
might be able to minimize the downsides of their present style or cultivate
additional styles’ skills to enhance sales performance. Open up the meeting
at the end to brainstorm as a group.
“When an individual like this dominates the sales conversation with a
some of the proper and necessary customer questions may not get posed.”