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Next Level Sales Training: The Half You've Been Missing!

Furniture World Magazine

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The Half You’ve Been Missing!

The need to address room issues is vitally important for closing sales and building tickets in furniture stores.

Most furniture stores miss out on the advantages of providing the “second half” of critical training that all salespeople need. Rather than give you a drawn out explanation of why this is so, let me ask you a simple question. “What’s the chief difference in the decision-making process when buying a new car compared to buying furniture?”

There are lots of similarities between furniture and car purchases. For both, shoppers need to make decisions about style, quality, color, comfort features, price, terms and durability. What they don’t need to do when considering the purchase of a car is to coordinate it with the style and color of their garage. The total and coordinated look of any room, however, is a major consideration for most home furnishings buyers.

For many retailers, lack of training to address this difference is why many shoppers who find a furniture item they like well enough to buy tell their salesperson, “You’ve given me a lot to think about! Have you got a card?” Quite often, asking for a card isn’t just a polite way to leave the store without buying; it’s a buying signal for salespeople to address the “other half” of a shopper’s decision-making process.

That’s because your shoppers may be thinking:

  • “Shouldn’t I get the room painted first to make sure my current wall colors work with this sofa? If so, what new color would be best?
  • “Since we’re seriously considering changing the look in the room, should we just shampoo the carpet, or is it the perfect time to change it out too, with a new color to match everything else?”
  • “Will my current tables work, and gosh, what about the lamps on them?”
  • “This sofa is a bit wider/longer than my previous one. Will it stick out too far? Maybe I should have measured or used a placement app to make sure how it will look with the scale of my room.”
“Most furniture stores do a great job of teaching new hires about the features, advantages, and benefits of items and groupings to establish value.”

This internal dialogue has nothing to do with the item being considered and everything to do with room decisions. People don’t want to risk making a mistake on a major purchase, so instead, they ask for a card. The result is lower rates of closing and reduced average sales numbers for retailers.

Solution: Easier Than You Think

Most furniture stores do a great job of teaching new hires about the features, advantages, and benefits of items and groupings to establish value. In other words, they train their salespeople to be competent car salespeople!

You may be wondering at this point how it’s possible to easily train your salespeople to help customers with the vast array of personal issues they face. The solution to that conundrum is easier than you might think! It consists of breaking the problem down into a few simple components.

Teaching the Second Half

The second half starts with uncovering the critical issues individual shoppers face by asking the right questions. For interior designers, doing this is second nature. Their clients expect them to take the time to inquire about their lifestyle needs, concerns, preferences and aspirations. They make house calls, have long discussions and ask prospective clients to fill out intake forms. The time demands of retail sales are different, but the need to address room issues is equally important for closing sales and building tickets in furniture stores.

Useful Skills

The first skill that really helps move a sale along, and becomes easy to do with a little practice, is to teach sales associates how to create simple two-minute room sketches. It’s a skill that never fails to start a conversation and reveal a treasure trove of useful information. Considerations include:

“There are many tricks furniture trade salespeople can quickly use to reveal approximate measurements. Likewise, there are easy ways to quickly help customers identify the colors of items they already own without making a house call.”
  • Finding out what a room’s focal point will be.
  • Which items do they plan to keep?
  • Where do they intend to place every piece of furniture?
  • What will be on the wall just above the sofa?
  • Are the traffic areas spacious enough?

Sketching rooms allows salespeople to uncover important customer needs and worries that may lead to them leaving without purchasing. Perhaps a shopper’s spouse has different ideas about furniture placement, style and color than their partner, but they never discussed it. Or the shopper may not be confident that items will fit into their room without overwhelming the space.

Busy RSAs working on sales floors can’t duplicate the experience interior decorators provide, but they can provide basic tips and guidance. If it’s a small room, lighter colors may be more appropriate. Occasional tables and upholstered items that sit up off the floor on legs can make rooms appear more spacious. If someone feels uncertain that a sofa they would like to buy will color-coordinate with items they already own, suggesting the purchase of a colorful pillow or throw to go on that sofa can give them confidence that the items can be successfully tied together.

You may think that asking your salespeople to get this information from shoppers is impractical. After all, most shoppers don’t take the time to measure rooms or collect fabric and paint samples before their store visit. However, there are many tricks salespeople can use to reveal approximate measurements. Likewise, there are easy ways to quickly help customers identify the colors of items they already own without making a house call or sending them home to check.

“Salespeople also need to be prepared to address the dozen or so most common dilemmas furniture shoppers routinely face.”

Salespeople also need to be prepared to address the dozen or so most common dilemmas furniture shoppers routinely face. People seldom shop for furniture, so they need to trust their salesperson to help them navigate a very predictable journey.

The good news is that with a few hours of additional training, salespeople can learn to skillfully guide shoppers through what can be a confusing and challenging process. It’s my experience that when trained to handle the “second half,” salespeople begin to see themselves as ‘design consultants’ or ‘room coordinators’ and are more likely to become top performers in terms of close ratio, average tickets and customer loyalty.

“It’s my experience that when trained to handle the second half salespeople begin to see themselves as design consultants or room coordinators and are more likely to become top performers.”

Questions about this article or any sales topic can be directed to him at: hsm7777@att.net. Or for more information visit www.TheBestFurnitureSalesEver.com.


About Scott Morris

Scott Morris worked for the four largest furniture retail chains in America as a store manager and sales trainer. He is the owner of HSM Publishing. His mission is to stop the high sales associate turnover rate within the furniture industry. He has written and published six books on various topics, in addition to the “Sales Questions” laminate, and designed and produced the advanced level sales training course titled “The Best Furniture Sales Training Ever!!!” He also produced 12 insightful customer “handouts” designed to bring back the “75 percent who leave without buying.” Questions about this article or any aspect of sales education can be directed to him at hsm7777@att.net or visit TheBestFurnitureSalesEver.com.