Part 8 - Help Your Salespeople Get Better Every Day!
Sales meetings reflect the true essence of any retailer’s store culture. They are the ideal time to share ongoing new information and to provide rewards and recognition.
The well-known sales trainer and “success skills” coach Brian Tracy has provided a great deal of advice and inspiration to salespeople over the years. But, when prompted to distill it down to the one most important thing, he observed that it was to “Get Better Every Day!”
The Japanese popularized the term, Kaizen. You’ve probably read about it in Furniture World over the years. Kaizen refers to the business philosophy and practice of continuous improvement. Or, as Brian Tracy would say: “Getting Better Every Day.” The concept includes the promotion of teamwork and providing ongoing suggestions for improvement among members of a team.
A key pillar of this philosophy is building a culture of sharing new knowledge and better ways to perform daily.
Improved Sales Meetings
Every department in stores that sell furniture can benefit from an emphasis on continuous improvement. Those of you who have read the previous installments in this “Next Level Training” series (available for review at www.furninfo.com) know that my emphasis and expertise are in retail sales.
In my view, sales meetings reflect the true essence of any retailer’s store culture. They are the ideal time to share ongoing new information and to provide rewards and recognition to worthy team members. To promote a culture of continuous improvement during sales meetings it’s often helpful to ask, “Who would like to share an idea today that will help us get even better?” Then, when a team member offers a positive and/or constructive suggestion, reward their effort. You can show them appreciation by thanking them publicly with words or applause, giving an award, entering them in a drawing, or providing a cash spiff, a free lunch or a gift certificate. If you make an effort to show appreciation, you’ll never want for eager participation.
Sometimes, after asking them to share, you may need to ask more specific questions to start the conversation.
Here are a few suggestions.
What sale did you recently make that kept a shopper from leaving, and how did you do it?
Did anyone sell a mattress recently to someone who did not come in looking for one? If so, what did you say and do that contributed to your success?
Who recently got a nice add-on sale from a hesitant customer, and how did you do it?
Did anyone try a new close recently that worked really well?
- Do any of you have some thoughts about how management can help make salespeople at “XYZ” furniture more productive?
I am sure with a little thought you can come up with many helpful and provocative questions on your own. Then, get ready for the sparks to fly! But, never let sales meetings become gripe sessions. Always control your meetings.
“To promote a culture of
continuous improvement during sales meetings, it’s often helpful to ask,
‘Who would like to share an idea today that will help us get even better?’”
Are you truly insecure? You may be surprised to know that I sincerely hope you are, and all your salespeople are too! Here’s why I’m asking that question. Every sales education course preaches that salespeople need to cultivate genuine enthusiasm and a positive mental attitude. It’s my view that there is an additional sales attribute that is of equal worth. Successful salespeople must always be concerned that they are not learning enough about their products, store policies, competitors and customers to perform at the highest levels.
Why is it so vitally important to keep pushing yourself to improve? Joe Paterno, the famous football coach, provided us with the answer, “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse!” That seemingly contradictory statement means that if you decide that you have achieved mastery in your professional career and don’t need to do much more to improve, your competition will simply pass you by! When that inevitably happens, you will be worse off than you are now! Washington Irving provided another insight concerning the will and need to keep moving forward. “Great minds,” he said, “have purpose. Others have wishes.”
The 1950s radio show host and author Earl Nightingale, known as the “Dean of Personal Development,” stated that if a person spends just one hour per day studying topics in their particular field, within three years they would rise to the top of their field. Within five years they would become a national authority, and within seven years become one of the most recognized people in the world in their chosen field.
I followed Earl Nightingale’s advice years ago and can attest to the benefits that studying one hour a day can deliver to a retail furniture salesperson. At first, it was tough to force myself into the one-hour daily routine. However, after just a few months, my reluctance was transformed into a habit, then into a real hunger to feed my mind daily!
These hours of study had an unanticipated effect. Sure, I was able to memorize facts about the products I sold, the store I worked in, our competitors and develop professional sales skills. But the benefits went deeper than that.
Your Phenomenal Mind
When we sleep, the mind processes information into long-term memory, making it available for processing into creative solutions and occasional selling insight.
My experience was that eventually, following a period of sleep, my mind would send me a kind of personal greeting. “Good morning” it seemed to say. “Here’s a gift of sales insight your unconscious mind has made ready for incorporation into your everyday sales skills.” Merriam-webster.com defines apperception as “a mental perception: especially the process of understanding something perceived in terms of previous experience.” Apperception is what I personally experienced.
Here’s just one example. After making thousands of mattress presentations to individual customers, the insight that mattress customers all experience the same key psychological moments before they buy popped into my head.
“You can start the ball rolling by introducing the benefits of Kaizen in your sales meetings. Pass on Earl Nightingale’s suggestion that they allocate just one hour of FOCUSED study every day.”
As a retail owner or manager, you understand that your salespeople face constant rejection. They are under relentless pressure to meet their KPIs and manage their time and frame of mind every minute of the day. They must perform ‘on stage’ with each and every shopper.
This surely means that everyone in your store, and all your customers will be a lot better off when you and your team start taking a healthy dose of Kaizen every day.
You can start the ball rolling by introducing the benefits of Kaizen in your sales meetings. Pass on Earl Nightingale’s suggestion that they allocate just one hour of FOCUSED study every day. Consider giving them paid time to do this and a library of materials to make it easy. Then, encourage everyone on your sales teams to share their insights and successes at sales meetings!
Questions about this article or any sales topic can be directed to him at:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Or for more