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Retail Education: K.I.S.S.

by Kelley Kramer

That’s right—K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, salesperson. When I started selling flooring, I studied product like no one else in my store had ever seen. As a rookie, I knew I had catching up to do and truly wanted to impress my customers. When that next buyer came in, she got the full lesson on basically everything I had learned up to that date. Quite frankly, it set me apart and I did very well for being the new guy.

The joke from my fellow salesmen was that Kelly’s customers knew more than they did, but being a know-it-all had its positives and negatives. Several times I went way over my customer’s head and often lost those who got bored with it.

Then a friend—the store manager—pulled me aside and said, “I’m very happy with your numbers and commitment and it’s great to be informed, but you really only need to educate your customer on what applies to her situation.”

That was when I learned my current selling theory. Simply put, you have to find her real need or problem and explain that you have a product to fix the problem. That’s when I came up with the list of questions called the five W’s of the customer interview: who, what, why, when, and where. Armed with information about her buying circumstances, I can not only direct a buyer to the best product for her given situation but explain why my product will cure what ails her. Then, I use one of my few canned lines, “From what you have told me, this product fits perfectly.”

Perhaps the best part about giving only necessary information is that your buyer can understand and justify the price needed to do the job correctly. Educate someone enough to make a wise decision and you instantly become a trusted advisor.

Personally, I have never believed the theory to always take her to the top to show her she deserves the best. I’ve always felt that when a salesman takes me there without knowing if that’s my goal, they play me for stupid and just want every penny they can get. For those who still think price is everything, this system justifies spending more money—or less at certain times if you have asked and listened.

As a sales advisor, I only want three things. First, I want to get my buyer the best product for her given situation. Second, I want her to feel she found a trusted advisor. Third, and most importantly, I want her friends to come in and say, “John and Joan Smith sent us in and said you are the only person they would ever buy from.” You might be surprised that my average sale is very high with this method.

Two-minute education
My store sells an unusual vol- ume of tile and I have a simple education I give most first time buyers. First, I ask if she would like a two-minute education as to why one tile costs more than another—the answer is always yes.

This K.I.S.S. version starts with, “Ceramic tile cost is based on two things: What is the base, or bisk, made of, and how long does it take to achieve the look they want? For the base, we look at materials. Red clay is the lightest weight, lowest density base, then white clay followed by porcelain base. Next is how they coat the top: Is it one color or four? Does it take time to texture the tile or to add a stone like imprint?” I explain the difference in types of porcelain and how they are produced. After all that, my buyer can decide what’s important to her. Simple? Yes, but educational enough for her to buy with confidence.
Thanks for reading.