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Retail education: You know this stuff

by Kelly Kramer

As my friend and mentor Warren Tyler always says, the good information on selling is already out there. What Warren and I do is explain it in our books and training talks. Having good, helpful information is great but knowing when and how to use it is what sets you apart.

Old dog, new tricks

I recently met my dream customer. A gentleman came in to my store and shortly after exchanging pleasantries, he got right down to business. He said, “Tell me why one carpet costs more than another.” After some praise for his simple yet wise question, I began my customer interview and product education. It took longer with this customer, but he was interested.

He explained he wanted to replace all the carpet in his house. He and his wife planned on retiring there and figured they would spend another 15 to 20 years in the home. He had medium to light traffic and one golden Labrador. His house was in the country and red dirt was a problem. His wife liked dressy but casual furniture design and was very proud of her home. At this point, I was armed and ready to explain exactly the information he needed to know. Where many salespeople go wrong is spilling all their knowledge before they know what needs to be learned. Only teach what is applicable to each situation.

I started with the difference between fiber types. Next was yarn structure in twist, thread count or staple versus continuous; style types like plush, textured, Berbers, and how they show footprints, seams, traffic and dirt patterns differently. This all began to make him understand why one carpet costs more than another.

My presentation always explains that a better built carpet costs more because it lasts longer. More simply put, which one will look like new longer? Of course, there are a few non-performance reasons that add cost like barber poles, premium branding, advertising, bulk of yarn and thickness denier piles, but the main reason is structure. At this point, he began to under- stand that he really needed a higher-grade carpet.

Features and benefits

From there, I was able to process the information he had given me about his wants and needs, but not his means. That was obvious once he understood what it took to achieve his long-term goal—a carpet that could stand up to 20 years of retirement, plus a dog.

Now, I was able to start with my favorite line: “From what you have told me, a tightly twisted, continues filament, cut Berber with textured fleck should be perfect.” They liked soft, thick carpet so I directed him to a well-built PET line. I sell a great deal of polyester when the situation calls for it. I explained the line will hide some of his red dirt better than others, it will not shed, it will be very stain resistant, will show less foot prints than a smother, napped plush, and it’s going to have a fantastic rich barefoot appeal.

Then I said, “Let’s pick out about four color samples that will go with your décor and also hide your red dirt and golden lab’s fur. I’ll bring these samples out to show you and your wife when I take the measurement.” It’s important to never send the samples home with the buyer, or you may never see them again.

This customer’s question reminded me of what I was sup- posed to be doing. Not only was there a sale, it got me back on track. Do yourself a big, financial favor and buy Warren’s and my books because you may know this stuff, but we teach you how and when to use it.

Thanks for reading.