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Marketing mastery: The fool-proof sales system

August 19/26 2013; Volume 27/number 9

By Jim Armstrong

(First of two parts)

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 11.10.31 AMIf you don’t have a system for selling, you’ll be at the mercy of your customers’ systems for buying.

I was on the phone with Kate, a flooring salesperson who works for Jerome, a flooring dealer in my Inner Circle Club. I was doing a private coaching call with Jerome and his sales team when Kate told me about the results she was getting. “I’m now closing almost 100% of my sales,” she said.

What made this even more amazing was Kate had only been working in the flooring industry for a few months; she was a total newbie. I’ll tell you what she did to get these results, but first, here’s what she did not do: She didn’t “wing it.”

Most flooring salespeople just wing it when a prospect walks in. Here’s how to tell if you or your salespeople are currently winging it with potential customers: When a prospect walks into your dealership, what is the first thing you or your sales team says to her? If it’s “How may I help you?” or “What kind of flooring did you have in mind?” or something similar, you’re winging it. You may think these questions make you sound helpful and courteous, but it doesn’t help you close more sales because this is what everybody asks. You wind up sounding just like every other flooring dealer in our solar system.

It gets worse. When your salesperson says, “What kind of flooring do you have in mind?” the prospect usually replies with something like, “I was thinking of laminate.” He then dutifully walks her over to the laminate displays, whereupon she asks, “What’s the price?” Then two very bad things happen.

First, the salesperson gets a knot in his gut because he thinks he’s dealing with yet another price shopper. This most likely isn’t true; when someone asks the price of flooring, it’s usually just meant as a conversation starter. She knows almost nothing about flooring, and she doesn’t know what questions to ask, so she asks the most obvious one: What’s the price?

Nevertheless, your salesperson is put on the defensive and loses control of the sales process. Actually, he lost control the minute he asked, “What kind of flooring did you have in mind?”

Second, the basic questions lead to a premature price discussion. Your sales process should be engineered so that price is not discussed until the very end of the presentation. Your prospect should not come within 127 kilometers of hearing a price until after she has read testimonials from past customers, reviewed your guarantees and warranties, has been thoroughly educated as to why she will benefit by buying from you versus all your competitors, and in a dozen other ways was completely “wowed” by her visit to your store. I’m convinced that most sales are lost because of premature price discussions.

Instead of winging it, you should use a carefully engineered selling system that leads prospects on a logical, step-by-step process from shopper to buyer. Then train your sales team on how to use the system. No winging it allowed. (This ain’t duck hunting, you know.)

Kate was able to close nearly 100% of her sales after only a few months in the flooring industry because she was trained to use a carefully engineered sales system. And she’s not the only one. I have many other success stories from flooring dealers I’ve coached to use a selling system like the one I’ve described. We’ll get into the details of creating your sales system in Part 2 of this series.