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Marketing mastery: Home Depot is gunning for you

January 5/12, 2015; Volume 28/Number 14

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

(First of two parts)

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 1.09.44 PMDuring a recent Marketing Mastery webinar I asked attendees, “Have you ever lost customers because you couldn’t match Home Depot’s $39 installation?” More than half said they had. Well, Home Depot has upped the ante; if you’ve lost customers because you don’t know how to counter the $39 installation lie, get ready to lose even more now that Home Depot is offering to install it free.

And this isn’t the only tactic the Big Orange Giant is employing to attack local flooring retailers. Individual Home Depot stores are given fairly wide latitude to be “creative” in their advertising. One way some of the stores are expressing their creativity is to mention specific local flooring retailers in their signage: “We’ll Beat Any Bayside Flooring Store Quote By 10%.” Statements like this are posted in Home Depot flooring departments for all your potential customers to see.

Of course, Home Depot is not the only business gunning for you by promising to do it for less. Lumber liquidators, Empire, Lowes and RC Willy have got their crosshairs on you. To make matters worse, dealers in your market are sweating bullets over this onslaught, and since many of them don’t have the sales and marketing skills to command premium prices, they resort to cheap-price selling just to be “competitive.” This creates a snowball effect where entire market areas become awash in low-price come-ons.

Here’s a fun exercise for you. Google “flooring ______” and insert the name of your city. There’s a good chance anywhere from 25% to 50% (or more) of the listings at the top of the search will have some sort of cheap-price language.

You don’t have to succumb to the downward price pressure. I know many dealers who command premium prices and stay very busy. If they can do it, so can you.

Most dealers would like to put Home Depot in their crosshairs for a change. One critical component of accomplishing this is by creating total differentiation. If you fail to create differentiation you are forcing your prospects to make a decision based on price. Consider some strategies that not only create differentiation, but position you and your salespeople as trusted advisors and help create a zero-resistance selling environment.

When a prospect walks into your store, instead of saying, “How may I help you?” or “What kind of flooring did you have in mind?” say, “Welcome to Jimbo’s Floors! Are you a new or returning client? A new client? Great! We have a special program for new clients. Can I take a quick minute and tell you about it?”

During your sales process, ask questions that cause prospects to “paint a target” on themselves:

  • What’s important about new flooring to you?
  • What did you like about the last time you had flooring installed? What did you dislike?
  • How can we exceed your expectations?

Listen carefully to the answers because your prospect will tell you exactly what you need to know to close the sale.

When a prospect says she can get her carpet installed free at Home Depot, tell her, “Great! You’ve come to the right place. We fix free installations!” Hang a banner or window sign conveying the same idea.