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Dear David: Sales associates vs. measure guy

January 30/February 6, 2017: Volume 31, Number 17

By David Romano

Dear David:
Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 3.15.31 PMI lost one of my sales associates and if I continue to have the salespeople measure their own jobs I am afraid the floor will be short until I find someone and get them trained. I have a retired installer I can get to go out and do the measures for my whole team. If I use him I won’t have to hire a new salesperson. What should I do?

Dear Torn Owner,
I can understand your dilemma and in the short-term you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Leaving the floor short could cause its own set of problems while having a measure person can create an entirely different set of issues.

I think the most important thing to keep in mind is what is best for the customer. If you were the customer, would you rather have the initial salesperson complete your measure or have someone you have never met enter your home to measure your project?

Better yet, in a recent study completed by the WFCA consumers reported a 20-point decrease in their propensity to make a purchase or refer a friend when the sales associate did not complete the measure. Once the connection was broken and another person entered the scene the customers were less likely to seal the deal.

I am heavily in favor of sales associates completing their own measures because the benefits are quite staggering. Close rates are nearly 10 points higher and average tickets increase by almost $300. However, to achieve those results sales associates must be properly trained, spend enough time building rapport with the customer, use the correct technology and do the job right. Having someone complete the measure who is ill prepared or cannot allocate the right amount of time to do a proper job is counterproductive.

According to the same WFCA study, the majority of measures lasted less than 20 minutes. 32% of Independents took over 20 minutes and only 22% of big boxes took over 20 minutes. Not surprisingly both groups scored poorly on the in-home experience. How much rapport can be built in 20 minutes? This is a great chance to get to know the customer and make a genuine connection. It is also a great opportunity to measure the entire home just in case she is thinking of other flooring projects in the near future.

Here are the negatives. Statistically speaking the gross margin, when sales associates do their own measures, decreases by nearly one point. However, even though the jobs become less profitable, the offset in increased close rates and spike in the average sale more than make up for gross margin deficiency.

There are ways to counter this problem. First, properly train your sales associates. Have them test measure areas in the store and present you with quotes for multiple surfaces. Also, allow them to shadow another sales associate on in-home measures until they are comfortable on their own. Second, have them use a measuring software coupled with a Disto laser to produce accurate measures.

The biggest advantage to your sales associates completing the measure versus a measure guy is the ability to quote in the home and seal the deal right then; hence the 10-point increase in close rates.