September 3/10, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 6
By Tom Jennings
I was recently coaching a group of retail salespeople who were new to the flooring industry. While having a coffee break, the conversation shifted to infomercial salespeople. The general tone was one of amusement at the manner in which they conveyed their particular message for the product they were currently promoting.
When I inquired whether they thought this method of selling was effective, the general tone was, “It may work for them—but I couldn’t do it.” My response was if they were serious, then possibly they had chosen the wrong career path. Explaining my remarks, I reminded them of the selling basics these late-night salespeople have mastered. Let’s examine a few:
Be a believer. If you want to be believed, you must first be a believer yourself. Always remember that we buy based on emotion. Is there ever a shadow of doubt that these product pitch people believe they are selling the very best solution to the problem at hand? They are enthusiastic to a fault. Contrast this to the indifference that is so prevalent among most clerks you encounter today. When we are positive with our message, sales always increase.
Your job is to sell. Is educating the customer an important factor in a sales presentation? Absolutely. However, education is only a vehicle to help the customer make a decision. Too many salespeople see the “education of the customer” as their primary goal. It is not. Your job is to sell. Never forget to create a compelling reason for the customer to buy now. You’ll never hear a professional salesperson say, “Call me when you get a minute.” It is always “call now.” Their voice inflections and facial expressions help create a slightly urgent tone to encourage the prospect to move quickly. I’m living proof that you certainly do not have to be an “in-your-face-hard-closer” type to ask for the order. Develop your own technique. Just don’t forget to ask for the sale.
Do the demo. Infomercial salespeople never make a presentation where they fail to visibly demonstrate the superiority of their product. They don’t just tell you a product works—they show you. What do you do to demo your products and services to get the customer excited? This is crucial to your success. Without the “wow,” they won’t be buying now.
Be the difference. Let’s be realistic—most salespeople sell products and services that are nearly identical, or perceived as such, to those sold by the competition. So how do you differentiate yourself and your firm from similar competition? The answer is simple—it’s you. While products may be similar in the customer’s judgment—you cannot be. While your product may be hard to differentiate, you are not. You must stand apart and be memorable.
Successful salespeople always develop a style that works for them. Don’t try to copy their style because it won’t work. It’s critical that you be yourself to be perceived as genuine. You need to develop your own style that is comfortable for both you and your target customer. What you do want to emulate, however, are some of the techniques proven to get people off of their couches and reaching for their wallets. In today’s retail environment, this is more important to your success than ever. As they say on late night television: “Act now.”
Tom Jennings is vice president of professional development for the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA). Jennings, a retail sales training guru, has served in various capacities within the WFCA.