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Marketing mastery: Make 2019 your best year ever in flooring

January 7/14, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 16

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(First of two parts.)

I’ve spoken with many dealers who are unsatisfied or frustrated with some aspect of their business. They say things like: “Jim, I love flooring, but my business isn’t growing the way I want it to; I’m not making enough money; I’m losing customers to the competition; I can’t find good salespeople or installers; I’m working 60 hours or more each week, and I’m stressed out all the time, etc.”

Any of this sound familiar? I know you work hard as a flooring dealer, you provide a valuable service to your customers, you provide employment and you’re an asset to your community. You deserve to have a growing, thriving business that’s rewarding and fun—a place you look forward to going each day where you work the number of hours you choose. You deserve a business that provides you and your family with a great lifestyle, including vacations and weekends off. In other words, you deserve to have an awesome life in flooring.

I’m here to tell you that, whatever your past experiences have been, it is possible to have a great life in flooring, just like the dealers who sent me the following comments:

“I’m working less than 35 hours per week, revenue is up 50%...business is fun again!” —Earl from Saskatchewan

“October was our busiest month in 20 years, November was our second busiest and this month we are crashing new records!”  —Mark, Ill.

“Costa Rica! Blended drinks on the beach with my bride of 25-plus years. We had a blast! Jim, thanks for the motivation to let our store work for us rather than us working for the store.”  —Dan, Mont.

I’ve discovered that almost without exception, dealers who have achieved a great life in flooring have put into place a two-part success formula. The first half of the formula is making plenty of money. Let’s face it, if you don’t have enough money, it’s hard to grow and hire good people, it’s hard to give back and help others, and you can’t afford a great lifestyle for you and your family.

The second half of the formula is having freedom. This means you control your business, not the other way around. If your business has too much control, and has you running around in 20 different directions each day, then you don’t have the freedom to focus on growing, taking vacations or spending all the time you want with your family. You’ll always be stuck on that hamster wheel, running and running, but never moving ahead the way you want to.

There are several steps that go into implementing the success formula, and the first is having the correct mindset. I have found I can give dealers proven, step-by-step strategies for making more money and having more freedom, but those strategies are useless if the dealer believes it’s impossible to work fewer than 60 hours per week, or that wanting to make a lot of money is selfish.

You’ll notice that I began this installment by listing some of the reasons you deserve to have a great life in flooring and then showing you examples of dealers who have achieved it. I did this because I want to help you have the right mindset. Deep down in your gut I want you to really know and feel two things: No. 1 that you deserve a great life in flooring, and No. 2 that it’s possible for you to achieve. Both statements are not only true but necessary in order to get the success you really want.

In the next installment I’ll outline proven steps to help you get there.

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Marketing mastery: Customer appreciation goes a long way

December 10/17, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 14

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

To understand the importance of customer recognition, let’s take a minute and put ourselves in our customer’s shoes. Cathy Consumer is a 35-year-old mother of three, all under the age of 10. She and her husband work full time. Cathy loves her kids and is a devoted mother, but they’re a little weak in the recognition and appreciation department. Maybe they show some appreciation on Mother’s Day and her birthday but the rest of the time her kids rarely appreciate her efforts on their behalf.

Cathy works as an insurance adjuster. Other than her bi-weekly paycheck, her boss doesn’t give her any recognition. The public, whom she deals with during insurance claims, doesn’t give her recognition. Neither do her co-workers.

Her husband, while devoted, is overworked and stressed out. He’s tired all the time and mostly just watches TV in the evenings, so he doesn’t give her as much validation for her efforts as she would like.

Cathy is craving recognition and appreciation, but she’s not getting much of it in her day-to-day life. It’s the same story with many of your customers. Even those who receive sufficient recognition on a day-to-day basis wouldn’t turn down a little more.

If you were the one to give Cathy Consumer and all of your other customers the recognition and appreciation they crave, it would give them great, positive feelings about you and your business. More importantly, it would strengthen their loyalty, so next time they might not be so quick to be seduced by a “free installation” offer by some box store. It would make them more likely to refer you. It would help you create deep connections with your list of past customers.

Let’s look at some customer recognition and appreciation strategies you can put in place immediately.

Beverage menu. After welcoming a walk-in and thanking her for visiting, hand her a beverage menu and ask her what she would like to drink. This will make her feel instantly appreciated, not to mention create total differentiation from competitors.

Handwritten thank-you cards. Send personalized cards to customers after every completed installation. This is something you virtually never see from any business in today’s retail environment.

Customer of the month. In your newsletter and e-newsletters, feature a customer of the month and honor her by sending her out to dinner. People love to see their names in print. Also, people will open your mail to see your next customer of the month.

Acknowledge customers publicly. Thank customers for their business in your newsletter, email and social media. Post photos of their installed floors, along with their comments. Make them into mini celebrities just by buying from you.

Acknowledge referrals. Have a section in your newsletter thanking the people who sent you referrals. Remind everyone of your referral incentive program.

Welcome whiteboard. Put a whiteboard on an easel near your front door. When you know a customer is coming in for an appointment write, “Jimbo’s Floors Welcomes Cathy Consumer” on the board so she sees it when she walks in.

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Marketing mastery: Proceed with caution when purchasing leads

November 26/December 3, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 12

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

The importance of lead generation can’t be overstated in today’s age of online marketing. But beware—not all lead-generation systems are created equal.

Case in point is HomeAdvisor, which is being sued by a group of eight home-improvement companies. The city of San Francisco is also taking HomeAdvisor to court for making false or misleading claims regarding background checks on contractors. Here are just two of the several allegations:

  • The leads sold to the companies are “overwhelmingly bogus” and “illusory” because they are often “over-distributed” or contain, among other things, disconnected phone numbers, people who are not homeowners or contacts for nonexistent residences.
  • When companies cancel their HomeAdvisor membership, HomeAdvisor leaves their company profile page on its website and then sells the information entered by individuals who attempt to contact the company to other HomeAdvisor members.

You might be thinking Angie’s List is a safer bet—think again. Angie’s List, which was acquired by HomeAdvisor in October 2017, faces its own legal challenges. In fact, Angie’s List recently settled a class-action lawsuit for $1.4 million for manipulating search results and reviews.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve spoken with flooring dealers who have bought leads from various “lead-generation” companies and the results are rarely good. For example, one dealer I spoke with was spending $6,000 per month buying leads; 12 months and $72,000 later he wound up with mostly price shoppers. He didn’t even break even.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard many versions of his story from different dealers. I’ve said for years that instead of buying leads from HomeAdvisor and other lead-gen companies, you’d be better off heaping your money into a pile, setting it on fire and roasting marshmallows over it. That way, you’d at least get some use out of your hard-earned dollars.

The conduct of HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List angers me. Retailers are working hard, trying to build their businesses and compete against billion-dollar, multinational corporations who want to put them out of business. Then these lead-gen sales vampires come along and promise dealers lots of leads, then suck them dry with their monthly fees with zero accountability while delivering nothing in return.

When it comes to purchasing leads, let the buyer beware. Here are some points to keep in mind when contemplating purchasing lead-generation services:

  1. You have no control over the quality of leads or “how” they are generated.
  2. Buying leads does not foster long-term relationships with prospects.
  3. Leads sold to you are also sold to your competitors. You will have to call the leads back quickly or you’ll lose them. However, you pay for them regardless.

Another problem is some marketing companies will generate leads using cheap-price come-ons. Any leads generated by this method are predisposed to shop for the cheapest price. So, even if you make a mad-dash to call every lead immediately, many of them will wait to get prices from your competitors.

We all need solid leads to grow. Just be smart about it and remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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Marketing mastery: Best ways to generate unlimited, quality leads

November 12/19, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 11 

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(Last of three parts)

In my last two columns I discussed the pitfalls of buying leads from popular online referral services. I also discussed several proven alternatives to generating high-quality leads. Today I’m going to discuss how to get other businesses to send you an ongoing stream of leads for free.

Every flooring dealer knows how easy it is to work with customers who were referred to your business by someone they trust vs. someone who walked in because they saw your sign or heard a radio ad. Referred leads come in with borrowed trust. Many times they have already made up their minds that they are going to buy from you, so there’s really not much “selling” needed. You’re simply there to guide them through the selection process. They tend to be less price-sensitive and less suspicious. And best of all, they’re free.

If you are like most dealers, you probably have several referral partners already: realtors, designers, remodeling contractors, etc. Think back to one of your superstar referral partners.  How much business do they send to you over 12 months? I know dealers who have earned more than $100,000 in one year from a single referral partner. Not all your partners will be that productive, but let’s run some very conservative numbers: If you had 25 referral partners, and they each sent you a paltry four referral leads per year who bought from you, that’s 100 additional sales. If your average ticket is $3,000, you’re looking at $300,000 in revenue with virtually no marketing costs. If you do $1 million per year in revenue, you could double the size of your business simply by acquiring referral partners.

Getting referral partners
One method I teach dealers is a three-step process that I used to develop over a dozen partnerships in 90 days.

Step 1: Make a list of 25-50 potential referral partners in your area. Send each of them a letter introducing yourself and your business. In the letter tell them about your business, what sets you apart from your competition and that you have an idea that will benefit both of you (a referral relationship). Tell them you will call within one week to schedule a time to meet. I recommend getting creative and attaching a dollar bill or lotto scratcher to the top of the letter to use as an attention grabber. This will generate curiosity so that they’ll read your letter all the way through. Be sure to tie in the grabber with the message in your letter. I recommend sending out no more than 10 letters at a time.

Step 2: Make follow-up calls to all the prospects you sent letters to the previous week. These are not cold calls because you’ve broken the ice by sending them a letter with an attention-grabber, and they’ll be expecting your call. Your only goal with the call is to schedule a meeting.

Step 3: Meet with the prospects for coffee, lunch or at their place of business. Your goal is to develop a rapport with them and find out about how they do business. You also want to educate them on your business, explain why you are different from your competitors and how they will benefit by referring customers to you. Ask them if they are interested in being your referral partner. Get a solid commitment, either yes or no.

By rounding up a herd of referral partners, you can generate an ongoing stream of high-quality leads for your business.

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Marketing mastery: How to generate high-quality leads online

October 29/November 5, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 10

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(Second of three parts)

In my previous column I detailed the many problems dealers face when buying leads from certain lead generation companies as well as why you are better off generating your own leads. I also discussed how any time you generate leads you should begin with the ones you already have: your past customers. Assuming you’re already marketing to your customer list, let’s look at some online lead generation strategies.

Build a strong online reputation. Billy Berber owns Big Billy’s Berber Boutique in Billings, Mont., and has been in business for 20 years. He’s noticed that lately he’s been losing a lot of business to his competitors, Lance’s Luxury Laminates and Wendy’s Wood World. This is puzzling to him because Big Billy’s has a good reputation built on honesty, integrity, great service and quality products. What he doesn’t realize is that it’s possible to have a great offline reputation and simultaneously have a weak online reputation.

When Cathy Consumer Googles flooring in Billings, Mont., and looks at the reviews, Big Billy’s has only a handful, and an average rating of 2.7 stars. On the other hand, Lance and Wendy have dozens of reviews with 4.5 and 4.9 average star ratings, respectively. Billy is losing a steady stream of leads to Lance and Wendy because his online reputation stinks. It doesn’t matter how great of an online lead-generation strategy he puts in place, this problem will hurt results. By having dozens of positive online reviews you’ll not only directly generate leads to your store, but you’ll get better results from all your other lead-generation efforts.

Lead capture on your website. Have you ever visited a cooking website and got a nice-looking pop-up ad that says, “Sign up for free weekly mouth-watering recipes”? Of course, we’ve all seen these kinds of ads. You then enter your name and email to get the free recipes. This offer gets website visitors to raise their hand and say, “Yes, I’m interested in cooking.” The company is building a list of hot leads whom they can market to indefinitely with cooking-related products. This kind of lead generation is used everywhere and in virtually every industry. Why?  Because, regardless of what you and I think about these ads, they work.

My company has implemented this strategy for many floor dealers we work with, and you should implement it for your business. You could have an offer on your website that says, “Free guide reveals the five important things to consider when buying new floors.” Cathy Consumer enters her name and email and gets the guide. We test different ads to see which generate the most opt-ins and you should do the same.

Lead follow up. It’s important to follow up with the leads who opt in for your offer. Research has shown the path-to-purchase for big ticket items averages 79 days. So, after Cathy Consumer opts in, subscribe her to an email follow up campaign so you can stay in front of her throughout that time frame. Every few days send her an email with information that educates her on how to choose a flooring store. Don’t spam her every day with 10%-off coupons, because she’ll opt out of your emails. Send information that helps her in her quest for new floors. This will position you as a trusted advisor.

In the next installment I’ll cover a strategy to get other businesses to send you an ongoing stream of leads for free.

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Marketing mastery: How to generate high-quality leads

October 15/22, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 9

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(First of three parts)

We all know the pitfalls of “buying” leads from popular online referral services: You have no control over the type (or quality) of leads; you have to influence over how the leads are generated; leads sold to you are often sold to your competitors; and, generally speaking, buying leads does not usually foster long-term relationships with prospects.

Retailers need to generate solid leads to grow their business. That’s a given. So, over the next several installments I’m going to reveal proven lead-generation strategies you can put to work in your own business.

What if I told you I could get you a list of leads that’s superior in every way to purchased leads? These leads are: 1) proven buyers of flooring; 2) folks that trust you more than purchased leads; 3) people who have a shorter path-to-purchase; 4) prospects that are much less likely to haggle over price; 5) consumers who are more likely to send you referrals; and 6) people who are much more pleasant to work with.

Oh, and you can get them for free.

I’m talking about your list of past customers. These are, without a doubt, the highest quality leads on the planet. You can’t buy leads anywhere that even come close to matching the quality of your past customer list. Past customers are like having your own personal gold mine. The problem is, only a tiny minority of dealers ever mine their gold.

It always seems ironic to me when I talk to a dealer who is spending thousands of dollars per year buying leads (e.g., the names and phone numbers of total strangers) while totally ignoring their past customers. That’s insanity. And yet the vast majority of dealers don’t market to their past customers.

However, if this describes you, it’s not entirely your fault. Dealers are subjected to an endless deluge of hype and misinformation put out by marketing companies about the best ways to get new customers. I’ve helped hundreds of dealers to tap their respective gold mines by marketing to their past customers, and the results are sometimes jaw-dropping. I’ve seen dealers come back from the brink of bankruptcy to open a second store, increase their margins and double or triple their revenue over several years.

That’s the power of marketing to your past customers. So, before buying leads, market to the ones you already have. It can change your business and your life. I’ve seen it happen many times.

Power of referrals
When Cathy Consumer begins shopping for floors, it’s almost like she’s expecting a baby. She’s excited about it, she talks to her friends and co-workers about it. It’s a big, happy disruption to her life. In all of her discussions with her circle in the weeks leading up to the purchase and installation, it’s a really good bet that at least one person has said, “Hey, we need new floors, too. Who are you getting yours from? Let us know how they do.”

This is why you should train all of your salespeople to ask for—and generate—referrals from every completed installation. Think about it: you’ve done a great job, provided outstanding service, and Cathy Consumer now has beautiful new floors. She loves you. This is the perfect time to ask for and get referrals.

In the next installment, I’ll cover online strategies for generating high-quality leads from the Internet.

 

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Marketing mastery: New ways to generate (and turn) solid leads

August 6/13, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 4

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

(Second of three parts)

In my last column, I outlined the ultimate floor marketing system, which consists of three simple steps: “before,” “during” and “after.” “Before” is what you do to attract new customers before they have purchased from you. “During” is what you do to get out of the “proposal” business. And “after” is what you do following the sale to create a stream of repeat and referral business in a competition-free zone.

I’ve been providing dealers with coaching, training and marketing services for more than 10 years, and I’ve found that most dealers are weak in at least one of these steps. Dealers who have a strong before, during and after system have fenced in their herd of customers and protected them from being poached by the box stores. If any step is weak, you’ve got a big hole in your fence and poachers are sneaking in and stealing customers.

Let’s do a deeper dive into the “before” step. Radio, TV, print advertising and most Internet marketing falls into the before arena because these are primarily used for attracting new customers. Today we’ll look at two online “before” strategies for attracting new customers.

Online reviews. Having a steady stream of positive online reviews is critical in today’s market because: 92% of consumers now read online reviews; 94% of consumers would use a business with a four-star rating; and 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. This means having online reviews is like having another stream of referrals coming into your business.

Reviews are also the first thing the consumer sees when she Googles “flooring” and the name of your city. Also, 73% of consumers think reviews older than three months are no longer relevant, which is why it’s important to continuously get new reviews.

You should have a system in place for consistently asking for and getting reviews from happy customers. If you get two reviews a month at the end of the year, you’ll have two dozen positive reviews, and this will help you attract new customers.

Customer capture. When the consumer goes online looking for flooring, she has an unspoken question on her mind: Why should I choose you over the competition? The dealer who does the best job answering this will get the most customers and avoid having to compete on cheap price. However, most flooring websites don’t do a great job answering this question. This is because they follow the Name, Rank and Serial Number formula—business name at the top, links to what they sell and contact information. Yes, some sites have additional bells and whistles like a room-designer widget or a “schedule an appointment” form, but most are saying the exact same thing: here’s our name, here’s what we sell, here’s how to find us.

A powerful, proven way to answer the unspoken question on your website is to offer information prospects are searching for. You can do this in the form of a free report, white paper or e-book.

By offering this kind of information, you’re positioning yourself as a trusted authority and giving your prospects a solid answer as to why they should choose you instead of the competition.

In the next installment, we’ll go deep with the “during” and “after” steps, so you can close more sales, and generate more repeat and referral business.

Jim Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring retailers. For a free copy of his latest book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes Online,” visit BeatTheBoxesOnline.com.

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Marketing mastery: A marketing system can work wonders

July 9/16, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 2

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(First of three parts)

In a previous column I outlined the differences between dealers who are hunters and dealers who are ranchers. Most dealers are hunters, meaning they are transaction oriented. They spend their time, energy and money hunting down the next customer—bagging it, skinning it and then hunting for the next one.

There are three big problems with hunting. First, it is very hard work. Hunters wander in search of game. Sometimes they get it; other times they don’t. Dealers try to get good at hunting, but, in reality, customers are price shopping and beating them up about how some box store down the road is offering free installation.

Second, hunting is unpredictable. One day there’s game everywhere, and dealers have all the customers they need. The next day they disappear. The showroom is empty; the phone is growing cobwebs; dealers wonder where all the game went.

Third, hunting keeps dealers stuck on the hamster wheel of doom. They work more and more hours hunting down customers, only to make the same or less. If they do manage to grow, hunting takes so much time and energy that they’ll most likely wind up working harder than necessary.

Ranching changes all of that. A rancher’s job is to round up a relatively small herd of the right customers and live in style. Ranching is easy and predictable compared to hunting. When a herd of customers is rounded up and fenced in, dealers don’t have to wonder where their next one is coming from. Ranching lets dealers escape the wheel of doom, work fewer hours and increase their income.

To help dealers transition from hunter to rancher, I teach them the ultimate floor marketing system. It’s a simple, three-step approach that enables them to round up a highly profitable herd of customers and sell to them for life.

The first step is “Before.” This is what you do to round up lots of new customers before they’ve done business with you.

“During” is the second step, and it’s what you do during the sales process to wow the customer, position yourself as a trusted advisor and close more sales. A strong “During” gets you out of spending all your time preparing and delivering proposals to customers who don’t buy from you. Instead, you put yourself in front of high-quality prospects and get them to say yes.

“After” is the third step. This is what you do after the sale to dramatically increase your repeat and referral business. It lands their next projects for you in a virtually competition-free zone and produces ongoing referrals to their friends and family. This is done using a strategic outreach and messaging process to stay in front of your past customers week in and week out.

The “After” step supercharges your results because you stay connected with your past customers in a very personal way and build real relationships, so you can generate a consistent stream of sales. The Before, During and After system is like having a 12-foot, razor-wire fence to keep your herd of customers in and poachers out.

In the next installment, I’ll dive deeper into what goes into the “Before” step, so you can more effectively round up a herd of high-quality customers.

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Marketing mastery: Are you a hunter or a rancher?

May 14/21, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 24

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

“How many of you communicate with your past customers on a monthly basis?” I asked a group of dealers at the Digital Domination Boot Camp I was conducting during the Chicago Floor Covering Association’s annual Product Showcase. No one raised a hand, but this is not unusual. I poll most of my audiences with this question, and at most I’ll see three people out of 100 raise their hands.

“Most dealers are hunters,” I told the group. “They hunt down a customer, bag it, skin it and then they’re off hunting for the next one. But what if there was a better, easier way?”

There is, and that better way is to shift from being a hunter to a rancher. Hunters are transaction focused, while ranchers concentrate on the lifetime value of a customer (LVC). The LVC is all the business a customer will do with you over her lifetime, plus all the referrals she sends you over that period. Being a rancher means all your sales and marketing efforts—before, during and after someone buys from you—are focused on the LVC. Your job as a rancher is to round up a herd of customers, nurture your herd and protect your herd from rustlers, wolves and coyotes (box stores and other competitors). Your job is to fence in your herd, so it doesn’t wander off or get poached. By doing this, your herd will grow, and you’ll prosper.

If asked, most dealers will tell you they focus on LVC, but usually their marketing efforts don’t reflect this. The majority of dealers have some kind of advertising or marketing in place to attract new customers. But after all the time, energy and money spent getting a customer through their doors, they totally ignore them after the installation is complete and the customer never hears from them again. This makes about as much sense as a rancher spending time, energy and money acquiring a herd of cattle but having no fences, feed or watering troughs. His cattle are going to wander off, get poached or die.

The average consumer replaces her flooring about every five to seven years. What do you think happens to those customers during that time? They are bombarded with advertisements from Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards, Lumber Liquidators, Empire and every other big company promising to sell them flooring at the lowest price. There’s also an excellent chance they’ll forget your store’s name, especially if they got quotes from multiple stores at the time.

But what if you had made the shift from hunter to rancher? What if, after acquiring that customer, you put her inside your fence with all your other customers so they wouldn’t wander off or get rustled?

In my sessions, I teach dealers how to make the shift from hunter to rancher by using a strategic, three-part process. Some of the benefits they enjoy include:

  • It delivers an ongoing stream of new customers to add to their existing herd.
  • Their repeat and referral business increases.
  • It recession-proofs their business.
  • It evens out the ups and downs in revenue.
  • It keeps their herd fenced in, so they stop losing customers to competitors.
  • They are able to increase their revenue while working a lot less.

Over the next several installments, I will lay out this three-step process to help you begin transforming from a hunter to a rancher.

Jim Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring retailers. For a free copy of his latest book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes Online,” visit BeatTheBoxesOnline.com.

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Marketing mastery: How to convert more door swings into sales

April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

(Second of two parts)

In part one of this series, I discussed how you can increase your closed sales ratio simply by maximizing your repeat and referred customers. In this installment, I’m going to discuss why having a selling system will also help you increase your closed sales.

“We now have a 70% close rate,” Rob, a dealer from Utah, told me. “And our margins are over 40%.”

Rob had recently implemented a selling system, and he was excited not only because of the increased close rates, but because his margins were so much higher. It also gave him a quicker way to train new salespeople.

Here’s what Rob’s salesperson told me: “I started only six months ago in the flooring business, so I’m pretty green. For months, my residential margins were 30% to 35%. I’d end the day totally exhausted and realize I hadn’t closed any sales. It was discouraging. We’re right down the street from two home stores. People would come in and say, ‘Lowe’s quoted me this price,’ or ‘Home Depot quoted me such and such.’ I was always having to compete on price. A few months ago, Rob implemented a sales system and training program. “Since then, my overall close ratio has been over 70%.”

Admittedly, not every dealer will get results this quickly and dramatically, but that’s not the point. The point is, going from no selling system to actually having one will oftentimes dramatically improve your results.

Here are some tips for developing a selling system.

If it’s not written down, it’s not a system. Every step of Rob’s selling system is in writing. For example, he has scripts for greeting walk-ins, for taking control of the sales process and for getting prospects to sit down for a consultation. His sales team is trained on using a printed questionnaire during consultations.  Having a written system makes it much easier for Rob to train his team and troubleshoot problems that come up with individual team members.

Scripts are important at the beginning and end of the sales process. This is because greeting prospects and closing are the two most critical times of the sale. It’s also where most salespeople mess things up.

Rob’s script for greeting walk-ins does several things: it makes the prospect feel welcome; differentiates him from competitors; takes control of the sales process; and sells prospects on the benefits of having a consultation.

Your closing script should include a reminder of your unique selling propositions, a discussion of your guarantee/warranty information and how prospects could benefit. Instead of giving one quote, give prospects quotes for three different flooring packages: low, medium and high. This way, instead of choosing between you and a competitor, they can choose between you, you and you.

Your selling system should feel like a visit to a trusted physician. When a physician meets with a patient, he doesn’t burst into the exam room and say, “What kind of pills did you have in mind?” Instead, he sits down, asks questions, writes down the answers, diagnoses the problem, then prescribes. Your selling system should do the same thing. Sit down with your prospects, ask questions and write down the answers using a printed questionnaire. Then, and only then, prescribe the flooring options which best fit their taste and lifestyle.

Jim Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring retailers. For a free copy of his latest book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes Online,” visit BeatTheBoxesOnline.com.