January 8/15, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 15
By Steven Feldman
Let me first begin this first column of 2018 by wishing our readers a Happy New Year from all of us at Floor Covering News. Here’s hoping 2018 brings you everything you wish for yourselves both professionally and personally.
As I’ve done the past few years, I thought it would be appropriate to use this first column of 2018 to reprint a portion of something that lands in my email every year from Pami Bhullar, retail trainer extraordinaire from Invista. Bhullar continues his tradition of creating his New Year’s resolutions for flooring professionals. He believes if retailers can implement at least three of the following 10 objectives, they will see improved results—especially considering most predict 2018 to be a year of real growth.
The foundation of this year’s resolutions is the belief that upselling is out; rightselling is in. Therefore, the success of retail sales professionals may depend on the ability to partner with and interview customers to deliver products and services that meet their needs, wants and values. Key point: Price is always negotiable but value isn’t. Customers remember the bitterness of poor quality long after they forget the sweetness of low price.
So without further ado…
- Strive for excellence: “We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act but a habit.” —Aristotle. The question is how do we excel and become excellent? Repeat what you do well, improve it every day and you will excel. Have a knack for improving things every day.
- C.A.R.E. for your customers: C.A.R.E stands for consistency, assurance, responsiveness and empathy. Consistently do an excellent job no matter if it is large or small. Assurance is knowing what to do and having the tools to do your job. It is telling your story. Responsiveness is proactively finding your customers’ needs, wants and values and delivering them with the utmost care. Empathy (not to be confused with sympathy) is feeling the way they feel, understanding their perspective, etc.
- Explain the process: Remember, customers buy carpet one, two or no more than three times in their lifetime on average. Explaining the process of how to buy flooring empowers the customer to make the right decision. For example: “Mrs. Jones, buying carpet is very simple at our store. First, we will find the right carpet for you, then we will find your preferred color and then we will select the right cushion to set up a measure.”
- A.C.T.: Action Changes Things. Do something special for your customers, something unexpected. Wow them with kindness and go the extra mile. ACT on what you learned.
- Fiber matters: Learn the differences, benefits and usages of six fibers that are commonly used in residential flooring (nylon 6, nylon 6,6, polyester, triexta, olefin and wool). Present the benefits—not the features or warranties—as customers are coming to buy the benefits. Explain the cost and advantages with simple everyday analogies. Example: Use of nylon 6,6 in high-performance materials such as parachutes, air bags, etc.
- Develop perfect communication: Perfect communication is where precise and clear communications intersect. When your customers understand you, they may not like it but it might be easier to accept it.
- Set specific goals: Goals are like the directions to your destination. The clearer the direction, the more enjoyable the journey. Set a goal of a minimum 8% to 10% growth in sales and two to three points in margin. Put it in writing, put it in front of you and focus on achieving it.
- Health and well-being: This is not a passing trend. As consumers become more educated, they are looking for solutions. Understand and promote the benefits of specific carpets that have technology that promotes health and wellness.
- Price vs. cost: Understand the relationship of price to cost. Price is what we pay and cost is the impact over the long run. Many branded products may have a slightly higher price on day one but long-term cost is less. Price is a feature; long-term cost is a value/benefit.
- Product knowledge (PK) vs. sales training or knowledge: Product knowledge is important, but with the Internet your customers find out many of the product attributes online. Sales training is how to use the product knowledge to match the products with customers’ needs, wants and values. Enhance your knowledge on selling tools and techniques.