Throughout my 30-plus years as a floor covering retail sales advisor, store manager, company owner, sales / product knowledge trainer, manufacturer’s representative, columnist, author, inventor (layout tool) and consumer advocate, I’ve worked to perfect the positive buying experience for my future buyers. In short, this means I want my buyers to be informed, gain confidence in me and my company, and be able to move quickly towards their well-chosen purchase.

Let’s face it, the process is very seldom looked at as fun. Plus, buyers really don’t want to shop at more than one outlet. They comparison shop at more than one store because they don’t run into a true “Trusted Sales Advisor” at their first stop. A buyer will stop shopping early when they have had all their questions answered. They stop shopping when they find a knowledgeable sales advisor that is working in their best interest. And last, and most importantly, they stop shopping when the whole experience leaves them feeling happy it all happened quickly and to their full satisfaction.

Recently a national car chain put out a TV ad where a couple is shown avoiding all the slick car dealerships and going to a specific dealership that advertises its honesty and helpfulness. At the end of the ad, the voiceover is the woman buyer saying something like “Nana’s got the kids until 9 p.m., looks like we’ll have to go to a movie and dinner.” Then jokingly she says, “what a pity.” That ad reminded me that most people trying to make a high-ticket item purchase want honest information, no pressure, and an advisor than can get this thing done quickly.

So let’s talk about the section of the sales presentation that I believe is the most important part, and one that, braggingly, I think I do better than anyone I’ve ever sold against.

In-home Estimating

Talk to any sales person that thinks they are good, and they will tell you that their closing ratio on customers that walk in their store is about 60% to 75%. Unfortunately, sales people (not advisors) often have selective memories. They tend to count the easy sales and forget about the ones that walked out. Truth be told, an average-to-good sales person closes about 45%. Just look at their pile of prospective “I’ll be back” notes and folders of possible future buyers and you’ll get the picture. Personally, I keep track of my unsold percentage and I can honestly say that my closing ratio is in the mid-60% range. My problem is that I don’t sell to people I don’t like. But my 60% ratio is only because my closing ratio of in-home estimates is above 90%. So as you might guess, my one goal, after helping my buyer make a great choice, is to work every customer toward the goal of getting me to the house to give an estimate and finalize the deal on the spot.

Step By Step

There are a few things companies do wrong in order to make the selling process more thorough and much faster for the buyer. First, they let samples go home with the customer. This automatically adds at least a few days to a week to closing a sale. It also undoes the advice you gave that buyer in the store because they take the samples home, and their spouses, friends or relatives advise them that they are on the wrong track. Besides the obvious problem of potential buyers now being able to shop you with your competition, in today’s world, they can get on the internet and really get confused. In either case, you lose control the second you turn those samples loose.

Why let all your in-store trusted sales advisor help get shot down by outside influences? To keep control – and quite frankly save your buyer the confusion – simply set a time to present the samples yourself during an in-home estimate. So many clerks argue with me on this point. They tell me the shoppers need to see the samples on their own and in different times of daylight in the home. That’s just as ignorant as believing they have a high-closing ratio.

If you have gained your customers trust by professionally presenting products that fit their needs, wants and means, your buyer will welcome you bringing the samples to their home for an in-home estimate. Remember, they want this process to be done faster than you do in many cases. So do that fast. I take every opportunity to either follow my buyer home, come out later that same day, or at the very latest, the very next day.

Guess what? When you follow a customer home, they stop shopping. More importantly, they feel that you find them important enough to help them quickly. Why is my 90% in-home closing ratio a fact? Because I know when I follow them home, they gave me their trust and invited me to continue to advise them in their home.

Clerks also often argue that sales people should not waste their time out of the store to do measurements and give final in-home estimates. Really!? When I follow my buyer home, I not only present the samples in the home, I measure and give them a final number on the spot. If you can’t estimate and give a final number at the house, you can’t finalize the sale now. Why does any sales person want to make a potential buyer wait a few days longer to make a purchase? Learn how to do precise, quick, in-home estimates in my training manuals (of course I’m selling my manuals, that’s why I write these columns). If I’m teaching you how to professionally increase your closing ratio and help you do it faster, then I’ve earned your business.

With more money in your pocket, maybe you can take your spouse to more dinners and movies. What a pity.