Never quit asking relevant questions! Obviously, questions are pertinent and essential during the qualifying phase of a sale. However, questions are still valuable tools during all phases of the selling process. For instance, questions during the presenting process clarify statements, determine desires, draw out objections, and direct the conversation. Questions also show concern and help gain agreement on important points.

The term “Humanistic Selling” suggests selling in which the salesperson acts as a skilled consultant for the prospect, asking questions to determine the prospect’s needs and then using that information to select the best product or service for those needs. Therefore, “Humanistic Selling” is a corresponding exchange of information that the customer helps direct and therefore keeps your customer in a comfort zone. The customer’s needs become central to the selling process.

Ultimately, the customer makes the decision to buy as you carefully facilitate their natural process of reaching a decision. Each customer has her own buying requirements based as much on relationships as on product, and it all must unfold naturally. So, do not force your selling steps (greeting qualifying etc.) upon the customer in order to suit your own selling agenda.

In flooring, your main presentation tool is your showroom floor. The manufacturer, yarn suppliers and the store owner devote considerable money and resources so that salespeople can sell effectively. Furthermore, flooring manufacturers have significant developmental costs in showroom blueprints and layouts. Consider making your showroom distinctive by using one of these prototypes.

Your customer’s first outlook upon entering your showroom will usually be a bewilderment of color, style, quality and price. In order to reduce confusion, departmentalize your samples by style. Categorized samples create less confusion for the salesperson and the customer. If your array of sample patterns is scattered all over the showroom, your customer will not likely see all of your selections within a category. Even if you could remember where all the styles are, your customers will become exhausted and perplexed as you pull them from one end of the showroom to the other.

Carpet waterfalls should be color coordinated so that hues of color are sorted together. In addition, various merchandising posters are available from major mills and fiber makers that will augment your showroom as well.

Be the lord and master of your showroom. Know everything about it. If you have in-stock goods, thoroughly familiarize yourself there as well. While it is important to know your best values, do not permit price to be the focus of your presentation. Allow each customer to be distinctive by showing style and color absent of price except when carefully qualified otherwise. Style, color and quality should be your focus.

While price isn’t your focus, you should show value. Therefore, it is important to price products by creating a Manufactures Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), Regular Price and Sale price. (Hint: The MSRP should be higher priced and able to support a 50% off sale, while accommodating an acceptable profit margin.)

Scatter your “sale price” tags sparingly throughout the store to create value, but do not be overwhelming. If everything is on sale, it is not a sale. This way you maintain credibility for both your regularly priced and sales priced items.

Generally, it has been my experience that true sales discounts are simply the inventiveness and courtesy of the dealer. What is a true sale? It is simply an advertised stratagem to encourage customers to come in your store. It is fundamental marketing often built around a holiday or some made up event. Customers simply want to believe that there is a credible reason why items are reduced. For example, consider a “July 4th Sale” or “A Free Pad and Labor” (which really equates to an installed purchase) sale.

On occasion, there are manufacturer and distributor discounts that last within only a short term to accommodate a special dealer event. Private sales come to mind when the retailer has spent significant revenue for a mass mail circulation to selected customers based on geographical benchmarks of income, size of the family, or location.

Everybody likes to believe they got a good price. I once had a customer come into my store who had just shopped a high-end store. At that store, she had selected something that she liked but all of the prices were non-negotiable. She needed 150 square yards (1350 sq. ft.) of carpet. All she wanted was a small discount on her large purchase. She was infuriated by her experience at the other store. “They must think I am stupid,” she said. I took her to a price-merchandised carpet, offered her a built-in discount, and sold the job at a 55% gross margin. She was happy and I was very happy.

Unconventionally, I go a step further and organize samples by price as well. Ascending prices generally mean that there is an increase in the amount of yarn and yarn type, which affects quality and durability. In this way, you can present all of your selection based on need, style and price when necessary. However, at the outset, the customer may not immediately realize this association of style and price, and they do not necessarily need to. When a showroom is organized by style and then price-quality, the salesperson can take control. Still, make no mistake, fashion is the main focus. (Note: Many things determine the price of a flooring.)

Realize consumers are initially confused enough and departmentalization can only help. Remember, research shows that there is such a thing as too much in selection. Massive sample choices can be overwhelming to some customers.

Fortunately, flooring is one of the few industries that can essentially be all things for a majority of customers. That is because with a well-merchandised showroom, you can create an extensive selection within a relatively small space. Therefore, as you and your customer search through the vast array of colors and styles in the showroom, narrow down the possibilities by tilting samples upward on an angle on the waterfall and then, simply put the strongest likelihood’s on the floor. This way, it is difficult for your customer to leave your store and say she did not see anything she liked. If necessary, gather all of her potential selections on a table, re-group, and go forward with new selections.

Further, every possibility should be left for greater reconsideration. Once a possibility has been completely ruled out, put it away. This will make it possible for your customer to go back and easily review all of her potential selections without feeling lost or confused. You are selectively creating an atmosphere of high fashion and tremendous selection. She wants choices without feeling overwhelmed. Therefore, you are systematically taking a large showroom and customizing it to fit her design needs.

Keep in mind, once you organize your store by style and even ascending price order, do not be afraid to move to another category, such as moving from Saxony to Berbers or hard surfaces, when the need arises. Room scenes may expose customers to different styles and new ideas they had not even considered.

Additionally, with salespeople and samples there is something called the 80-20 rule. It means that most salespeople sell 80% of their collection from only 20% of what they have to sell and present. We all need to know our showrooms, but interestingly, even the most veteran salespeople determine significantly different versions of what they consider their top 20% of values. In other words, we are often guilty of pushing our fashion and value decisions onto the customer. Realize each customer is individual and unique, so allow her to be distinctive.

Join me next month for The Presentation—Part 2.