There’s always been this debate among floor covering sales trainers about what is most important in a sales presentation. Is it fashion, color and design? Is it finding the real use needed for their flooring purchase? Or is it finding the buyer’s budget capabilities? All three need to be considered and addressed, but it’s the order you handle them that can make you a Trusted Sales Advisor.
It all comes down to the old wants, needs and means debate. Wants are what we would like to have. Some want a big beautiful home or a fancy luxury car. Some want wealth and fame. Some just want a great family situation and a comfortable life style. That’s the category that I fall into. Needs are the bare minimum we need to make it through life, like food, water, shelter, adequate flooring, and in my case, a good TV set. Our means dictate what level of our wants can be achieved. Our means tell us if we can have the luxury home or just a low-rent apartment. Throughout my learning curve as a sales trainer I’ve heard every different theory on how to make a sale.
Take ‘em to the top
The theory I disagree most with is this one: “Take every buyer to the top first. It shows them that you think they deserve the very best.” When I first heard that sales tactic, I actually laughed out loud at the trainer who said it. He stopped the class and asked me what was so funny. It took me a second because of my youth and lack of experience, but I said, “Doesn’t showing a person your most expensive product before you know their situation prove your ignorance? It seems to me like you are trying for the largest sale you can make.”
The trainer paused, and deep down I could see that he agreed with me, but he said, “Sales is not about what the buyer needs. It’s about closing the deal at the highest profit you can get.” I already knew that these thoughts were old-school selling philosophies, but I also knew that I was stuck in a field where this was the reason customers distrusted sales people. In short, buyers feel that a sales person will always lie and try to take them for every penny they can get. That was the first time in my career that I decided to sell the way my conscience dictated. Basically, to sell clean.
Take ‘em to the bottom
This type of operation or sales person is easy to spot. They believe that buyers are interested only in a low price and they prey on that theory. They have to trick the buyer with low prices and buy-one-get-one specials. Because they work on volume, they have to find a way to build in (hide) profit.
About 10 years ago, I did a training class for a large chain store with about 120 sales people. During the first break, the chain owner and a sharp young salesman approached me. “Mr. Kramer, this is Justin,” the owner said. “He’s only been with our company for less than a year, but he is already number two in sales.”
“Wow! Congratulations,” I said.
“My problem with Justin is that he only sells the featured (loss leader) low-end flooring,” he said. “What could you tell him?”
“Justin, you already have the people skills and demeanor that buyers like, but you might not be doing your buyers any favors,” I said. “If you sell them a product that does not meet their needs, you sell them junk that won’t last. Five years from now, they will be buying flooring again but not from you. It’s like the baseball player who’s the rookie of the year, but within the next year, the pitchers figure out the rookie’s flaws.”
So I continued to explain to Justin that there is a place for low-end sales, but only when the buyer’s situation fits that need, such as when they need to install flooring in a low-priced home that they are trying to sell or when they simply don’t have the means for anything better. And if that is the case, be a good advisor and find them the best thing you can at the low price range they have to stay at. If you want to be that all-star five years down the road, make sure every buyer gets the best product for their given situation. A good living in flooring comes from return and referral customers over the long haul.
Justin smiled with a curious look on his face. “Just pay attention to the next part of the class on the customer interview,” I said. “You’ll understand more how to direct your customer to the best product for their functionality, dollar capabilities or even their color and fashion desires.”
In my own customer interviews, I work first to find the buyer’s minimum needs. What is the function of the area? First and foremost, I want to know what kind traffic they get. Do they have a large family and pets, and is the area light or high traffic? Then, I want to know how long they want that new flooring to last. Are they moving in or out, are they just trying to get it to last through their kid’s high school graduation, or are they wanting to retire on that floor?
Once I know the function of the space, I begin figuring out the buyer’s wants and needs. Is there a style, look or feeling they are after? I will begin to show them products that will fit the functionality of their situation and then show them some products that offer more luxury or higher design. I’ll explain why those products cost more. The process helps the buyer understand which products fit their needs and whether upgrading to a more expensive product may be worth the money. Thanks for reading.