How easy can it get? Leave it to the retail co-op Big Bob’s to come up with something simple that makes an incredible difference in your business. The theme of the retailer’s convention this year was: Be proud of who you are. Be proud of what you do. Be proud of who you work for. The store owners on hand didn’t have to have this explained to them. Some are among the nation’s largest flooring retailers and many posted healthy sales increases for 2007. (One owner was up 45% last year!)
The ideas were remarkable in their simplicity: One juicy tidbit that came was the suggestion that everyone working in the store hand out at least three business cards to people they meet outside each day. However, for the owners and salespeople reading this that can’t quite grasp the incredible importance of the fundamental message, read on!
“Be proud of who you are!”
One of my best friends over the years frequently told me that he didn’t want his kids following him into his business. This always bothered me. Is he saying that you should be ashamed of being a flooring retailer or salesperson? Retailing requires the highest levels of creativity as well as caring for other people-all attributes of which to be proud. You have to like yourself in order to like other people. You have to want the best for other people in order to create beautiful homes for them. It takes a quality that very few people possess in or out of business.
To be at the top of the retail business, whether owner or salesperson, you have to be able to offer the same love and respect for strangers (your customers) that most people can only give to close friends and family. One of my most disappointing moments as a teacher came when an industry icon felt compelled to interject something during one of my classes. As I was talking about making friends with customers he said: “Naturally Warren doesn’t mean making friends like your real friends.” Well it’s exactly what I meant. My respect for this individual fell precipitously at that moment.
Be proud of who are-a warm, caring individual who is creative, driven and equipped with the skills to make other people feel better about themselves and their home. You should be so expert at what you do that you can hardly wait until you talk to your next customer to show how you can help them.
Be proud of what you do! So, selling carpet is somehow a lesser calling than other endeavors? Life is tough for many people-tougher than it ever was. There is pressure to maintain a lifestyle that usually requires two people to work hard to pay for it all. The only true place of refuge in most people’s lives is their home. Designs decisions should reflect that.
Most decorators will tell you that the typical American home lacks style and flair, and that many are just “dog-ugly.” No wonder people seem less happy, more distracted and frustrated. We are in the business of creating beautiful homes where people can recuperate, rest and revitalize. We have a mission to make America happier through living in warm, comfortable and attractive surroundings-sounds like a calling to me.
In the January issue ofNFT,I threw out a challenge to owners and salespeople in the form of a simple test and offered a prize. The test asked these questions:
1. Who is your customer?
2. What business are we in?
3. What is the value of our products?
I knew that unless they were Warren Tyler acolytes, there was no way they could answer these seemingly simple questions. One of my biggest frustrations is to see people delve into the realm of retail sales education when, in reality, they do not know what it takes to be a true sales pro. Attitude and people skills are the tools of a true sales pro; not the technical know-how usually associated with sales training. I’ve sat through sales classes that tell you to categorize your customers psychologically or demographically. Others dwell on what each product does. All of this is of little use in the sales process.
A few dozenNFTreaders responded to my questions. It was refreshing to see that few responded with demographics or manufacturer’s “added value” in their answers. Almost every answer was valid. When I asked, “Who is your customer?” One reader who clearly gets it said: “Everyone I run into.” Asked what line of work he is in, he said: “Offering the finest service.” And as for the value of our products? “Making people feel good form,” he said.
Professional selling is an intimate business. Everyone who walks into a store is someone’s sister, brother, son or daughter. Each is entitled to the same respect that most people can only offer to their friends and family. Imagine selling to your mother every day, how easy would that be? Answer: She’s your MOM!
Look at it another way: Say you are a mill rep and your dad owns a flooring store. What would you do if you had a product that was a slam-dunk winner? Would you insist that he sample the product? Maybe come in at night to set up the display for him? You wouldn’t take no for an answer.
The short answer for question No. 2 is: We don’t sell flooring; we create beautiful homes. Rich or poor, young or old, people want a beautiful home. If salespeople can accomplish this, there’s no reason for consumers to shop around. Price objections or any of the other issues average salespeople fuss over become trivial. In wholesale, the answer would be; “We are in the business of creating successful retailers.”
I know this message stings some people in our industry, but the answer to No. 3 is this: The only value our products have is what they contribute to the beautiful home or business. It takes an incredible amount of skill to be in the top echelons of selling. Be proud.
“Be Proud of who you work for.”
Wholesale or retail, if you aren’t particularly skilled at what you do, you end up with whatever job you can get. When you have skills, you call the shots. You can work for any manufacturer or retailer. They will be happy to have you. Having expertise is my definition of freedom. You set the rules. If you don’t love your employer or the way they do business and how they treat customers, you will not have a chance to be truly successful. The day you admit you aren’t proud of who you work for is the day you should start working on your exit strategy.
Think about it. Are you honest enough to say “I’m really not proud of this store but the competitor up the street is a terrific place to buy.” Make certain you’re working for the best employer so you can be proud of who you’re working for. This way you will have the confidence that you are in the right place and under any circumstance the store will stand behind what you sell.