To start out on this first column, I have to say I’m thrilled to be invited to write an on-going column forFloor Trends. After writing more than 500 columns forFloor Covering News,Floor Covering Weekly andOn Carpet Magazine, you’d think writing this first column here would be easy.ft_1013_Kelly_img21.jpg

But it’s not, because I realize many of you are a new audience for me. That means unlike my past loyal readers, to you I’m just the new guy on the block. So it just hit me that after 18 years of writing product knowledge training manuals, doing educational talks around the country at conventions and trade shows, and writing for national magazines and papers I have to start all over.

It’s kind of like when a ballplayer comes to your team from another team. Nobody cares what that person did in the past. It’s about what you are going to do for my team today.

Knowing all this led me to write this first column about the founding core belief of what I teach. You might notice we chose to title my column, “The Trusted Sales Advisor.” The way I see it is we all are salespeople in some form. Whether you work for a manufacturer, distributor, or in retail and design like myself, you are selling trust to your ongoing and prospective buyers. In fact, building trust is one of the hardest crafts to master because when asked, the average consumer will tell you salespeople are “expected to lie.” So we have a couple of strikes against us before we have even met our new prospective buyers. Tough profession wouldn’t you say? 

Mistrust & Disrespected Profession

Of the Top 5 most distrusted professions, salespeople fill out four of those spots. They are in order: car salespeople, insurance salespeople, lawyers, phone cold callers, and retail salespeople.

The only non-sales one in that group is lawyers. Personally I think lawyers and politicians are in the highest end of the sales category. Look at what politicians have to do to get elected. They have to gain the trust (or vote) of more than 50% of the voters. Fifty percent of anything in today’s climate is big. Just think if us retailers could corner down 50% of all the flooring sales in just our own town, let alone the surrounding towns.

A prosecuting attorney has an even harder job than that. He has to gain the trust and persuade all 12 jurors (100%) that the defendant is guilty.

So maybe us flooring salespeople don’t have it so hard after all. But never forget you’re still on that list of mistrusted professions and you have to beat that rap before you can become a Trusted Sales Advisor to your future buyer.

Building Trust

One of the reasons I’m writing this column is because of the trust I have in my friend and new editor of Floor Trends. Matt Spieler was my editor for 17 years at FCNews. I always knew I could count on Matt to keep me informed, always be upfront with me, clean up my sloppy writing and, like the great Al Wahnon, founder and former owner of FCNews, Matt’s handshake is his word.

So I followed the man I’ve trusted for 17 years now. Building trust leads to lifetime friends and buyers. And guess what? Lifetime buyers don’t just refer their friends to you. They are proud to let their friends find out who you are.

Let me give you a saying that I’ve coined that is at the core of what I think building trust is all about: “Always do what is in the best behalf of your buyer.”

As mentioned earlier, our future buyers are skeptical at best that we salespeople are looking out for their best interest. And why not, with all the sales scams and tricks played by all industries selling something. Let’s just say consumers have the right to be leery.

In flooring, we have the “buy one get two free” slime company. BOGO (buy one get one) was not a big enough scam, so they had to double up on a certain percentage of the ignorant (meaning non-educated) public. They do this old school selling because it still works today. But they also understand this sale is a one-time-only deal. When people get duped, they don’t come back and they go out of their way to tell the world not to deal with these vultures.

Have you ever noticed the bigger the thief the more they have to advertise? It’s called “turn ’em and burn ’em.” You burn your buyers to make a buck and you turn to advertising to bring in the next unsuspecting group.

Well, remember why your company does so well on repeat and referral buyers. Because you work hard to treat them like you would hope to be treated yourself. You know, I chose the title of my first product knowledge training manual “Selling Clean In Retail Flooring” for one simple reason: I knew if I was going stay in the sales business, I had to learn ethical ways and learn to not sell dirty.

That way, I knew I could sleep at night. Always putting my buyers’ best behalf first makes that happen. In future articles I’ll go into greater depth on methods of how to build trust and feel good about yourself. How ironic that building trust before selling is such a cliché win-win. Your buyer is taken aback to actually find a salesperson who is looking out for her and you get to enjoy your life more.

Here’s a selfish tip. Being a Trusted Sales Advisor pays better.

Well that’s my first; I hope you trust me enough now to read again. As always, thanks for reading.