There is no hiding the fact the two main areas I train on are customer relation selling skills and product knowledge. Learning and understanding these two aspects alone can make you a top sales advisor in our industry.
Let’s face it, if your customer relation skills are poor, you may as well quit because all your great product knowledge skills will never be seen if you can’t get buyers to give you their trust and respect.
In short, they have to like you before they will listen to you and become their Trusted Sales Advisor. But at some point in your career you have to add to your list of skills to keep getting closer to the best.
When you look at the best in other professions you’ll see they outwork the field in many ways. You can find a future hall of fame golfer on the practice range hours after his round. They do this because they realize even though they are already among the best, they missed a shot today that would have made them win the tournament.
As a retail sales advisor myself I’m lucky because I’m also an educational columnist and training manual author. So when I put more hours into my own skills, I study a new category in great depth as if I’m going to have to train someone else on the subject. I then write a column on it.
In fact, a few years back I wrote an article on the great positives about good eye contact. I spent several days studying it, before writing about my findings.
Today, good eye contact comes naturally to me and I’m a much better people person for it. So let’s go to the next skill set on which you need to become a professional advisor: Color.
Not only are most of your customers poor with color, most of your competition is as well. So here’s your chance to out shine the rest and help your buyers understand they have come to the right sales advisor. The following are parts of the chapter on color in my training manual “Selling Clean In Retail Flooring.”
Color & Decorating
Color is one of your customer’s strongest reasons for redecorating her home. You’ll learn very few people are really good at color coordination in their daily lives. I can’t count the amount of sales where I’ve completely directed my customer toward her color choice. Most people have a rough idea of the color they want before they enter your store, but your job is to direct them to the perfect choice for their lifestyle and living situation.
Many aspects come into play when selecting the proper color for a home. How much sunlight enters it? What colors are the walls and ceilings? What style of furniture is in the home? Are the rooms large or small? What style does your customer prefer—traditional, modern, eclectic, country, etc.? What colors are the window coverings? What overall effect does she want the color in her home to have?
These are questions you need to ask before being able to help your customer. How many times do you find yourself walking around the store showing every blue sample you have? This usually happens when you only ask the one question: “What color are you looking for?” The customer says blue and you’re off to the races.
Dig much deeper than that. When you ask the proper questions you’ll narrow down the choices very fast. Often, you’ll direct them to the perfect color and it may be one they had never even considered.
As a side note if the customer must see the sample in her home, take it there yourself and professionally show it. If you just send it home with her, she no longer has your help and you’ve just wasted your time.
Here’s some basic color terminology: Primary colors are red, yellow and blue. Secondary colors are green (mix of yellow and blue), violet (mix of red and blue) and orange (mix of yellow and red), Tertiary colors are a mix of primary and secondary colors, such as blue-violet, yellow-green, blue-green (aqua), gray-beige (taupe).
That ends the color portion from my book. If you want to keep up with current color trends, start with the clothing industry. That industry comes out with new colors every year because it has to make sure people are not wearing last year’s colors. Like most of us really care, right? But they need repeat buyers much quicker than us flooring people do. If we sell quality flooring were lucky if we see a repeat buyer every 10 to 15 years.
After a color is proven a winner in clothing, it finds its way into the furniture business, then into wall paints and, finally, to flooring. Those proven colors are normally shown first by the mills that sell better quality and current design. Look at color lines from Tuftex, Masland, Karastan, Milliken and the like to see current up-to-date colors. Higher end carpet mills know current colors, while the low-end carpets rely on 50 shades of beige.
If you haven’t noticed, today’s colors are going darker—walls, clothing, furniture, and carpets and hardwoods. The days of Navajo white and clean whites left in the 1980s and ’90s. The biggest changes I’ve seen in the last few years are to darker grays and browns. Taupe (gray/beige) brown-grays and brown-blacks are very strong in carpets, laminate and hardwoods.
Contemporary seems to be back as well. We’re seeing more solid colors and more tone-on-tone short tightly built patterns in carpet.
Fact is, the majority of colors have always been and remain neutral. It’s your job to explain it, and help advise your buyer to her best color choice.
Thanks for reading.
Based in Loveland, Colo., Kelly Kramer is an author, inventor and owner of Kelly’s Carpet Wagon. He is a 27-year veteran of the flooring industry, with 25 of those years as a retail sales advisor. To contact him with questions or to book him for public speaking engagements, call or email: