During the course of my nearly 22 years of writing and reporting for this industry, I’ve been to countless residential and commercial trade shows, conventions, meetings, etc., not to mention on a daily basis being able to communicate with people throughout the country from every level and sector of the industry.
In addition to speaking with CEOs, salespeople, installers and so forth, by attending all the events I do, I’ve been fortunate to listen to some of the world’s foremost speakers and educators on various topics meant to help audience members improve their businesses.
These opportunities have afforded me great insights into the world of flooring from different perspectives. I get both the bird’s eye view as well as what is happening in the “trenches.”
Not meaning to make this sound about me, as it is not. In reality, what all these interactions have done is allow me to not just report on the major happenings, latest advancement and trends, but to put together bits and pieces of information that when looked at by themselves may get overlooked or not given as much attention because they are perceived to be local or exclusive in nature.
Along the lines of the latter, something interesting has struck me at the various events this year and it has to do with retail selling and how it should be done.
From mill and buying group executives speaking to their aligned dealers to keynote presentations by various experts, a general theme seems to be cropping up. What is fascinating is it is, in essence what our esteemed columnists Kelly Kramer and Warren Tyler have been preaching for years: People buy from people they like; people buy from people they trust.
Maybe Warren and Kelly were far ahead of their time but the concept of treating customers as if they are your close friends or family members is a key part of the foundation on which they have based their selling and teaching careers—and a reason why each has found the success they have.
One major buying group recently implored its members to change how their salespeople are called—literally taking out the word “sales” and replacing it with a more comforting, trusting term.
Maybe this change is finally happening due to the changing face of today’s consumer. Whether it’s the post-recession baby boomer or the up and coming millennial, combined with the rapid advancement of technology and social media, which allows one person’s review of a company to now reach millions, it appears the powers that be are taking note and coming to the conclusions Kelly and Warren reached many years ago: Consumers want to be helped, not sold, and they want to be helped by people whom they believe have their best interest at heart—the same way you would sell something to your best friend or family member.
This may not seem like rocket science and, in all my years of editing and reading what our columnists have to say, it always seemed like a no-brainer. Yet, for some reason, until recently, the “hard” selling methods continued to be taught and preached.
Though the recession was certainly a killer, something positive might have come from it: The knowledge that consumers want a salesperson they deem a trusting friend and not someone just looking to make a sale.
Hopefully this new mindset sticks because for many years Warren, Kelly and other top salespeople have proven it works.