All of us have experienced the occasion of observing a sales person demonstrating extraordinary skills. If you have had the opportunity of interacting with this salesperson when you were shopping, a master of legendary service, undoubtedly it was a pleasant experience you will long remember.

All of us with the responsibility of supervising any number of sales people have wished we could clone the extraordinary salesperson, knowing our sales would reflect a very substantial increase. While the inner drive fueling the master of legendary service is a study within itself, there are several skills that we can observe and educate our sales people with.

The masters of legendary service are skilled in utilizing five types of questions to learn more about customers, their needs, and to close the sale. The masters, regardless of the product mix of the store, also know the three things they are selling and in what sequence they should be presented to the customer.

The master will begin their conversation with a prospective customer by engaging with an “open” or “probing” question or statement. The open format can be as simple as a statement welcoming the customer, or inviting a comment in a “neutral area” such as the weather, a new product you sell, or a local sports team.

Utilizing the probing technique requires the master having some additional information about the customer. This would occur for the sales person when the customer has “landed” at a particular display, or is examining a RC car, or other similar information.

The probing questions are appropriate at this point because the sales person has the ability to ask what prompted the customer’s interest in the item, or why the customer is looking at a certain product.

Using a “why” question opens the door for additional probing questions. “How do you like this new car?” The answer will probably include explanations of having owned another car by that manufacturer, or a recommendation from a friend. Armed with this insight, the master sales person is able to continue with the necessary questions which precede the closing of the sale.

The third type of question a master can utilize is a closed ended question. The master will use the question in several places. The closed ended question can be a part of the assumed sale when the master asks the customer if this item is for the purchaser or is going to be a gift. The master can also use the closed ended question to create an add on sale. “Since this is a gift, would you like to give them an extra battery pak to go with it?”

Imagine the customer, having made a selection of an item, being asked by the master, “Is one enough, or would two be better?” The master knows 17% of the time, the customer will decide to take the second item.

By definition, the closed ended question is one in which the answer is “yes” or “no.” The closed ended question is the most frequently used type of question. Unfortunately, we all experience it every day with the lesser quality salesperson as they are asking, “Can I help you?”

The fourth type of question is as often a statement as it is a question. The emotional question or statement can give reinforcement of the relationship with the customer with an “I value your opinion,” or a question/statement of “I know you have three or four cars from this manufacturer. How do you like his new one?” In examining the four questions we have already discussed, it is important to explain that the four can often be used in conjunction with each other, in a variety of sequences, as well as blended so as to create the appropriate scenario for the master. These four being reviewed, the fifth question remains, and is set apart for reasons which will be explained.

The master [of legendary service] is looking for the long term relationship as compared to the “quick sale.”

The “leading” question, while a type of question a master is aware of, is used sparingly. A sales person known for being pushy or a high-pressure sales person is more apt to use the leading question. Any example of the leading question can be observed when the customer has shown a preference for a lower priced product, and the sales person responds by asking, “You don’t really want to purchase the lesser quality set, do you? You know it will not last as long.”

While this may help to close a sale, the master does not utilize it because he or she recognizes the long term value of the customer. It is not simply the dollars generated by the commission of this one sale. Instead, the master is aware of the lifetime value of the customer.

For those looking for a monetary lifetime value, calculate the average sale of the business multiplied by the number of purchases per year by the customer, again multiplied by the number of years a customer will shop with the business. Now, look at the commission, or profit, from this calculation.

This is a much larger amount of money, and the master, being aware of it, is looking for the long term relationship as compared to the “quick sale.”

Lastly, the master is aware of the three items he, or she, is selling. As a master enters into an interaction with a customer, they are expending their efforts to sell themselves to the customer. They build a relationship utilizing the questions appropriate for the situation, and assist the customer in achieving a level of comfort with the sales person as well as a level of satisfaction in the knowledge of the master.

The master then sells the business in which they work. A master can often explain to the customer that this is the business they have selected to work in, as it is the most harmonious to the master’s business philosophy and religious beliefs.

After a master has sold their self and the business, they are now free to sell their product or service. And when the customer is ready to make another purchase, the first thing they will decide will be to talk to the master of legendary service.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is excerpted from the Fall 2015 edition of FCICA’s The Flooring Contractor. See the full publication at