In a challenging economy, good business and sales do not come easy.
Maybe you've done your job to the best of your ability, analyzed your market and developed a workable budget for marketing. You've invested a great deal of your time and money developing a marketing campaign for your decorative hardware and plumbing showroom. You've studied the demographic information in order to know where to spend your marketing dollars to achieve your desired results.
You've also asked yourself the right questions: Is the current market in your area primarily remodeling or building new? Is there a viable specification building market starting to emerge? Do you spend your marketing dollars branding your organization or do you market specific products to draw unique visitors into your showroom? Did you make a promise of spectacular showroom service and/or experts on staff?
But one factor you may not have considered is whether the fear of failure is impacting your staff – and your bottom line.
When the Client Comes in
So maybe you've done everything right, and finally your hard work pays off. There he or she is, a potential client walking though your door and carrying a set of plans, as well. You've done it! Trumpets go off in your head, and you realize that all of the stars had to fall perfectly into place to see this potential client walk through your door.
This person made the choice to give up their valuable time. Maybe they could be doing something more enjoyable, having lunch with a friend, spending some time with family, walking into your competitor's showroom or dare I say Internet shopping?
Now that the customer is in your showroom, the sale comes down to the little things you do behind the scenes as well as what your people on the floor do. They do, after all, make that all-important first impression.
I cannot stress enough how critical confidence is here. Because of the challenging economy, many decorative plumbing and hardware salespeople may lose the sale simply because they are being impacted by their fear of failing.
Yes, it can be easy to strain the relationship with a prospect, especially in the beginning stages. The customer might not have been greeted properly or in a timely manner. Sometimes there are small miscommunications.
It does not matter what we, as owners, executives and/or managers, think is an acceptable standard. We all know the rule – the customer is always right, and even when they're wrong, they're still right.
In a different economy, there would be discussion of when to "fire a customer." But to subscribe to this philosophy is to give up an opportunity in countless ways.
That's not to say there aren't times when one has to draw the line. But many "difficult" customers can be transformed into satisfied clients who will give you plenty of referrals if their needs are met and they and their project are handled professionally. Having problem-solving experience and keeping a cool head will guide you in the right direction in this important business decision.
When it comes to interacting with the customer, it comes down to training. It should be a never-ending priority. Selling is a complicated art that takes years to master. People are unique individuals. To sell successfully, you have to realize that no two selling interactions are exactly alike – nor should they be.
Not being able to take advantage of a sales opportunity happens for many different reasons. Failure to close a sale is sometimes a direct result of the fear of failure. Most of us are psychologically programmed toward success. The thought of failure, however, can put a person in a frame of mind where one might be afraid to even ask for the order.
This fact alone is one of the main reasons one or more of your sales staff's closing ratios from quotation to order are below your best performer's numbers. Inviting your staff to engage in open discussion is a big first step in overcoming this fear. Roleplaying is a fun and successful way I have found to address this dilemma. Asking for the order is the most important thing you will do in your interaction with a customer.
Educating your staff in understanding some of the psychology of why people buy is significant. Many people buy for similar reasons. Others, however, will make their purchasing decisions for more personal reasons.
That said, all your clients will have at least one emotional trait in common and that is seeking satisfaction for their needs and wants. The sales professional must understand that all individuals see their needs and wants in a unique and different way.
A need arises from the lack of something that is essential and required. A want may or may not be essential, but acquiring the wanted thing will satisfy some emotional need: i.e. status, ego or pride.
These needs, to some degree, are all related to the desire for approval. Associating status with the establishment where one makes their purchases is one way to satisfy this need. It also means you have done a stellar job in branding your business.
Another status satisfier is the display of that high-end branded product in one's home. Some clients believe that with the brand name prominently highlighted, they are sure to acquire that social acceptance and inner satisfaction they desire.
Based on my experiences with customers, I believe in providing an in-depth education, explaining the many differences in several similar products. Although there is usually a clear winner in terms of value, price, features and quality, some will choose a product with a prominent name brand displayed on the item, regardless of whether or not it might seem like the "best" choice in terms of value, price, features and quality. Sometimes a client will even confess they desire a product only because the brand name is displayed.
It certainly sets the tone in selecting the other products needed by the client. We all know how important it really is to listen; this unique individual has just screamed in your ear.
Communication and open discussion are a major part of the training process. Obtaining this buy-in with your sales and support staff will have the trumpets ringing in the ears of all the people at your showroom.