It was 1982 and I had worked all day at Mr. Mattress without seeing a single customer. Sure enough, as I was locking up at 8pm a couple appeared at the door. I was tired and I told them I would let them in only if they were going to buy. I was half kidding but pleasantly shocked when they agreed. I was just about finished with that customer when another couple came in. I can’t remember how many more customers came in but I finally left at a little after 10pm with over $4,000 in sales. With retail, you just never know what to expect. But when the time is right, it’s important to learn how to handle multiple customers at once and most importantly, how to close them.
Here are some of the lessons I learned that night combined with what I have learned from the top retail furniture and mattress salespeople over the last 30 years on how to close more sales on a fast floor.
1: Speed Up by Slowing Down- What! Have I lost my mind you ask? The very best sales manager I know closes more sales at a furniture store by not allowing his salespeople to take more than one customer at a time. The overflow customers are greeted by managers and worked until the next salesperson becomes available. Each customer has the undivided attention of their salesperson and the results are more sales. When a store is busy customers will buy faster because of the excitement generated by the traffic. They do not need to be rushed to buy.
Now is the time to follow your system to the letter not deviate from it. Don’t get hung up on the word system. What I am referring to is not a sales system, but your sales system, what you are comfortable with and has worked well for you in the past. Take the time and give the customer the attention they need to engage them and develop rapport. Once rapport is established the single most important step in selling is fully uncovering their needs and wants. By taking more time building rapport and uncovering needs you actually speed up the selling process.
2: Set Expectations- If you are in a store by yourself you won’t have the luxury of support staff to greet customers. After you welcome the customer into the store explain, “As you can see we are very busy right now. Are there any questions I can answer for you or is there something I can direct you to?” If you are in a sleep shop you can show them quickly how to test a bed and get them started in the test area. If possible find out the basic information. Who will be using it, how will they use it, and why they need it. Let them know that you will check back with them to answer all their questions. While it may seem obvious to you, it will pay big dividends to point out that there are many customers in the store because the store has a special sale right now. People like to buy from salespeople and stores they believe to be successful. More importantly, people like to buy from someone they trust and believe is working in their best interest.
On a high traffic floor, especially one that doesn’t have many salespeople, I have always found that by asking the current customer for permission to greet the new customer, they will always give it. This shows that you care about all customers and you can build and keep rapport with all of the customers. It’s important to refrain from small talk until the sale is closed. Once closed, small talk is permitted as long as no other customers are waiting.
3: Group Presentation- Sometimes you simply have no choice but to present to groups of customers at the same time. Some successful RSA’s announce to a crowded floor: Everyone gather around for Mattress 101. This will help you get started. The basics still apply: explain the benefit first and then the feature. When explaining the benefit look directly at the customer seeking eye contact. When presenting the feature use the directional force of your eyes to get the customer to look at the product feature with you. Remember to engage each and every customer as much as possible. This is easier said than done on a fast floor.
4: Recruit A Customer- When this first happened it was an accident. One of my more outgoing customers told another customer what bed she bought and why. The new customer also bought a bed. Your current or repeat customers can be recruited to help you make a sale when you are over run with traffic. Most customers will help you if you ask for it. Warning, do not ask for help from a customer unless you have a great relationship with them. This isn’t something you can force, but when good fortune smiles at you, see it and use it to your advantage.
5: Hold Them In- With the prospect of a better deal. Before I go any further with this you know the rules in your store. It’s important that you follow the pricing and discounting policies of your company! If you do have some leeway on pricing, start by watching your customer’s body language. If they are getting frustrated break away by excusing yourself but assure your customer that you will be right back. Answer your frustrated customer’s questions as quickly as possible. If you have to get back to the other customer thank the frustrated customer for their patience and tell them that you will do something special for them. You don’t have to give the store away! You could give them half price delivery or some other premium that will make them feel appreciated. People do not leave the store usually unless they feel ignored or unappreciated. The key here is to make each customer feel appreciated and respected.
Note- Thank You to Gerry Morris who rewrote this article for me and improved it greatly. Thank you to Ira Fishman who caught a few mistakes and wrote the second paragraph under tip #2.
Action Step- How do you make more sales on a fast floor? Please share your wisdom with us! Your feedback is critical to this blog’s success. Please post your comments and questions. I answer them all. Please visit http://www.facebook.com/PrimeauFurnitureSales and Like us! Our like page has the latest breaking news in the industry as well as product information, inspiring videos, motivational quotes, and selling tips!
Articles? Please email me any ideas for articles that you want me to write. Have you written an article on sales, goal setting, or time management? I’ll be glad to publish them in my ezine and on my website! Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing You Success,