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Furniture World Magazine


Salespeople who Sell With Assured Techniques... sell more!

What is the "magic," the "spark," that separates sales stars from the superstars? What makes certain people become the ultimate professionals in their field? These select few reside in the "Winner’s Circle" because they keep raising the bar and honing their skills. These are people who Sell With Assured Techniques. Members of what I like to call the "S.W.A.T. Team!"

This article is a bit different from most others in this series. It details words of wisdom from some of the most talented front line retail sales consultants in our industry. If you are a top performing salesperson or know someone in your retail organization who "Sells With Assured Techniques," your insights can be featured in future articles (send them to finney@furninfo.com or fax: 800-784-8488).

S.W.A.T Team Member

First "UP" is Cindy Curley from Norwalk Furniture in Oklahoma City. She "buys into" the theory that what separates the clerk from the professional is working by appointment (see "The Impossible Dream... Sales By Appointment," from the September 1997 issue of FURNITURE WORLD posted to www.furninfo.com in the sales skill index). Cindy only works three days a week. She, however, works it smart. She doesn’t tell her clients she’s "part time." What she does tell them is, "I work with my clients by appointment so I can devote special time to you and Fred. This saves you time, and I can give you my undivided attention. You are very important to me, and I don’t want you to have to wait. I’ll get my book, let’s get you scheduled in." If "Louise" tells her that she cannot commit to an appointment because she doesn’t know "Ralph’s" schedule, well that’s okay, too. Cindy informs "Louise," "You talk to "Ralph." I’ll give you a call tomorrow, and we’ll confirm the appointment at that time."

Cindy (like all "S.W.A.T." members) practices the #1 rule in sales and in life which is that "People React to what you Reflect."

The more value you place on your time, the more value your customers will put on it. You are, after all, a professional. You are not a clerk. "Clerks" don’t work by appointment. Professionals do. Their time is important, their services are valuable. They work this way so that they can be prepared and assist their clients, and save them time.
Cindy works by appointment to make it convenient for her clients. Their time, just like hers is valuable. She averages $45,000 a month in sales. She uses her three days of floor time to meet new opportunities who become her appointments for the next week. Yes, she works more than three days, but at her convenience, on her own time, by appointment.

S.W.A.T Team Member

Rueben Freeman started last October with Norwalk in Houston. He’s getting more comfortable, and confident everyday. He also believes that he has to let his customers know that he is a professional whose time, like theirs, is valuable. "I let them know on my re-approach when I introduce myself who I am (full name) and what I do here (my title). I get their name and the bonding process begins. They look at me now as a professional, not a clerk. It’s the way I start to build a relationship and get them talking. It takes them from ‘just looking’ to my finding out about them and into sketching the room. I love sketching. It gets them communicating. Communication on both our parts is key. I’m now doing more follow-up too, because I tell them that I will be calling, and why I will be calling. I’m also letting them know that I work by appointment to help them. My new appointment book is full. The job is becoming easier. I’m smiling more. I’m having more fun. It shows, they know, and now they want to play! Rueben is shooting for $50,000 in May. So far, he’s right on target. You go, Rueben!

S.W.A.T Team Member

Another consultant who believes in the "power of sketching" to get people talking is Marcy Meholich from Miller Brothers Furniture in Falls Creek, Pa. She works part time for a total of twenty hours a week, writing $500,000.00 in sales per year! Her philosophy, "None of my rooms are stamped "Marcy." I create the room around what "Ethel" wants. Sketching not only helps me relate to her, it also lets me know what she really needs! It’s such an easy way to get her talking when we sketch. It’s a great tool. I use it often. It really works!" $500,000.00 a year working twenty hours a week, Yes, I’d say it works! Get into the habit of sketching, it will work for you, too!

S.W.A.T Team Member

Meet Dianna Taylor from Brandon, Florida. She was #2 last year nationwide of all the Norwalk franchises. She has only been with Norwalk two years. She loves it. She glows! She is great. Here are a few examples of "Dianaism’s" that she imparts to her clients:

"I’m Diana Taylor and I will be your personal design consultant. One of the reasons I am here is to save you time. I give you back your weekends!" None of us has enough time, who isn’t going to want their weekends back?
She tells her clients that all of their worries are over. They can relax. The entire room will be taken care of because, she says, "I’m a finisher. I will not leave your room incomplete. It will be totally coordinated. I’m a finisher." She also let’s them know, "Your time spent shopping is over. You no longer have to hoof-it all over town. No more pain. I’m here to make it easy and fun!"

She sells an area rug with every room she designs. She lets them know, "The rug brings everything together. It literally hugs your room." You gentlemen reading this may not be comfortable saying that. It’s probably more of a woman thing. It’s a touchy feely thought every female can empathize with. Practice it guys, you too will sell an area rug with each and every room. Jeff Hartman from the Largo store "practiced" and followed Diana’s advice. He now sells more area rugs than ever before, and he’s exceeding his sales goals every month!

Recently, the Brandon showroom relocated and was closed for two days. Not having a showroom didn’t stop Diana. In fact, it didn’t even slow her down. She took her show "on the road" literally, and in those two days wrote $30,000.00!

S.W.A.T Team Member

Nicki Robertson had only worked at Norwalk in Houston for three months when she learned about Diana’s secrets of success. The following day she put them into practice, closing her next "UP/Opportunity" for $11,000.00! This is just the first room she will be helping her customer design for a brand new, empty, home! A "finisher" is born!

S.W.A.T Team Member

Another person who is a "finisher" in the Norwalk family is Scott Curtis from Little Rock, Arkansas. Scott compares the "finishing touches" in his customer’s homes to the "finishing touches" in their wardrobes. Who of us would ever just buy a suit? After all, we humans are the only species who have the ability to accessorize! Scott subscribes to this philosophy so completely that his average accessory call is $15,000! Yes, that’s right - 3 zeroes! That’s why he was #1 last year! He let’s his clients know that the room is not complete, his job for them is not finished, they will not be happy until their new room is totally "finished."

S.W.A.T Team Member

Paul Snyder of David’s Furniture in Mechanicsburg, Pa. is another member of the "S.W.A.T. Team" who believes in "finishing" what he starts. He believes in "selling rooms, not pieces." He lets all his clients know, "the furniture is just the cake. The accessories are the icing."
Paul is very new to the world of furniture. Before starting at David’s two years ago he sold insurance for eleven years. "I hated every minute of it. I wanted to get into design and help people with their homes. My wife and I talked. I took the plunge. I’ve never looked back. I love doing this. It’s hard work. It’s hard to be ‘UP’ all the time. But, I know that when they come through the front door, that’s my one and only chance with them. I make sure that I am UP and that I am on! That’s how I can let them know why I’m here, and how I can help them. I love this! It shows. Earlier this year Paul wrote $112,000.00 in one month. He just earned "Master Designer" status at David’s which is about as high as you can go!

S.W.A.T Team Member

Another designer whose passion shows is Seth Kaylor. He started with Norwalk in the Largo, Florida location four months ago. His highest month has been $48,000.00 and he’s taking off from there! What’s his secret? He creates a rendering of the floor plan for each and every room he presents. "It takes a lot of time, but it helps my clients visualize their new room. It creates excitement for them and a sense of urgency because they want to own it all, now! When he’s writing up their order he tells them, "While I take care of the paperwork, you look around the showroom and select the accessories you’d like to have to complete your room."
Seth is unique in that he constantly analyzes information gathered from seminars, his everyday client interactions and many other sources. He notices which techniques work for him and those that don’t. This professional and personal examination is one of the ways he uses to fine-tune his skills. How many of us take the time to do this? We get so caught up in the "same old, same old" that we end up on automatic pilot. We start to do the job by rote. Take a page from Seth’s playbook. Analyze what you said, how you did, and what you did or did not accomplish. Learn from yourself each and everyday.

S.W.A.T Team Member

A "Winner" who analyzes her performance on a regular basis is Rhonda Kleinheitz from Norwalk Furniture in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Rhonda has really come into her own. She is successful because of persistence and patience. She never gives up on her clients. She knows they need her help, is never pushy and won’t let them "settle." Lisa Woods, her manager taught her that she has to tell customers that they "have to give themselves permission to own this." This excellent phrase recognizes that many of our female customers are taught to take care of everyone else but themselves. They, therefore, are not in the habit of giving themselves permission to own something nice! Rhonda helps them to do this.

S.W.A.T Team Member

At Lippmann’s Furniture in Peoria, Ben Bladel their #1 writer credits his success to "longevity." He has been working there for 21 years. Repeat clients and customer referrals fuel his business. "I like what I do and I know alot of people. The vast majority of my business is special order." 80% of his business is the result of housecalls. "Customers come to me when they want something different. I help them with the things they can’t do on their own!"

S.W.A.T Team Member

Richard Hinkle from Miller Brothers also does a majority of his business using the "art of the in-home call." He lets his clients know that to really help them, he needs to see the physical space. "I let them know I’m here to help them. I’m here to make their rooms homey." Richard is terrific. He loves designing and turning each room he creates into a "true work of art!" That’s Richard’s mission!

S.W.A.T Team Member

Hazel Zimmerman is a veteran with Lippmann’s who has a singular mission as well. She works at their Parkway Home Furnishings location. Hazel is #3 in the Lippmann’s stores. She’s in her late sixties, and works part-time. The secret to her many years of success: "I genuinely like helping people. Many years ago before I got into this business, I was sold furniture I didn’t like. The salesperson sold me what he wanted me to put in my home, so now I make sure that I listen. I help people own what they want, what they like. I don’t want them hurt the way I was. That’s why helping them is so important to me." She gets the name and phone number of everyone she meets. She keeps records of their needs and wants. When they come back in she’s ready. They’re amazed that this little woman remembers the most important details that they discussed. Yes, she truly is on a mission. She is delighting each and every human who has the opportunity to meet her.

S.W.A.T Team Member

Another consultant whose goal is to get the name of everyone she meets is Sherry Phillips from Miller Brothers Furniture in Punxatawney, PA. She is relating and doing more follow-up by finding out who they are early in the selling process. She is averaging $50,000.00 a month in sales! She is one special lady.

S.W.A.T Team Members

Another consultant at Miller Brothers Furniture in Falls Creek, PA who makes sure she finds out who "Ethel" is and what is right for her is Val Burkett who is the number one writer. Val doesn’t do housecalls. She does her volume "one room at a time." Rhonda Anthony, who is #2 in the Miller Brother’s family, wrote $90,000.00 in January alone! Her strategy for success, "I listen to what they want. I know my product, and my inventory. All I do is fulfill their needs. I’ve also started working more by appointment so now I’m more prepared for them. I know that when they have an appointment with me, that we will get their room started." Both of these ladies are very quiet, come across as professional and non-threatening. They put their clients at ease. They make them comfortable and build a relationship of trust. Their mission is to listen, find out the consumer’s needs, and fill them!

S.W.A.T Team Members

And then there are two ladies, also at Miller Brothers, who "dwell in the land of laughter!" They believe the old saying, "when you suppress giggles, it goes directly to your thighs!" That’s one of the many reasons their mission is to get "Harry" and "Ruth" to play. Whenever I am working at Miller Brothers and I hear "giggles" from the far corner I know that Kathy Neal and Sharon Stallman are somewhere on the loose! Kathy works part time and averages $40,000.00 a month in sales. "For me, it’s about the challenge, and what I accomplish with each and every customer. I watch, I listen so I can relate. My main goal, however; is to get them to laugh. They need to know ‘giggles are okay,’ because that’s why I’m here -- to make it fun for them!" Sharon, whose "laugh meter" is always on TILT keeps getting more and more comfortable everyday, and her confidence is reverberating throughout the showroom. Over the last four months her average sale has gone from $400.00 to $1300.00. "I’ve learned to lighten up! I give them an assignment. I get them to play! I believe in me now, and I let them know I can help them. It’s working. We’re having a great time!"

S.W.A.T Team Member

Another member of the "Winner’s Circle" who lives in "Play Mode" is Lynn Leake. She joined Norwalk Furniture in Oklahoma City three months ago and is already averaging $33,000.00 a month in sales. She’s having a great time, and she announces to her clients, "I’m making Oklahoma City more beautiful one sofa at a time!"

These are just a few of the new stars in our industry. These people grow, learn, make a good living and reach out to help others. You’ll be meeting more in upcoming articles. Consider incorporating some of their "S.W.A.T. Team" ideas into your presentations so you too can Sell With Assured Techniques and take your professional skills to the next level.



Cathy Finney is President of Ancell Affiliates \"T 'N T." She is a noted motivational speaker, sales trainer, and management consultant. Her latest audio tape series on follow-up is called "The Marketing of "Me, Inc." -Taking Your Company Into the Next Millennium--10 audio tapes plus a comprehensive "how-to" manual that helps your people turn all the customers into "clients!" Questions can be addressed to her care of FURNITURE WORLD at finney@furninfo.com.