Over 154 Years of Service to the Furniture Industry
 Furniture World Logo

Next Level Sales Training—Part 13

Furniture World Magazine


Part 13— by Scott Morris

Three critical things are missing in your sales training!

Here are three major insights that can turn a $1 million dollar writer into someone who writes twice or three times that amount.

Youth certainly has its advantages, but so does experience. I spent the first four decades of my furniture retail career earnestly attempting to climb to the proverbial mountaintop of my retail sales career. Youthful energy and enthusiasm kept me moving along every day. However, just a few years ago, I finally reached the pinnacle.

The world looks different from a top-down vantage point than it does from the bottom-up. From my top-down view, I’ve seen my retail sales and sales management career more clearly. Following retirement from active sales and a transition to a post-retirement career in sales training, glaring weaknesses and inadequacies in our industry that I did not identify earlier came into full view.

It was as if my mind refused to retire from active sales. It was like a computer that kept running, synthesizing unconscious memories and experiences from years of conscious thinking about sales! Often, it “connects all the dots” in a flash of insight while doing something different, such as driving, out on a boat fishing or hitting the links.

Here are just two thoughts I would like to share in this Next Level Training installment before moving on to the main focus of this article. First, keep the mature people in your organization who have climbed to the top of their profession! The energy and enthusiasm of the young and the perspective and wisdom of older folks complement each other. Second, if you are thinking about retirement, for the reasons just mentioned, your most important contributions to our industry may occur after you retire.

“What accounts for the difference between a $1million writer and someone who writes twice that much annually? How about the chief difference between a $2 million and a $3 million writer?”

Three Key Things Everyone’s Sales Training Lacks!

  1. The New You. When someone joins the military, they are taught much more than the basic skills required to do a particular job. The training is also designed to transform them as individuals into steely “freedom fighters” with the resolve to persevere and overcome, regardless of the odds or obstacles.

    Similarly, when you onboard and train new salespeople, you must provide them with much more than just information about how to do their jobs. You must transform how they think about themselves by providing them with the proper mindset to succeed and SUCCEED BIG! This means imparting the many crucial Success Skills they must internalize during your boot camp orientation training.

    Every raw recruit needs to be trained exceptionally well regarding what it takes to succeed in your organization. This includes how to:

    • Achieve the proper focus every minute of every workday.
    • Have the proper attitude.
    • Sustain a commitment to constant growth.
    • Consistently help other team members.
    • Be known for having a great work ethic.
    • Focus on conflict avoidance and ongoing self-evaluation.
    • Identify personal and process weaknesses.
    • Cultivate impeccable ethics.

    To show a new commitment to excellence and avoid constantly “turning the bottom,” your training motto should be: “We thoroughly train everyone to Succeed Big!” That also means beginning every new orientation training with the most important message of all: “Welcome to the brand-new YOU, a committed, virtually unstoppable Success Machine!”

  2. Teach Your Salespeople This Golden Perspective. What accounts for the difference between a $1 million writer and someone who writes twice that much annually? How about the chief difference between a $2 million and a $3 million writer? In each case, superior writers always take their customers to a much “better place” conversationally!

    Here’s a simple explanation of what’s meant by that. The million-dollar writer will do a good job focusing on all the important features and benefits of the presented merchandise and other store offerings appropriate for a particular customer. The salesperson writing twice as much will do that too, but focus much more heavily on the customer relationship, emphasizing product usage, presented in a way that highlights their personal needs.

    The first salesperson might say something like this, “These dovetail drawers use the strongest of all drawer joints, meaning they are very sturdy and will last a long time!”

    The second salesperson would approach information-sharing a little differently by presenting the same quality story in a much more meaningful, personalized way. They might say, “Mary, you indicated that your two little ones are only four and five years old. These dovetailed drawers are perfect for you because they are the strongest drawer joinery in the industry. If Jenny or Tommy ever pull, hang on or climb in these drawers, they won’t break. Incidentally, this chest complies with CPSC regulations that protect children from injury due to clothing storage unit tip-over. Also, this type of drawer construction will enable you to pass these pieces on to Jenny or Tommy as the perfect heirloom gift and treasured memory of the wonderful time they had while growing up in your home!”

    So, after reading the second salesperson’s words, you may now wonder, “What in the world could a $3-million writer possibly do that’s better than that?” Here’s that very empowering key insight! They will always focus on the customer’s future business rather than just today’s sale! They would add the following types of phrases to set themselves apart. “Mary, my mission is to help you to not only get exactly what you want but also something that will work perfectly for you for as long as you need it! I’m here to serve you, not the store. I truly have YOUR best interest at heart. If I believe something won’t work well for you, I will be honest and let you know. I believe that’s why nearly all my past customers ask for me when they return with a future need.”

    The differences among these three types of salespeople are based on what’s primarily driving their thinking. The first salesperson was focused almost exclusively on “the stuff” the shopper was looking at. The second salesperson covered the merchandise well, but emphasized “personalizing” the relationship. The last salesperson did these two things, plus focused on building strong bridges and creating bonds with customers to get their future business!

    Hey, if you disagree, here’s a good question for you! What’s the very best way to describe a $3 million writer? It’s someone who writes tons of repeat business!

  3. “How your salespeople view their role in the selling process is what drives the rest of their thinking and their behavior in every sales transaction.”
  4. Take Them on a Journey!

    The following insight is so powerful it could improve even a $3 million-dollar writer’s performance. I’d like to introduce you to a new concept—one I refer to as “journeying” with your customer.

    The more perspectives a salesperson enables customers to have when presenting merchandise, the better those customers will bond with items and the more comfortable they will be with the salesperson. For example, when presenting a recliner, pull it away from the wall so the customer can look at its back and underneath it. Then, fully recline it and ask them to look at it extended while standing some distance from the side. The idea is that greater familiarity creates increased likability, which translates into greater decision-making confidence.

    The feeling I used to get after extending my presentations in this way was one of having been on a journey of exploration with the customer. I hardly ever lost a sale once I reached this point. There is another type of journeying that accomplishes the same thing. It consists of going on a mental journey with a customer to several locations without physically leaving the store!

    Here’s what I mean. Through the use of skillful conversation, have the customer take you on a tour of their room. A few basic questions can easily get things off and running. “What’s your room’s focal point? What items will you be keeping in the room? Where will they be located in the room? What are your wall and carpet colors like?”

    The more places you journey to, the better! Below are two examples I might use.

    Before reading them, remember that the “journey” taken should be different for each store and customer. It would be inappropriate and perhaps insulting to suggest (as in the examples below) that a customer who selected a $20,000 sofa go to the dollar store to purchase fiber filling. Or, to consider that they might want to change out the custom-crafted hardware on a high-end bedroom set with knobs purchased at Home Depot.

    Example #1: “Ms. Customer, if you want to change the look of this hardware later on, just go to the hardware aisle at Home Depot and check out dozens of available choices. Have you been down that aisle before? These knobs have no backplates, so they will be easy to change if you ever want a different look later on.”

    Example #2: “Ms. Customer, over time, this polyester fiber filling in the oversized sofa arm cushions may flatten out. Simply get an inexpensive bag for about $5 at Walmart and add stuffing. They will be like new again! And also, to keep things from sliding in your new living room table’s drawers and even the seat cushions from slipping in the older furniture you’ll be keeping, just go to the local Dollar Store, and for about $1, you can get six feet of no-slip grip material!”

    I encourage you to brainstorm dozens of ways to journey with your store’s customers. When done well, the net effect is that it helps them in ways other salespeople never thought of. Doing this takes the salesperson-customer relationship to a much higher level. After all, how could you both not be much better friends after having just traveled to the Dollar Store to buy non-slip materials or perhaps an art gallery to purchase original contemporary art to go over their $20,000 ultra-contemporary sofa?

Wishing You the Very “Best” on Your “Journey” of Sales Improvement. Happy Selling!


About Scott Morris

Scott Morris worked for the four largest furniture retail chains in America as a store manager and sales trainer. He is the owner of HSM Publishing. His mission is to stop the high sales associate turnover rate within the furniture industry. He has written and published six books on various topics, in addition to the “Sales Questions” laminate, and designed and produced the advanced level sales training course titled “The Best Furniture Sales Training Ever!!!” He also produced 12 insightful customer “handouts” designed to bring back the “75 percent who leave without buying.” Questions about this article or any aspect of sales education can be directed to him at hsm7777@att.net or visit TheBestFurnitureSalesEver.com.