22 April 2024, 23:19
By Adam Hankinson Dec 18, 2020

Selling in a winter wonderland

After 40 years of selling furnishings, studying customers and working every Boxing Day, Furniture Sales Solutions’ Adam Hankinson knows firsthand that the “lesser spotted value hunter” is to be seen in abundance in a furniture store near you soon – but making sure they spend with you, and not a competitor, is no easy task …

You’ll expect to generate 25-30% of your annual sales turnover by the end of February, and probably a third of this figure in the first two weeks of the winter sale – and a scary 90% of all furnishings customers have done some research before they enter your store, so you sure as hell need to be ready!

Customers are more prepared than ever, and often more savvy and more aware of what your competitors offer than you are. Let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that pent-up demand, and the fear that a no-deal Brexit (and its subsequent price increases) will automatically scare browsers into buying on the day …

Doing the rounds

From Boxing Day morning, many customers will ‘do the rounds’ – some of them spending their whole Christmas break visiting every one of the dozen or so national and independent retailers on your retail park or out-of-town location.

In their mind (and eyes) they see no difference in many products, and the view that all recliners and beds look the same to a layperson should be our starting point in demonstrating our expertise.

To stand out, you must be outstanding

That’s outstanding in our attitude that every customer matters, and our job is to be the point of difference, and not get lost in the melee of salespeople pouncing clumsily to close the deal as quickly as possible or standing back waiting for the “can I order this one please” moment.

Outstanding in how much we care about our customer’s situation, and the fact that they may have been waiting months, saving every hard-earned penny. Many will come armed with their ‘present to self’ – a new iPad or similar device to live-check model names, specifications and, of course, the all-important price point, while they’re stood right in front of you!

Outstanding in our product knowledge – not just a “feature creature” but abounding with the benefits that perfectly match the customer’s needs and priorities.

Outstanding in our reassurance of product and company guarantee, and unique service levels – which again put you ahead of the competition, because they forgot to mention their white-glove service.

Outstanding in our ability to communicate – that is, to listen as much as we speak, and to ask really good questions of the customer, and then who we’re intrigued through our body language (just like Columbo!).

Outstanding in our ability to be able to make the customer feel special and important, even though they are only buying a sofabed (today a sofabed – tomorrow the whole house!).

Outstanding in our ability to be able to help the customer think clearly and feel good – after all, it’s various points of uncertainty that prevent the customer from buying.

And finally, outstanding in our ability to convince the customer that the product is right, the service is right, and that you are the right person to order with, as you always have their best interests at heart.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

It isn’t. Remember that it’s the quality of contact with each individual customer or family – not the quantity of approaches – that makes you stand out like a shining beacon in a sea of mediocrity.

Have fun (with intent), chase one rabbit, and remember – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Adam trains people to sell and manage more effectively, using techniques learned from his own experiences and working with some of the best salespeople and managers in the furniture industry. Whether a business needs help auditing and improving its product range, overhauling the presentation and promotion of its products, recruiting bright and knowledgable staff, implementing new finance solutions, or designing and utilising retail software programmes (SaaS) to help it track KPIs, Furniture Sales Solutions has the answer.

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