Do you remember the “good old days” when droves of customers came into your store to see if there was something new they should think about getting for their home. They seemed to enjoy listening to you talk about new products and fabric options while you walked them through the showroom. They even had time to listen to your spiels about prices, delivery and credit options.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that customers have changed a lot over the past few years. Not only are there far fewer of them, but they rarely have time to listen to your ramblings. Thanks to the Internet, they’ve spent countless hours browsing Wayfair, Amazon, and even your own site. They’ve made dozens of comparisons, and they’ve written pages of notes. The research phase is over and they decide to visit just a couple of stores in their search for a professional who will validate their ideas and help them buy the furniture they need. They’ve chosen your store and now it’s up to you.
So the hopeful customer leaves the comfort of her home, travels across town and walks into your store. She gets assigned to you. Little does she know that you’ve not really been instructed on how to guide her through any kind of a sales process. She doesn’t know that you’ve never been taught much about furniture or design principles. And she certainly doesn’t know that the “up” system; the program that encourages you to quickly decide if you want to spend time with her or be assigned to another customer who seems more committed and has deeper pockets.
After a brief interaction she leaves the store. She’s disappointed, frustrated, and anxious to find someone who can actually help her. Oh, and she’s planning to write a review about you and your store.
It’s not really your fault. The furniture industry has bought into the idea that money spent on training you, the sales person, is a waste. Many store owners worry that they’ll invest in their salespeople and then they’ll watch them leave in a few months. They don’t recognize that retaining an unprepared salesperson is the real waste of money. They haven’t caught on to the fact that turning on the lights, purchasing inventory, and buying ads is a waste if they aren’t going to help customers accomplish their goal of buying furniture from their store.
You can tell yourself that as the salesperson you don’t need to worry. You can convince yourself that you can’t be expected to have a higher closing rate. After all, you’re a veteran salesperson who’s graduated from the school of hard knocks. You’ve been trained by a boat load of manufacturing reps and you know a lot about furniture. You can believe that your store is special because its a 4th generation family business, your selection of furniture is special, your credit plans are great, you’ve got kiosks, and you have the lowest prices. The truth is, every sales person and store owner says these same things everyday.
U.S. consumers will buy about $50 billion worth of furniture over the Internet in 2018. Just 10 years ago they spent about $5 billion. Also know that there are about 20% fewer furniture stores today than there were just 10 years ago. More and more customers are going to eliminate the frustration of a brick and mortar store by staying home to buy furniture online. They’re going to take advantage of apps that walk them through the sales process, free 2 day delivery, helpful accurate and honest information, and unlimited selections.
You need to learn about furniture and design. You need to acquire customer service and sales skills. You cannot wait.