Stop Saying “I don’t know”…it is Killing Your Sales!

A few months ago my wife and I were doing some grocery shopping. We were looking for Quinoa and couldn’t find it anywhere. Quinoa isn’t something that we had really shopped for in the past and we didn’t know much about it. We finally flagged down an employee of the store and asked if he could direct us to the Quinoa. His response was, “I don’t know where it is. I am on break and can help you in 15 minutes.”

I couldn’t believe the employee’s response! I was upset and discouraged. I told my wife that, moving forward, we would try to avoid that grocery store.

Surprisingly enough, salespeople say “I don’t know” to potential customers all the time. Quickly think about the times that people have told you “I don’t know” after you raise a legitimate question or concern. When you hear those words does your motivation to make a decision or continue the conversation increase? I don’t think so!

You can quickly and easily take the words “I don’t know” out of your vocabulary. Try using these sentences as a replacement:

Continue reading “Stop Saying “I don’t know”…it is Killing Your Sales!”


How to Make a GREAT First Impression!

Do you remember when you left an important interview dejected and disappointed?  Maybe you didn’t say the right things.  Maybe you spilled coffee or juice on your shirt before you arrived at the interview.  Or maybe you just weren’t firing on all cylinders.

In sales, we are constantly in an interview with our customers.  While they might not sit us down and ask us direct questions, they are quickly trying to determine our intentions and whether or not we will be able to fulfill those intentions.  In other words, in a few seconds, they are trying to learn whether we are there to help or there to make a sale.

Continue reading “How to Make a GREAT First Impression!”

Are You Selling Ice to Eskimos?

A few years ago, my wife and I took a trip to visit her Grandfather in Boise, ID.  Upon arrival, my wife and I laughed a bit seeing her grandpa try to use his new Samsung Galaxy s3 smartphone.  It was so advanced for him that he could barely make or answer a phone call.

After a few days of visiting, he lets us know that we needed to stop using his WiFi as he was being billed extra because of high WiFi usage.  I had never heard of this before and decided to call his internet and phone provider.

After a long wait, I finally got a hold of the young man who had sold Grandpa his WiFi package and Samsung Galaxy s3.  I let him know how disappointed I was in how he took advantage of my grandpa and sold him two things that he didn’t need.  First of all, grandpa did not and still does not need a smartphone.  He uses his phone simply to make phone calls to his children and to send the occasional text.  Plus, with all of the visitors and family he has at his house, the WiFi data plan that he was on was under-performing.  He needed unlimited WiFi access every month.

Unfortunately, this is a pretty common occurrence.  We are often sold things that we do not really even need or want.  As was the case with grandpa.  Too often, we hear the compliment in sales, “Wow!  They could sell ice to an Eskimo!”  But isn’t that phrase sad?  Does an Eskimo really need ice?  I don’t think so.

Sell your customers products they need, not what you want to sell.  While some sales may be smaller, you will get great referrals and plenty of repeat business.  Just think, if the phone salesman had asked grandpa just a few simple questions, he would have known that a smartphone and a limited WiFi plan were not the best options for him.  Instead of a happy customer, repeat business and great referrals,  He made a single sale and a very unhappy customer.

The Furniture Training Company provides great training on discovering customers needs to provide real solutions for their needs and problems.  You can learn more about our services and schedule a live demonstration of our training by going to

Become a Product Knowledge Expert

Have you every gone to a store in hopes of getting help with a complex purchase?  If so, you are like the other 100% of people on this planet.  How many times have you been disappointed at the lack of knowledge of a salesperson in a store?  I hate when the salesperson scans the product’s bar code and reads all of the features already listed on the website.  I am looking for more than that.  I am looking for information that I cannot find myself.

If you really want to be taken seriously, become an expert in the products you sell.  Push yourself everyday to become the best at your craft.  Becoming a product knowledge expert will help you know how to solve your customer’s problems.  And, when you solve their problems, you’ll produce repeat business and increase your sales.

Take a look at our short one-minute video to learn more about using product knowledge during a sale.

Also, take a look at the Furniture Training Company’s Product Knowledge Course available on their website by going to

5 Keys to Effective Training

Most store owner or manager knows that training is an important key to increasing sales. Training only works however if the training program is developed and implemented in ways that actually stimulate improvement. The best programs are not necessarily the most expensive.

Your training investment will generate its greatest dividend if you follow these five keys. Continue reading “5 Keys to Effective Training”

Instruction VS Information

On the first day of my PhD program I was taught the most important principle I learned in my nearly 30 years within the training, and education professions. I learned the important differences between quality Instruction and general Information. Think about the last documentary you watched. Maybe it was about World War II or the […]

On the first day of my PhD program I was taught the most important principle I learned in my nearly 30 years within the training, and education professions. I learned the important differences between quality Instruction and general Information.

Think about the last documentary you watched. Maybe it was about World War II or the building of the San Francisco Bridge. I recently watched an ESPN 30 for 30 titled The Billion Dollar Game. Throughout the program I kept thinking to myself that the next day I would tell colleagues in the office about the interesting things I had learned. I couldn’t wait to tell them how the Princeton Tigers, a heavy underdog, nearly defeated top-seeded Georgetown in the first round of the 1989 NCAA Tournament. Well, by the time I got to the office the next day, I could hardly remember that I’d watched any tv the night before. You see… I had been given information and was not instructed. I had been told and not taught. I had been entertained and not trained.

It goes without saying that dictionaries and encyclopedias aren’t instruction, but many managers and owners act as though books and magazine articles are training.

These two principles should guide your design of any training you develop for your team.

  1. Prepare all instruction so your people can do something, not so they know something.
  2. Provide plenty of practice so your people can do what they need with the customer.


Mike Petersen, PhD, co-founder of The Furniture Training Company, has over 20 years of training experience and would love to help with your company’s training issues. 866-755-5996 or


10 Sure Fire Incentives

Congratulations for recognizing that incentives are an important element of success. An analysis conducted by the International Society for Performance Improvement found that on average, long-term incentive programs yield a 44% performance increase, and employee objectives were surpassed, met, or partially met 92% of the time. In other words…incentives work!

Here are 10 sure fire incentives you can use to motivate individuals as well as entire departments.

1. Pick the Schedule (no cost) Everyone loves the chance to pick the days/shifts they’re going to work. Your folks will go crazy for the chance to arrange a week that matches their family and friend activities.

2. Lunch of their choice ($) Food is a great motivator for most people. Watch how the staff reacts when you pick up and deliver to their desk their favorite lunch. This is an easy and fun way to motivate your staff.

3. Breakfast of champions ($) Providing a winner breakfast is an fun way to give someone an extra 15 minutes to get ready for work.

4. Pizza party ($) A pizza party is great for the times when you want to incentives the entire staff. Be sure to include cheese sticks, soda, and brownies. That way you’ll satisfy everyone’s needs.

5. Discounts on product (no cost) This perk may be the easiest for a retailer to establish. Offer workers a percentage off on any product you sell. The real beauty is that you’ll ensure your staff are using the products they sell. Design this one right and you’ll get your manufacturer to help cover the costs.

6. Gift cards ($) Who doesn’t like a dinner out on the boss? Unlike cash that typically gets used to cover bills and buy food, a gift card provides pleasure every time.

7. Preferred Parking (no cost) The gift for someone who has everything. Some people will really respond to the idea of having their own parking space for a day, week or even a month.

8. Event tickets ($$)  How about treating someone to dinner and an upcoming concert or sporting event with someone?

9. Tablet or other new technology ($$) Watch your staff scramble as they do whatever’s necessary to win the new iPad, TV, or other fun gift you prepare.

10. Press Release (no cost) Consider how your staff will feel when they see their name in the paper. Imagine how your customers will feel learning about the skills and talents of your salesperson. The press release incentive is definitely a win win.

You can download a PDF version of our 10 Sure Fire Incentives by clicking here