Proven Tactics for Increasing Furniture Sales in 2020
To become a successful furniture salesperson, one must realize that success is not measured by how much furniture is sold in a day, a week or even a year. True success is measured by how many customers you attended and with how many you shared valuable expertise such that they could purchase products that resolved the home furnishings discomforts they have in the privacy of their own homes. Sales goals are reached when customers receive the service they need and expect. To be truly successful in furniture sales, you must forget that you’ve been tasked with selling furniture and instead set your sights on helping customers develop living spaces they are happy to live in. Imagine how things would change if the titles of Furniture Salesperson or Retail Sales Associate (RSA) were changed to Home Furnishings Expert or Home Furnishings Consultant. Or how about Doctor of Home Furnishings Happiness?
To Better Understand Furniture Sales, Consider Your Last Experience As A Medical Patient:
Think about the last time you had a physical complaint. You probably found yourself searching the Internet in hopes you could quickly and easily make a self-diagnosis. You visited countless sites reading about people who suffered similar pains and discomforts. You probably read articles written by board certified doctors who gave lengthy and detailed explanations that sounded similar to your experience. At this point you may have thought that visiting the doctor had become a formality because you were confident in your diagnosis. A doctor’s visit was necessary because first, you needed validation that you had made the correct diagnosis, and second, and perhaps most importantly, you needed someone with access to the treatments you believed were necessary.
Now think about the visit you made to the doctor. It’s likely the majority of examination time was spent answering questions posed by the medical assistant, nurse and doctor. Certainly, you were poked and prodded, encouraged to give blood or other bodily fluid, and maybe even x-rayed. But the doctor probably asked a lot of questions throughout the full body examination. It’s likely you also had forms with more questions that you had to date and sign. Some of the questions were probably easier to answer than others. Some may have seemed a little “off the wall” and irrelevant or unnecessary.
Near the end of the appointment the doctor probably sat back on the stool and recounted everything that had been learned during the examination. Finally, a diagnosis and treatment plan were announced. The doctor did all of this without a hint of hesitancy. Certainly, there was some back and forth discussion, but 9 out of 10 times the doctor displayed total confidence that the prescribed treatment was correct and would help alleviate the problem. The doctor didn’t hesitate to order additional testing or prescriptions. The doctor didn’t express fear about recommending surgery or therapy. There was likely to be discussion about costs, timelines, and other important matters but the doctor didn’t act afraid to make the necessary recommendations.
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Your primary care physician wasn’t afraid to make recommendations because two critical things had occurred. First, a sufficient time investment to understand the fundamentals of their product (pharmaceuticals, therapies, surgeries, etc.) had been made during medical school as well as other activities. And second, a sufficient amount of time had been spent during the appointment to ask questions and examine your body so that your needs were truly understood.
It’s not uncommon for the doctor to crack open the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) or consult with colleagues including specialists during or after the examination. It would be impossible for any doctor to memorize every drug dosage and side effect, the procedure for every surgery, and be able to recognize or understand the nuances of every MRI. Before practicing medicine, every doctor is required to demonstrate sufficient knowledge and skills to receive a degree, internships, board certifications, and the like.
As in all professions there are doctors who seem to be less knowledgeable and skilled than others. The Internet includes many sites that allow patients to rate their doctors on everything from wait time, to cost, to “bedside manner.” It’s clear that all doctors do not deliver the same quality of care. Overall though, the furniture sales industry could learn a few things from the medical industry.
Consider The Experience Of A Typical Furniture Customer:
A typical customer walks into a typical furniture shop. It’s likely that she’s been unhappy or dissatisfied about the space in which she lives for a great deal of time. She may feel that her bedroom furniture doesn’t match her personality. She may be unhappy because her dining room furniture is worn out. Perhaps she feels her beds, rugs, tables, mattresses and/or accessories are no longer presentable or functional. Maybe she just feels a need to freshen up the living room or prepare for a change in the family by creating a new kids room. There are countless reasons for her to feel uncomfortable and hopeful for relief. This is all good news, because it means she fully intends to make a furniture sale.
Once she feels the dissatisfaction of hosting guests over outdated or dysfunctional furniture sets, she starts to think about ways to improve her condition. It’s likely that she starts by asking friends for advice. She watches television shows and searches furniture-related terms on the internet hoping to find the best products and room designs to alleviate the discomfort and make her feel better. She digs deeps for discounts, deals, that free shipping code her friend mentioned, that new credit card for first-time purchasers, etc…When she’s satisfied that she’s done enough searching and has some very clear ideas about the styles and colors of the furniture she needs, and from where she should purchase them, she ventures into the furniture store.
Her reasons for going to a furniture store are quite similar to her reasons for seeking an appointment with a medical professional. First, she’s looking for validation that the treatments or, in this case, furniture items she’s already chosen) are actually good ideas that will relieve her dissatisfaction and bring the peace she’s seeking. Second, she needs access to the products that are typically only found at a brick and mortar furniture store.
Upon arrival, she has the chance to interact with someone who has her needs and interest at heart. The RSA will ask a series of questions to try and understand the needs of the customer. The RSA may ask to see pictures of the room or may want to make a quick sketch to understand the size and current placement of the room’s furniture. The RSA will also take into account the customer’s current furniture and her likes and dislikes about it. In the hands of a good RSA, the room will be examined from top to bottom. Many questions will be asked regarding the interior design site, such as:
- the use of the room
- sun exposure
- budget- what the customer is looking to save or even receive as part of free offers
- whether it’s an indoor or outdoor setting
- whether it will be used for leisure or entertainment
- which furniture is already in the room such as bed, chairs, a mattress, tv, bedding, sofa, and accent décor all the way down to art displayed on the walls
Once the RSA is confident in his knowledge of the area in need of being furnished, it’s time to consider appropriate treatments and to make recommendations. Similar to the doctor who spent countless hours and even years studying all the treatments available in modern medicine, the RSA has spent countless hours, and even years learning about furniture product knowledge. RSA has studied woods and wood joinery, natural and synthetic fibers and upholstery options, chair and sofa styles, rug construction and quality, and much more. The RSA has studied room design, not to become an interior designer, but to help customers understand important fundamentals of designing spaces within their homes.
The RSA matches the well understood needs of the customer with the well-known features and benefits of the products that are available through the store. Both on the showroom as well as through the myriad of custom order and delivery options. Because he is confident in his ability to provide adequate décor advice, he, without hesitation, starts pointing and making recommendations. Recommendations are easily made as the RSA reminds the customer of the features and benefits that were shared earlier in the discussion. His confidence derives from the fact that he knows the products he’s recommending will address each and every need he’s learned from the customer. He knows the products will eliminate her discomfort and help her feel the peace and harmony she wants to experience in her home.
That evening the RSA reviews his sales numbers and realizes that his goals for the day have all been achieved and his commission check will meet all of his expectations. Careers in sales are proven to last longer in situations where quotas are continually met. In this situation, no matter how high the bar is set, everybody wins.
Epilogue: What Selling Furniture is all About in the 2020 Marketplace
When all is said and done, selling furniture is not just about selling furniture. It’s about helping customers find and purchase the home furnishings products that will actually solve each customer’s needs and wants. People who sell furniture might do well to drop the title of Furniture Salesperson and think of themselves as Home Furnishings Experts or Home Furnishings Consultants, or Doctors of Home Furnishings Happiness.
The sooner the furniture sales industry comes to understand and act upon this mindset, the sooner the entire industry will experience a revival. Customers will buy more furniture and decor. They’ll tell their friends about their experience and they will become more loyal to a particular store. Salespeople will take better care of their customers and will thus have larger paychecks. They’ll be less likely to wander through the workforce looking for opportunities to work. Dealers will have happier, more loyal customers and they’ll have a more stable workforce that remains loyal, productive and happy.
The key to this kind of success is not just in the products, but in the training given to the salespeople, the very employees we trust to close the sales and open the doors for new business. Dont ever underestimate the gift of a good salesperson. What they have to offer is an unparalleled gift. In fact, the only thing standing between your store and higher sales is a higher quality of sales training, a Ph.D. of sorts for sales personnel.
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