For retail salespeople and sales managers…
Grab a cuppa something hot and tasty, as unlike the brevity of most of my blogs, this one will be a bit longer to read and digest.
It’s not common for us to have undergo the process of actually buying furniture in a retail setting. We think about creating (and executing???) a great retail experience for the guest and we think about our selling experience to them. So please, keep an open mind as you read my encounter as a customer.
I was in the market for 2 chairs; stylish recliners or something stationary. I preferred leather and had a small space to consider. My budget/expectation was $1500-2000 each (if needed). The motivating factor for me was to have chairs comfortable enough to watch an entire movie so I could invite people over to do that (my current set didn’t offer much comfort). I was looking for about 6 months before I purchased, but didn’t need that much time if I found what I wanted sooner.
I looked at chairs in several retail stores with whom I work. I asked for either a salesperson or a manager, told them what I wanted and what my considerations were. I was explicit with my challenges and flexible with the solutions. Out of six retail stores, only one store took the request and actually responded. Unfortunately, it was the day after I had purchased, and to her credit, the solution she offered was a good one.
I special ordered two chairs from a local retailer, Regal House, owned by someone I grew up with, and was assisted by a salesperson/designer I have known for decades. The chairs I bought are lovely and I am delighted with them. Roberta was great to work with.
At the same time I was looking for the chairs, I had a love seat recovered with fabric I provided the upholsterer. While I loved the chairs as they were, I also really like the love seat as it is now. It’s in a subtle fabric, that by itself, isn’t magnificent, but in the whole of the room, works perfectly. I have a lot of art and patterned rugs, so I wanted my upholstery to be more subtle than it might be in a room with a simpler background. It’s the entirety of the room that makes it work.
Here are my questions and thoughts:
- Had I not been as knowledgeable about product and the process, would the result or the experience have been the same?
- Had I been an actual customer and my room NOT have been sketched by the salesperson, would the solution have been as attractive and satisfied the challenges?
I think not. And, in fairness, I WAS an actual customer, just a better educated one with high expectations and a willingness to be open to different solutions than my own. It drove home the NEED to sketch the room (which I had already done) to get the whole room to work, not just to get chairs. It showed me the true importance of asking discovery questions to really get to the problem and find the solution. Finally, it showed how easily (and far too soon) salespeople give up on a BUYING customer — for whatever reason.
My takeaways: Sketch, sketch, sketch. Ask more questions about the big picture, even if the customer is looking for one item. And follow up until you get the sale. Period.
Thank you for reading.
Now, go sell something.