Look Up. Get Up.


For showroom salespeople

Is your computer screen keeping you from seeing the customer who just walked in?

I was talking with Dennis Miller (Featured Designer 1/2013) the other day about this…he asked if it was a pervasive problem in other showrooms, and maybe even one of our own creation.  With the reduction in traffic into retail and trade showrooms, I have been encouraging, insisting and even demanding (no, not really…..well, maybe) that salespeople generate sales from marketing to their database and attracting new clients and customers.  That takes time and it takes attention.  And it needs to be done during slower showroom traffic times in order to balance outreach activities with incoming opportunities.

Here’s an old retail thought to consider – a customer in front of you always takes precedence over a customer on the phone or a sales support activity.  If you’re on the phone when someone comes in, then a smile a nod / wink and a silent ‘be right with you’ is essential to having them feel welcomed and acknowledged.  And then get up and go talk to them.  Let’s not wait for them to come up to you at your desk before a greeting occurs.

Look at your traffic logs and see when the busiest times are in your showroom so that the marketing activities you are doing then are ‘light’ activities, like writing thank you notes and making after delivery/installation follow up calls.  That way your primary focus is to be available to incoming customers.  Early and later in the day are often good times to dig deeper into marketing calls and also a better time to reach people.  Try it a few different ways to see what works for your showroom and then consciously schedule those blocks of time in your calendar.

Thanks Dennis for bringing this up.  And I welcome everyone’s input on how this plays out in your showroom.

Now, go sell something.



Now that I have your attention….there are dates that are critical to learn from designers about their end users and their projects.

  1. Delivery/installation dates: We need to know this ASAP as it supports the accuracy of our pipeline. We need to ask and get whatever answer the designer gives, knowing when we ask the designer, they may not have gotten that commitment yet from their end-user. NOT knowing is an opportunity for another contact with the designer to find out once they know.
  2. Presentation date: When is their next meeting with their client, especially if they don’t yet have a budget or installation date. “What are you and the client hoping to discover (or confirm) at this meeting?”
  3. Appointment date: EVERY contact with a designer begets the NEXT contact. Our role is to manage that contact process by asking questions and getting commitments for the next time you speak or see each other – and what they objective of that meeting will be. Designers can’t be responsible for calling us or for keeping the sale moving because they won’t do it. And thinking they will and leaving responsibility of the next connection in their court is a recipe for NO SALE. When you get tired of chasing designers, calling and not reaching them and leaving several messages, and hoping the quote you have in the system will actually happen….when the discomfort of those actions that produce NO result become more uncomfortable than asking for appointments, then and only then is when appointments will become second nature and part of OUR sales process…..as an ALWAYS, ALWAYS action.

When you empty your pipeline you must rebuild it. And every item you quote and put in the pipeline MUST have an expected order date for the process to shift to ‘moving forward’ actions from ‘chasing designer’ actions.

Get on the phone and call when you think you will reach them and find out what you don’t already know….and while you have them, ask if there is an order they want to place now.


Coaching By Example

Selling Managers have a great job – they sell to clients (which is fun) and they coach their players (which is lots of fun). They play on the field with their team, they take and create new opportunities with clients and customers and execute the sales process that they also manage. Some selling managers complain about being overwhelmed and not being able to juggle both roles effectively, while others (the really smart, highly trained ones) have figured out how to do both – how to sell and manage their team by showing them how it’s done.

If you are a selling manager you have several opportunities during the day to demonstrate the skill you want your team to execute. Whether you’re working in the showroom with a client, are on the phone prospecting or following up, or in a purchasing presentation, you can pull any of your sales team members over and identify the particular aspect of the sale that they struggle with and would like to improve, and have them watch and listen to how you do it. Even if you were unsuccessful at producing your desired outcome, you have demonstrated several behaviors that are excellent sources of learning. By teaching by example you can juggle both roles and be highly efficient with your time. It also ups the ante on your selling skills to be performing at the top of your game when you have to demonstrate with a real, live client in front of one of your players – something that lesser sales and selling managers avoid, preferring to talk about selling skills rather than showing them.

To keep it simple, here’s a checklist to help you put this in place in your showroom:

  1. Identify the skills needed for each team member (connecting, qualifying, etc.)
  2. Each day, select one of your team members and have them watch that part of the sales process. Tell them the specifics you want them to be watching and listening for (BADASS in qualifying, for instance).
  3. Meet with them after your client has left and spend about 15 minutes discussing what you did and have THEM try it now that they’ve seen you.

You can succeed and balance selling and managing, and it will take maximizing your time with efficiencies like this to do it.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”
-Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965)
German medical missionary, Nobel Peace Prize winner