Strategic Sales Plans for Furniture Retailers. The Foundation of It All.

If there is one common weakness I've seen in working with hundreds of retail furniture companies it's the lack of a clearly written customer engagement strategy that forms the basis for all customer interactions, starting with "Hello, welcome....." and proceeding through the engagement until the customer makes a purchase and/or leaves. 

In sports terminology, this is a "Game Plan" - it's a "How we play the game here" kind of statement, and it should form the foundation for all sales training, management training, and coaching on the selling floor. Note that I separate "training" from "coaching" because sales training isn't only about the quality of the training material, or the way that it's delivered to people, and it isn't about the other side of training or teaching - learning. It' really all, and only, about execution in the end. That's turning the ideas, concepts, and systems learned into actions by the trainee. This is why, to me, coaching is the primary role of sales managers.

We coach to the plan - the strategy. In my earliest position as a sales manager for Ethan Allen in New England our strategy was clear - get into the home, because that's where the problem was. Even when the solutions were clear as to which things to offer to a customer, the "problem", for her, was in her home - her room. So, remember this: To your customer, the purpose of being in your store is not about the furniture first. It's about the ROOM first, then it's about the furniture. A lot has changed by now about how people shop for furniture - and buy it - but not that. In the end, it has to work in her room, and all of us have heard many times, something like: "Oh I like it. I just don't know if it will work in my room."

In my game plan - even today - there will always be a time to say "Tell me about your room. What are you hoping to accomplish there?"

More on this next time. Think about it, please.