Countertops Magazine Archive

10 Tips, Tools & Techniques for Making Sales Now

Today’s marketplace requires better techniques in your sales abilities. Today’s buyer is savvier, less gullible and extremely busy. You don’t have time for sloppy sales practices or lack-luster sales conversations. You need to be clear, connected and compelling.

If you want to increase your sales, you need to sharpen your skills, not your pencil. You can dramatically increase your sales by using a few simple, but powerful techniques that have been proven to work in just about every sales situation.

A few years ago I had a sales challenge in one of our showrooms. My main sales person had to take a two-month medical leave. He was my top selling rep and sold more than $ 150,000 in countertops every month – triple what my other reps were selling. I needed to make sure that our showroom’s sales volume remained high, but I didn’t have a top salesperson to fill in to be able to cover the showroom in his absence.

I decided to put my best friend in that position. He was our shop manager and had never done sales before, but was personable, likeable and listened well. I put him in sales in our showroom and gave him a few of these simple techniques.

I said, “Say these things, ask this question and then shut up.” His first month he sold $66,000 worth of countertops; more than anyone else on my sales team. His second month he sold $133,000. Not bad, huh?

These techniques really work. Putting them into practice, along with a few other tips I’ve learned over the years, will help you achieve the sales results you desire. Here they are.

Tip 1 - Understand Today’s Shopper

You must understand what buyers are going through, if you want to sell to them. Today’s consumer has way too much information, a fear of making a bad decision and the added challenge of being busy. What does all that add up to when it integrates into the decision process of an industry that has never really made shopping simple?

Studies show people with too much information and too little time grab hold of simple concepts in order to make their decision, or opt to make no decision at all. Buyers will often choose one of what they feel are the three safest choices: the lowest price, the busiest company or make no decision at all.

You need to know that 91 percent of all buying decisions regarding the home are made by women. They are typically the ones running all over town with bags of chips and chunks trying to envision how their space will look when it all comes together. To say that they are challenged is putting it mildly.

Tip 2 – Become the Calm in the Storm

Today’s shopper is hurried, skeptical and a bit overwhelmed. You need to become the calm in the storm. Create a quiet respite where they can come to relax and detox from life’s tug-of-war for their attention. People love to be pampered and made to feel special. Greet them like a welcome guest and offer them something to drink. A snack can help provide energy and a quick pick-me-up when you’re out on the hunt for your dream home elements.

Of course there are some shoppers who are on a quest to get numerous quotes and plan to simply go with the lowest price. That’s not your target client. Some however, just need to be shown there are more important factors to consider when choosing countertops.

Tip 3 - Welcome to the Information Age

The challenge with living in the information age is this; with an avalanche of information, also comes a lot of misinformation. You may have three bad reviews from customers on the Web over the years. No one tells them you’ve served 1,000 who were satisfied in that same time.

So what do you do about that? Pay attention to your Internet presence and be proactive.

Review sites are one of the fastest growing segments of the Web. The penalty for a dissatisfied customer is much higher today. You need to pay attention. You must know that sometimes standing on principle can hurt you in the long run. Sometimes it is best just to give in and keep the customer contained. Chalk it up to damage control.

Finally, start a campaign to solicit online reviews from your happy customers. Give them a gift for simply saying they liked your service. Make it easy for them to do with a link.

Tip 4 - Emails that Work

Today it can be challenging to get prospects to return calls or even reply to your emails.

Not long ago, people felt morally obligated to return a call or email - not today. Today’s buyer is busy. It has become acceptable to ignore communications from people we perceive do not bring value to our lives.

How do you get someone to reply to your email? Be brief. Keep it clear. Make sure you’ve made your point.

Mark Twain once said, “I’d have written a shorter letter, if I had the time.” It actually takes more time to write a shorter letter than a long one because you have to think more. You have to take time to consider, “What do I want to say here? How do I say it best? What’s in here that could be eliminated?”

You’ve got to give them compelling reasons to connect back with you. Focus on them and the benefit of seeing you or speaking with you again. Paint a subtle fear of loss for ignoring your email. It could be a sale that ends on a specific date. It might be a product that may no longer be available for them. Scarcity sells.

Make your key benefit to a prospect obvious. Remember: It’s not about you; it’s about them. They are tuned into station WIFM: What’s in it for me? If they can’t see the benefit quickly, they’ll hit the “Delete” button in a New York second.

Use their favorite word more than once. What’s their favorite word? Here’s a hint. Everyone’s is different, yet it’s always the same. It’s their name. Don’t just use it in the beginning. Look for a place you can add their name in the body of the email. Just don’t overuse it.

Have one goal and one message in your email. This keeps your message focused and brief. Your goal may be for them to come back to meet with you. If you have more than one message, write more than one email.

Use short sentences. Ask your self three questions: How could I say this better? Is this compelling? Would I respond to this email? Break up your text into bite-size chunks. Use subheadings and bold key points to help them get your message. Some people write long run-on paragraphs for an entire email.

Lastly, tell the reader what to do next. Give them a clear benefit for contacting you.

Tip 5 - Keep on Target

Make the Focus of your communication them – not you. In your sales conversation, watch how often you use the words “I” or “we.” Try to use the word “you” frequently. Instead of thinking, “Will I make this sale?” try have the goal to help them in their decision process. What can you do to make it easier for them to see a clear choice and a right path? People love being done with a decision challenge.

 “You” is one of the most powerful words that trigger human behavior and command attention. Count the times you use “we” vs. “you” in your email. The scale must tilt toward “you,” meaning your prospect.

Tip 6 - The Likability Factor

Become an expert at building rapport: People buy from people they like. Be likable and friendly. Never disagree with a prospect outright. While I don’t believe the customer is always right, they are never wrong. There’s an old saying, ‘If you want to make an enemy, tell a man he is wrong.”

Tip 7 - Deliver on the Dream

Instead of peddling products, try selling the dream. People are either solving a problem or attempting to fulfill a desire. Tap into their vision and you can own the sale. Talk about why they are doing the project. You can bet it has something to do with bettering their quality of life. Get them to open up and share their hopes, dreams and desires, and then show how you can help them achieve these goals. Ask, “What is the main reason you want to do this?”

You should know in every sales conversation whether they are trying to eliminate a problem or fulfill a dream. You can’t serve someone if you don’t know understand their goals. I’ve gotten many jobs simply from listening.

Tip 8 - Use the Correct Tools

Ask any contractor and they will tell you that using the correct tool makes the job easier. In sales you need certain tools to do your job well. These tools can be displays, literature, samples, your website, etc. Good tools make a difference. Do your displays help the client to visualize their project? Does your literature make it clear why they should choose you?

Tip 9 - Listen Better

The balance of a sales conversation should be 1/3 to 2/3. You should be talking about 1/3 of the time. That means asking great questions and then listening carefully for what’s important to them. They will give you the keys to sell them if you listen closely. Use their exact words and phrases to describe the solution to their challenges.

People respond in one of three ways to things they hear, see or touch. You’ll hear their primary preferred style in the way they talk. They may say “Well, I can see how this…” or “That sounds good” or perhaps “Let’s touch base on this next week.” These are clues as to their preferences.

Try to discover whether or not they are audio, visual or kinesthetic. If you speak using their preferred style, you will be more in tune and sell more.

Tip 10 - Trust is the Key

I’ve long believed that trust is the key factor in countertop sales success. You must master the art of creating and building trust with new prospects. If they don't trust you, you will not win the sale.

You can build trust with social proof, such as testimonials from others who’ve trusted you. People need to feel confident in their decisions in order to move forward. Create a photo book showing happy clients with their new kitchen. Add a testimonial on the side.

Making sales today is not a simple as it was in the past. But it doesn’t need to be difficult. You simply need to sharpen your skills and add a few tips and techniques.

If you follow these Top 10 Tips in your sales efforts, you will be more successful in your career and increase your sales volume.

Hear What Today’s Buyer is Saying: 10 Things Today’s Buyer Wants You to Know

The following are several things today’s buyer wants you to know even if they don’t enunciate it:

1) I hate obvious sales tactics.
2) Find my pace and buying style.
3) Treat me like a person, and a friend. Be genuine.
4) BELIEF changes the game. I need you to believe in what you’re selling.
5) I have a steel wall shielding me from sales people.
6) It’s difficult to see differences between products and companies- Can you please help to make it clear why I should value one over the other?
7) Ask questions to find out what’s most important to me. Then talk about that.
8) Nothing sells like good rapport.
9) I’m scared. This is a very confusing process. Can you guide me through it?
10) Help me in the decision process. Show me what to consider as I make this important choice. Tell me why this company/or product are worth more.

About the Author

Kirk Heiner is an author, speaker and sales coach with more than 30 years in the kitchen, bath and construction industries. He has conducted training seminars for DuPont, Stock Building Supply, Lowes Home Improvement, the Small Business Administration and many others. He is the founder of KB Express ( and can be contacted at [email protected].