Countertops Magazine Archive

Simplify to Multiply Sales

Beethoven said, “Simplicity is genius,” and I believe there’s beauty in simplicity. We see it in nature. We notice it in business. We crave it in communication. When a business has simple processes that are well thought through, they thrive.

When you break the sales process down to its simplest form, it comes down to two simple decisions. What product to use? And which company to choose? So why do customers find it so challenging to make their decisions? Here’s why.

Many showrooms tend to fall in to one of three categories: Product-focused, designer-focused or customer-focused. Obviously, customer-focused showrooms appeal more to the customer. When showrooms are customer-focused, displays are laid out with them in mind.

Seeing from the Buyer’s Viewpoint

Most companies don’t see from the buyer’s perspective. They are focused on their products and what they do. When you see the world as products and processes instead of the way clients see them, you miss the mark.

What if we started with a blank whiteboard and simply asked, “What do shoppers need to see, feel, and experience in order to say ‘Yes’?” What if we designed our showrooms, our spiel and our entire sales process to perfectly deliver what buyers need?

I recently stopped in to a big box store and visited their kitchen design center. I was amazed at how they displayed their products. It was almost as if they had no understanding whatsoever of what the customer is actually going through.

They had cabinet displays without any countertops, with a plethora of wood samples above, making it impossible to visualize an actual kitchen. Nearly all their vignettes had no backsplash at all. So the display completely failed to create emotion and had zero wow factor. One display actually had no upper cabinets, just a large banner ad with so many statements and prices on it that it conveyed no message whatsoever.

When you look at the buying process from a customer’s perspective, you realize how complicated we make it for them to actually make a decision. We show them way too many products. We don’t present in a clean and simple way. The goal should be to help make it easy for our customers to buy.

My mentor, best-selling author Les Hewitt, once told me, “Life is simple; business is simple. We make it complicated.” He’s right. The simpler you make your sales process, the better results you’ll enjoy.

So what does simple look like? Simplicity is clean, uncluttered and easy to understand.

Creating Simple

The first step is deciding to create simplicity. I’ve found that simplicity never happens by accident. It comes from intention.

Quartz surfacing, for instance, is one area that is really not at all customer-centered. Product suppliers provide towers or racks of all of their colors. And many countertop companies carry numerous quartz lines. So every showroom a client visits has nearly every quartz tower available, and in doing so, looks exactly the same when it comes to quartz.

The problem is that customers don’t want to shop that way. If they’re looking for a dark color sweater, not white, they prefer to have all the darker colors together and the lighter colors together. People prefer to shop by style, not by brand. The best companies pair items that go well together in their displays to help buyers visualize.

Last week I visited 25 countertop showrooms in four days. Nearly every company showed their quartz in the exact same way. However, several of them had five or six different brands of quartz laid out by color on a design table for comparison. That’s actually how buyers want to shop. Starting to get the picture?

Simplicity in Showrooms

The old adage “form follows function” basically means that the design of anything should follow the form of what it is meant to do. A showroom’s primary function is to help make you more money. It is to make sales. How it does that is by making two things happen. These two things are the two decisions buyers need to make; selection of products and choice of a company to do the work. A showroom’s design should best facilitate that process.

Your goal should be to create a place where customers can make these decisions easier than anywhere else. You do that by simple selection processes, clear communication and powerful statements that build trust and confidence. Use images that prove you are the right company to do the job in an uncluttered, easy-to-use selection center.

Everybody’s busy and we need to facilitate making buying choices easier. This means abandoning old ways and looking for better methods in both our displays and our dialog. Consider showing less, and showing it well.

The Pathway

So how do you guide the customer along the “Pathway to Purchase”? There are psychological steps that are essential to get to your destination.

Create Positive Emotions: Creating emotion is the key to making sales. Positive emotions help, and negative emotions hurt. There are things we can do to create buying emotions in our showroom: A pleasant greeting, a smiling face or maybe a simple offer of something to drink all help to cultivate positive feelings.

There are also some less obvious, but very effective factors to consider. Lighting is a great way to provoke an emotional response. Scents - the sense of smell is the simplest way to create emotion. Our sense of smell is actually the most powerful of all our senses to trigger feelings. A small scent diffuser works wonders. Also, pleasant sounds can be helpful. The sound of water or light music will add positive emotions to the sales environment.

Listen: The best salespeople are the best listeners. Make your presentation all about the customer. It's not about you, your company or your product. Adapt your presentation to meet the specific needs of each individual customer.

Discovery: Find out what matters most to your customer and focus on those things. What are their hot buttons and emotional triggers? People buy for one or two key buying motives. You need to uncover what they are.

Differentiate: Clearly communicate why you’re different, and how that matters to them.

Rapport: Rapport is crucial to making sales. Create a habit of establishing rapport with every prospect every time.

Trust: Trust is essential. If people don't trust you, they won't buy from you.

Help Them Visualize: Keep the showroom uncluttered and simple. Nothing kills a sale faster than confusion. Make your showroom appealing and have one wow factor to impress. Wait until you have done discovery with them before moving on to product selections.

Less is More: Seeing too many products at one time often overwhelms customers. It’s harder for them to visualize. Use the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of sales come from 20 percent of the products. Show the 20 percent that sell. Keep the other samples out of sight and only bring them out when it’s appropriate. Your goal is to appeal to them without overwhelming them.

Educate: Control the customer’s expectations. Educate them on your process, time frame, products, care and maintenance and costs. Make it easy for customers to get an idea of costs before investing hours in product selection.

Speak Their Language: Use simple language that every client can understand. Keep your conversation free from an overload of industry jargon. This will just confuse them and a confused customer never buys.

Ask Great Questions: Asking great questions separates the great sales people from those who struggle. Great questions make you stand out from the rest. They cause buyers to think about what’s important. They help steer the conversation.

Eliminate Their Fears: Fear is the No 1 factor that keeps people from moving forward. If you have done your discovery well, you should know their fears or concerns. Eliminate them and you will make the sale.

Follow up: Eighty percent of all sales are made on the fifth contact. Most sales people don’t follow up for fear of rejection. Assume the sale and follow up. You are offering them something they want. You’re not harassing them. You’re serving them. They’re going to choose someone; it may as well be you.

Fill the Pipeline: Most companies experience tremendous peaks and valleys in their sales because they fail to consistently prospect for new business. This happens because we’re busy. When things finally slow down, we scramble and begin to prospect again. Dedicate time to fill your pipeline on a regular basis. You’ll have a simpler, less stressful work flow.

Have a Simple Plan: This is a critical discipline. It’s your roadmap. Without one you are likely to meander around without a destination. Or worse yet, you’ll have a destination but no idea how to get there.

Simplifying your sales plan

A sales plan can be reduced to answering these basic questions.

  • How will we consistently attract new prospects?
  • How will we greet and treat each customer that comes to our business?
  • How will we regularly keep our sales team sharp and performing at their best?
  • What will we measure to know how we’re doing and if we are on track?

Pretty simple huh?

Measuring Matters

Perhaps the simplest way to increase sales is by measuring. The old saying is “What gets measured, gets results.” It’s true. What we pay attention to prospers, and what we neglect falls apart. Measuring provides a way of making the important, important.

The key to measuring is to keep it simple and be consistent. Define the handful of critical factors to measure and carve out a regular time to measure results. This will help keep your sales people focused on what matters and in turn drive sales.

Simplicity is important because it creates clarity, and clarity gives focus and purpose. When you simplify you will multiply your sales.

About the Author
Kirk Heiner is an author, speaker and sales trainer with more than 25 years in sales. He has conducted sales and training seminars for numerous companies including Lowe’s, DuPont, the NKBA, KBIS, Stock Building Supply, the SBA and more. He can be contacted at [email protected].