Showroom owners and managers owe it to themselves and their employees to develop a sales-training program that incorporates basic selling skills.

When learned, practiced and perfected, selling skills will reap wonderful benefits for the salesperson (higher sales, greater profitability, bigger paychecks) and the company (increased revenues and profitability).

With the proper motivation and self-improvement drive, a salesperson can learn selling skills on his or her own - even if the company doesn't or won't build in a sales-training program.

If you would dedicate just 15 to 30 minutes a day, for the rest of your selling life you will become a sales pro.

Why people buy

It's been discovered that people buy for three main reasons:

1. Facts. They want to learn all they can about the products they'll be buying, including features and benefits; quality; price, warranty; availability; technical issues, etc.

2. Emotions.

a) Fear - of spending too much; of making a mistake; of choosing the wrong product.

b) Prestige. Keeping up with the Joneses.

c) Pride. It makes them feel good.

d) Security. Knowing they bought the best product at the best price and it will last a long time.

e) Self-image. Caring about what others think.

f) The five senses: Touch, taste, sound, smell, sight.

3. Need. The old bathroom is rundown and out-of-date or the faucet just doesn't work.

Your job as a salesperson is to find out exactly what facts, emotions and needs are important to every client who walks into your "selling room."

If you know more about your products and show a wider variety of products than your competitors, you'll have a better chance of earning the customer's business. Make yourself easy to do business with. Most importantly, remember that it's the homeowners who are making the buying decisions - not the plumber, builder, architect or designer as in days gone by.

Along the same lines, do you really know your competition? Go to the competitor's place of business and look at it from every viewpoint. What's the overall look of the showroom? Are the products current, up-to-date? What products are featured? Is the showroom clean? Are products missing (sinks without faucets, drains without wastes and overflows, display boards with missing items)? Are prices and model numbers listed? What prices are shown? How were you met and greeted? How were the salespeople dressed? What was the parking situation? Was the showroom well lit? Develop a competitors' survey list. Send someone out at least once a year and then report back to your staff what was learned. Ask your competitors who they see as their main competition. If you don't hear your name mentioned, you've got work to do.

A recent market survey reveals that remodeling is where the big bucks are and will be for the foreseeable future. Almost 80% of all kitchen and bath products being purchased in the U.S. are for remodels, and this number is growing by about 1-1/2 % a year.

Attributes of a super salesperson

To be a successful showroom salesperson you must have great product knowledge, good basic selling skills, an excellent selection of products backed up with a full line of services, and a powerful sales personality. Which one of these do you think is the most important? If you said powerful sales personality, you were correct.

Virtually all successful salespeople have certain important characteristics that enable them to achieve this success. How many of these can you identify with?

  • High level of self-confidence and self-esteem.

  • Accepts full responsibility for results.

  • Above-average ambition and desire to sell.

  • High level of empathy and concern for clients.

  • Intensely goal oriented.

  • Determination and willingness to work hard.

  • Strong belief in yourself, your products and your company.

  • Absolutely honest with yourself and other people.

  • The ability to turn strangers into friends (build rapport).

  • A high level of enthusiasm (it's contagious!).

  • A positive and happy attitude.

  • A high degree of self-motivation.

  • Able to be a great listener.

  • Professional in appearance and speech.

  • Excellent follow-through.

Which one do you think is the most important? How about good listening? Real pros spend 70% of their time listening and 30% talking.

It's a proven fact that people buy for their reasons, not ours. Every buying decision is an attempt to be better off as a result of having made that decision. Every buyer has three choices: buy from you, buy from someone else, or don't buy at all. Your goal is to influence the buyer to buy from you.

Sales are usually based on the ability to establish rapport. What does that mean? Webster says: "Rapport is establishing accord, harmony and trust through shared values." It's the ability to show empathy and feel for other people. It's delivering on promises; paying attention to details; showing courtesy, consideration and thoughtfulness; being prepared; and ultimately earning respect. It means little things like wearing a sincere smile, using positive body language, talking in terms of the client's needs, learning the client's name, making the client feel important and demonstrating your knowledge. The bottom line is, if you can't relate and build rapport with your customers, you most likely won't sell anything to them.

The first time a client walks into your "selling room" he or she is thinking, "I don't know who you are; I don't know your company, your products, what services you offer, your company's reputation - Now what is it you want to sell me?" All this means is, you have to answer all of these questions before you start talking the specific project and products. You do this by selling yourself and your company first. To do this effectively you have to develop a list of reasons why the client should buy from you and your company.