Hopefully you've absorbed Part One of “Keys to Selling Success” (January 2006 SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES, page 168). If you've followed my articles in the past, then you know there are several topics pertaining to showrooms that I'm passionate about. Teaching and learning selling skills is one of them. Learning how to produce gross profit margins of 35% and more is another. A couple of others are: having a showroom business plan, showing and selling a diversity of product; treating the showroom as a separate profit center; marketing the showroom to everybody (trades and homeowners); having written job descriptions; doing a performance review at least annually; and having a compensation program that rewards good sales and margin productivity. I have a whole lot more, but these would probably be the most important ones.

In this article we're going to complete the review of what I believe are the main keys to selling success.

Last month I suggested that you should try and develop a number of positive sales senses and we listed a number of them.

At the same time you should be careful not to have any of the following negative sales senses:

  • The sense of fear
  • The sense of nervousness
  • The sense of rejection
  • The sense of procrastination or reluctance
  • The sense of justification and rationale
  • The sense of self-doubt
  • The sense of uncertainty
  • The sense of doom
  • The sense of “I'm unlucky”

Another big key to selling success is understanding the client's personality. There are all kinds: happy/sad; formal/informal; strong/weak; well informed/uninformed; quick/slow; nice/not so nice, etc. Below are some hints to help you deal with the myriad of personality types.


Learn to adapt to the client's personality and his or her means of communication. Be flexible.

You will not connect with everyone. Accept it!

If you can, turn a client over to a fellow salesperson if the two of you are just not clicking.

And while we're discussing client personalities, learning to be a good salesperson requires you to learn to deal with upset clients. Here are some guidelines you might follow:

  • Hear them out.
  • Make sure you understand the situation.
  • Ask questions to clarify if necessary.
  • Either ask them what they would like you to do to make the situation go away, or tell them what you would like to do to make them feel better.
  • Reach an agreement on what will be done and when it will happen.
  • Then do it in the timeliest manner possible!

Following is a list of more keys to sales success:

  • Have an open mind and be willing to learn new things.
  • Be a great listener. Use the Darlington rule of thumb: 2 ears and 1 mouth = 2/3 listening and 1/3 talking.
  • Forget what you want or will get from the sale and focus totally on what the client wants.
  • Build rapport and trust from the very first meeting and greeting. Continue doing this throughout the entire selling process.
  • Be honest - all the time.
  • Continually plant seeds and water them.
  • Always do what you say you're going to do.
  • Be well organized.
  • Be a great time manager.
  • Use good judgment and common sense.
  • Let your enthusiasm show. Enthusiasm is contagious - when you have it and when you don't!
  • Be well-rounded and well informed.
  • Be positive and upbeat - all the time!
  • Refer to Darlington's Seven Step Selling Cycle (“How To Sell In A Showroom,” SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES March 2000, page 82) and manage the sale one step at a time.


Just as there are keys to selling success, there are a number of sales errors that you need to avoid. Here are some that you should be aware of:
  • Talking too much. You can't learn anything when your mouth is open.
  • Moving too fast for the client. You work in the showroom everyday. You know all about your products and services. Part of adapting to your client's personality and needs is learning how much or how little detail you have to share. Go slow enough so your client can absorb all that you're trying to relate.
  • A lack of enthusiasm.
  • Failure to focus on your client's needs.
  • Failure to have a plan on how you're going to work with each client. Their needs, wants and projects vary dramatically.
  • Becoming complacent and/or falling into a slump.
  • Not being able to address your client's objections or concerns.
  • Inability to articulate value - of yourself, your company and your products and services. (Number 5 in Darlington's Seven Step Selling Cycle).
  • Overselling. When you keep on selling after the client is sold, you risk losing the sale. Learn to know when the client is sold. Stop - and write the order.
  • Mistaking “busy” for “productive.” There's a big difference in the two. You just worked full-out for eight hours - but how productive were you?
  • Not doing a good job qualifying the client. This is huge - if you don't know what this means and how important it is, make it a point to find out! (Number 3 in Darlington's Seven Step Selling Cycle).
  • Poor follow-up and follow-through.
  • Using words that kill sales. Stay away from talking politics, religion, sex - and never/ever any profanity.
  • Not paying attention to detail. Remember the cliché “little things mean a lot.” It's extra true in selling!
  • Failure to build rapport and trust. If you can't or don't, the odds are very high that you won't get the sale.
  • Falling into a slump. We all do it at one time or another. The trick is to not fall too deep or for too long a time.


There are a number of causes of slumps and a number of things you can do to cure them. Here are the prime causes of slumps:
  • A poor belief system - in yourself, your company and your products.
  • Poor work habits in terms of organization, time management, etc.
  • Misinterpretations that lead to misunderstandings and sour grapes.
  • Outside pressures. Separating work and home can be difficult at times.
  • Poor personal habits.
  • Your boss gives you grief rather than support.
  • Your perception that everything is going against you.
  • You lose several big jobs or clients in a short period of time.
  • You flat-out get depressed!

Here is how to cure a slump:

a. Go back to the basics.

b. List five things you might do to help you work harder and smarter.

c. Change your presentation. Freshen it up - for you and your clients.

d. Ask for help from your boss, co-workers, good clients you trust, family, friends.

e. Get to work earlier than everyone else so you have some quiet time to get organized for the day.

f. Avoid other “slumpers.” Like enthusiasm, this is contagious.

g. Associate with positive, successful people.

h. Be sure you have balance in your life. Have fun!

i. Spend 15 minutes a day at self-improvement (books, tapes, etc.).

j. Avoid negative talk and negative people.

Gee, I didn't mean to get so carried away with the slump issue - but I know it exists and if this helps just one of you dig out of a slump, then it will have been worth it!

Good salespeople may be the number one asset of most companies. The more productive and happy salespeople are, the more profitable the business and your sales will be. Good selling!