Furniture Today Staff -- Casual Living, April 1, 2009
Selling is statistics. Always has been, always will be.
Solid fundamental sales and marketing techniques that worked in the past still work today only if those techniques are updated and applied for the changing and, oh so different world in which we live today. We’re all familiar with one definition of insanity that says it is to keep doing what we’ve been doing and expect to achieve different results.
The pure and simple math formula is the more “ups,” the more sales. For the sales representative calling on you, it’s the more calls made, the more sales. It’s interesting to note that today the close ratio for the manufacturer’s representative has become a nightmare.
A few years ago, a good sales representative would close approximately six to eight out of 15 calls. Today, they need to make somewhere around 75 presentations to close the same number of sales. While their “one on one” skills haven’t diminished; their percentages have, simply because it’s more difficult to find dealers like you who are maintaining their inventory levels and keeping the fashion in their fashion business.
On the wholesale level, close ratios have diminished while at the retail level, close ratios have improved. How are your sales people doing?
I promise you the majority of traffic in your store is not there just to look around. Rather they are in your store because they are on a mission, they’re looking for something and they’ve probably researched it to the hilt online either at your Web site, the manufacturer’s or your competitor’s. Now they want to buy it, provided they can get a good deal, a real value. And they want to buy it from you, or they wouldn’t be there in the first place.
If you are a not closing a higher percentage of the customers in your stores, you need to ask yourself some tough questions beginning with: Why are you not capitalizing on a more dedicated customer in your store? What are you doing to bring traffic into your store? Has your advertising shifted to online and less print? How is your online presence today? When was your Web site last updated? What kind of e-smarts do you have? Are you sending e-newsletters to your customers who have purchased from you before, as well as shoppers in your store? How fast is your e-mail customer database growing? Have you selected your local hub Web portals where your banner ads should be placed? And most importantly, how does your store look?
Have you allowed your inventories to dwindle because you don’t want to invest in an uncertain economy? Your customer sees that right away and you’ve virtually eliminated any chance of selling her anything. I don’t take it for granted, however I know that you must keep the fashion in your fashion business by bringing in current and new merchandise. There are many great values out there from each of your vendors so if you are financially able, you need to take advantage of them.
It takes a war chest, I’ll grant you that. Any dollar invested today has to be a dollar that can bring you a sale or a new customer. The customer in your store could be carrying your discount coupon that she printed online at your site and could apply it to her purchase today.
Each day, examine what you are doing. If you find it remarkably similar to what you did two or three years ago … STOP. Apply those fundamentals in the way the world works today in 2009. Anything short of that is just insanity.