Eliminating sales barriers is a bit easier when you’re selling financial services and can justify the ROI. Home furnishings and home décor, however, are very different, not so nimble, beasts. That’s because when someone stands in your showroom, you’re asking for access to their most beloved spaces – their homes.
Remove All Barriers
When you think about removing barriers in your brick-and-mortar store, it’s important to not only consider physical barriers, but psychological barriers as well.
That said, don’t let anything come between you and your guest physically. That includes desks, counters and pieces of furniture. Take care to step out from behind blocks, greet people entering the store and invite them into your space.
Of course, keep a keen eye on not-so-obvious blocks. Are there areas of your store that people just won’t enter? Do they stop at a certain point, look, turn and walk away? Assess the furniture arrangement, flooring, lighting and other elemental cues that could trigger the turn-around. It could be something as innocuous as a change of flooring from one area to another. Whatever it is, play with corrections until you have an effortless store flow.
Become a Storyteller
The human brain is biologically wired for story. We evolved by swapping survival tales and lessons around ancestral fires. So, it’s only natural that using story as a competitive tool enhances someone’s will to buy.
If you notice a client taking interest in a piece, tell them where it came from or something about the technique. For example, if a client notices a Watercolor Console by John Strauss on the floor. You might share with them that all his furniture is built-to-order in his environmentally-friendly workshop in Northeastern Ohio.
When you tell the story of a piece or a designer, you create an emotional connection for the customer that didn’t exist before. Now, the piece can never go back “just a console.” With your story, it’s environmentally friendly, it’s from Ohio and it’s something that supports a real person, not just another dot com.
Set the Stage
As you’re talking about the piece, ask your client where they intend to use it in their home or office. Get them to “see” what it looks like in their home and have them imagine using it in their intended fashion. For example, if someone wants to use a sofa table in their foyer, don’t correct their placement – have them picture it in the space. Bonus points if you put a bowl on the table and have them pretend to come home and toss their keys in. This type of interaction puts the piece in their home through their mind’s eye. And, once it’s there . . . it’s hard to get it out again.
If you’re met with resistance, gently brush away the objections and ask questions like, “What would be a better fit?” Or, “Can you tell me what you imagine in that space instead?” This type of dialogue opens the floor for suggestions and alternatives that you have in-store or online.
Streamline the Steps to Yes
With most purchase journeys beginning online, it’s possible that once a client is in your showroom you’re closer to a “yes” than you expect. Even so, think through the customer journey as your customer – and remove anything that blocks the buy.
If they don’t know the size they need, can you offer to measure the room for them and enter the size requirements yourself? If heft and maneuverability are issues, can you rent a delivery truck and team to offer set up for them?
When you take the time to answer for “I would, but” you’re well on your way to closing a deal as a more competitive retailer.
Sprinkle with Urgency
Sprinkle is intentional here, because a heavy dousing makes the information feels inauthentic. If the sofa/table/chair/ottoman is the last one in stock, goes off sale this Friday or will be discontinued, tell the customer. Just be sure that the information you and your sales team share is true and accurate. If you’re caught telling lies, you risk your reputation as a trustworthy retailer.
If the customer isn’t ready to buy, let them leave – but not without an invitation to engage. Ask them to follow your social media channels, where you post information about sales and new product additions. Or, ask them to subscribe to your company’s newsletter, where you offer styling tips and trend reports.
Of course, both invitations open channels for future communication and relationship building. Simply be present, share high-quality content and build trust. When the customer is ready to buy, they will happily return and reward you with a mention and/or a referral.
Becoming more competitive isn’t always about creating a sharp edge. Sometimes, it’s about creating a softness that draws consumers in and lets them bring their money to you, comfortably. When you compete in this way, you create happier customer who gladly return and recommend your home furnishings or home décor store to family and friends. Remember – sales doesn’t have to be a dirty word.