Tomorrow’s Showrooms, Yesterday’s Sales Process
The band-aid has been ripped off, exposing the injury being caused by rapid change, and the wound is not healing as we expected, and there will be a scar.
Life began changing for showrooms at the beginning of March 2020. We did not know that we would be immediately ushering in rapid changes to the way we do business. We expected to slowly see the adoption of these changes over ten years.
This article’s tone is no longer about ringing the warning bell; that time has long passed; we are now working on damage control. What was a 10-year time frame to build new processes around AI and the required digital platform services have evaporated into 2-3 years.
If you thought there was still enough time to wait to make changes and implement new strategies, you are mistaken. Stop avoiding the outcome. There are sector disruptors about to be unleashed due to the virus’s economic response, which will impact your showroom’s viability.
To continue to play an important and relevant role in your channel, the action is required now!
To put this article in the proper perspective, there will be a need for showrooms and the professionals that staff them, just not as many. This change will be very different from those showrooms have experienced before, and there is no return to what once was or as many call it “normal.”
Change has disrupted how every merchant goes to market. Change has been around since the dawn of time, and successful stores don’t go backward. If you think we will return to the way things were, maybe you would like to buy an excellent fax machine, and I hear typewriters are all the rage.
In all seriousness, there will be a thinning throughout the home sector in general, a loss of showrooms, vendors, and shrinkage of viable clients. While this is a bit of doom and gloom, the end result is that the players left standing, no matter their role in the channel will be the best in their fields.
The showrooms and staff that continue to participate after this change will be expected to know more about their products and processes; they will be expected to be more efficient, effective, and impactful with time, both theirs and the clients.
If you want to stay in the game, you must act now!
In his book, “To Sell Is Human,” Daniel Pink states that “everyone is a salesperson.” I agree and want to take this one step further. Every salesperson is also a marketer. The secret sauce for selling in this client-centric, information-rich environment is to become a top-notch digital communicator. Everyone on the team from seasoned professionals to newly added associates must become skilled in using the available digital assets. Your website and digital catalog must be reimagined as your digital showroom. Your showroom site must provide the SEO to show up in search results.
Optimize your sales and client interaction process, so your wishlist serves as the foundation to various procedures that individually and or collectively increase efficiency and profitability.
Think about all the potential clients who interact with your digital assets like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and others. What if you had a compelling call to action that each one of them would find it hard to say no to? Something like “avoid mistakes in your project now, so you don’t live with them in the future!” Many warm clients would follow that CTA to an individual landing page, but what would you offer?
But first, take the next important step. Blend that passive marketing process with an active one to assure you cover your bases. Have a member of the sales team contact your warm leads and interact with them and provide them with what they are looking for.
They don’t need to see more products yet, give them tips to prevent mistakes that they would otherwise live with, demonstrate you’re the expert. This is easily accomplished with the free digital version of the Ultimate Planning Guide explicitly designed for your showroom, it is a tool for your client, and it is an excellent gift to help them with their projects.
The only caveat to winning is that you must invest and do the work.
The clients you have enticed to visit your showroom are savvy and know that they can buy just about anything they want at any time they want, from anywhere they want. This means the concept of “earn ’em or burn ’em” has been replaced with “assist and persist.”
The digitally astute client won’t accept manipulative tactics used in the past These days, no one wants to feel pressured to do anything, least of all is to be controlled by an old sales process.
The Concierge showroom by design is helpful and not pushy; this is a crucial part of the 360-degree omnichannel strategy. The omnichannel process is no longer just about e-commerce; it is a refocus on the client’s E-convenience.
There is continuity and comfort for the client and the sales team when tablets are used on the showroom floor. There is no longer a need to break the sales presentation’s continuity to get a catalog or get timely product information when it is in their hand. The customer becomes at ease when they see and navigate the familiar look of your digital showroom.
Your website and all the platform-tools you use, such as a wishlist, shopping cart, and SPEX BUILDER, are equally important to attract, communicate to, and then keep your client in your physical and digital ecosystem.
Think of the benefit to the client, the showroom, and the sales team. The customer makes product recommendations, and the sales team aids in making final selections, all from the showroom’s curated vendors. The client is at ease because they do this from the comfort of their home, at the time they want, with the experience shared with the expert sales team.
Full service means that the client’s wishlist selections can be created into a SPEX BUILDER lookbook, a sales order, a pick ticket, packing slip, or provide the tradespeople with an installation document. The ability for increased efficiency is how showrooms will maintain and even increase margins.
Concierge Showroom | Staff Skills:
The way we engage clients requires that there be a plan, an understanding of the skills and functions needed to execute correctly.
The first characteristic of a concierge showroom is having all staff members become an effective communicator in all mediums, including digital, texting, email, chat, social media, and getting the idea. Don’t forget snail mail and face to face expressions are still relevant.
The better the team’s skills in these forms of communication will impact the quality of each client’s experience first, and secondly, it will help to sell more. The ability to build the customer’s trust in your company and its products means that you must have the client’s interests at the forefront of all communication.
In the simplest of terms, it utilizes the skill of active listening and response in the same medium the client reaches out to you.
The second distinguishing trait of a concierge showroom staff is that they each have expert knowledge within their channel.
Showrooms must invest in their salespeople by providing the time needed to become proficient in new skills and the expert the customer wants on the product categories they sell. The sales team must be well-versed in the company’s story, the market they compete in, and the tools they use.
This special breed of individuals can have their skills developed to provide the highest level of expert service and value to the customer, while efficiently increasing bottom-line margins.
These “experts” know which products can be easily substituted for others; they know which vendors and or sales reps they can count on in a pinch, which contractor is best for the client they are working with—directing the client to the products that can meet the level of expectation the client has expressed that they want.
This sales professional is a local expert when it comes to the tradespeople they recommend. By knowing the details and strengths of the tradespeople they work with, the concierge can refer the client to find the person who can best serve them and their situation.
One aspect of knowledge that must be part of each salesperson’s arsenal is knowing the showroom’s sales process inside and out and every way in between. A salesperson that doesn’t know their own processes and how to maximize that process for their client will foster client skepticism in the showroom and the team. They won’t stand out from the crowd.
Another skill that increases the team member’s expert status relates to all things digital. The professional in this area must have a command of all internal and external digital platforms used to market and sell to the client. The days of being digitally unskilled are over, those that don’t have or fail to develop these skills now will be left behind in the not so distant future. The time is short to act on adding these essential activities to salespeople’s job descriptions.
Demonstrating a high level of digital expertise combined with active listening skills or reading skills will help develop an increased trust with the client. Trust and confidence are the foundation that client relationships and sales are built upon without these two things the transfer of emotion is difficult to communicate.
The third characteristic wanted by the concierge showroom is unbridled confidence from their team. I placed confidence third for a reason. When a person expresses confidence but fails to use active listening skills or demonstrates expert knowledge, they come across to the client as having a big ego, being too “salesy” and that does not lead to success.
Introducing all-new procedures and incorporating new tools to a sales team can be met with frustration. Everyone in their daily lives is impacted by the changes brought on by what life has thrown at us. Have the group acknowledge that they are clients too, and the way they shop for everything has changed, and they will look at the sales process they use in a whole new light.
The concierge showroom has defined goals to reduce selling pressure, increase sales metrics across the board, and build long-term client relationships. The team at Bravo Business Media has the resources you need to win in the new economy.
As always Happy Selling!