Goals not only provide purpose and a path to success, but also lead to better teamwork. Without goals, the desired destination may feel unattainable or too ambiguous. In addition to framing an approach to positive results, goals help team members understand and embrace their contributions to the company. With day-to-day responsibilities sometimes pulling focus away, how do successful organizations prioritize and focus on setting business goals?
Even though goal setting remains a popular practice in today’s business culture, 44% of workers cannot specifically name company goals and only 5.9% of businesses communicate goals daily, according to a study by ClearCompany. Keeping employees focused on business goals requires a conscious effort, from beginning to end.
“We keep our team focused through transparency, communication and purpose,” says David Weiss, Marketing Manager at Sherman’s, a home furnishings retailer with multiple locations in Illinois.
“For us, it begins with being transparent about where we are, where we’re going, and why. We provide regular updates, at least weekly if not daily, so everyone understands what’s most important right now and how we’re progressing.”
Accurately Assess Current State for Future Success
Take an honest look at where your company currently stands to take the first step toward reaching business goals. Understanding your present metrics not only provides direction, but it also helps your business formulate attainable and realistic goals for the future.
If you aren’t measuring where your business sits now and establishing benchmark metrics, how will you work toward conquering that next level — or even know when you’ve succeeded? With the right analytics and data-driven insights integrated into your efforts, from prospecting to purchasing, transparency conveys an accurate assessment of your business to help inform your team.
By adding AI-powered software connected to a cloud-based CRM, your company can collect valuable online data to generate insights not only into customers’ needs but to the overall effectiveness of your team’s efforts. Data provides a roadmap for your business to adjust and advance.
“For our property management leadership, the focus for our goal setting is marketing information and leasing data,” says Catherine Azar, Director of Property Management at Barratt Asset Management. “If we’re not mentioning our website on the phone enough, we will have a decrease in our leads. Or if our lead response time is not good enough, we report on that. We use PERQ software, so we know exactly what’s happening and break down every aspect of that whole leasing process. There are always ways we can improve.”
Communication Keeps Business Goals in the Forefront
Critical to transparency and tantamount to focus, communication keeps business goals front of mind. Employees want to know the score — are we winning or losing? Are our efforts moving the business toward the desired outcome?
“Barrett Asset Management is growing, so we have to keep our goals in the forefront,” Azar says. “We meet every single week to go over our progress, obstacles, or any kind of issue. We’re focused on our goals and where we want to go, what we want to do.”
Azar stresses the importance of creating a cadence of communication. “We never miss a meeting. They’re quick. We start on time. We end on time. We’re very respectful of each other’s time,” she says. “It’s been beyond beneficial. Constantly revisiting goals keeps them alive and fresh in our minds.”
In conjunction with regular meetings, Azar emphasizes creating an environment for honest exchange. “It’s having that safe zone to really make good goals. When you don’t make a goal or you can’t reach it, being able to say ‘that was too big. I should have made that two goals.’”
Jacob Sizemore, Marketing Director at Big Sandy Superstore, agrees that staying focused on goals requires top-of-mind awareness. “What you talk about is what’s present the most often, and that has to be consistent,” Sizemore says. “We meet weekly and dig in. We’re constantly talking about performance and topics driving business.”
Roles in Setting Business Goals Provide Purpose
Along with transparency and communication, employees crave purpose. Highly engaged employees understand the importance of their roles, how they personally contribute to goals, and ultimately their contribution to the success of the business.
“We drive employee engagement by helping them understand the big picture, and how they contribute to it individually and as a team,” Weiss says.
“Any good business has goals for the coming year and maybe goals for the quarter, things of that nature,” says Michael Norris, Chief Marketing Officer at Youtech, a digital agency that specializes in marketing multifamily property management companies but also works with clients from a variety of industries. “What becomes a problem is if individual goals don’t match up to the company-wide goals.”
“Look at specific departments and determine how they can help reach those goals. Set specific KPIs for each department to help science the overall goal,” Norris adds. “Knowing what KPI everyone should be shooting for creates a more tightly fit strategy across the board.”
At Big Sandy Superstore, an employee-owned business, the ideas of goal setting, employee purpose and engagement carry substantial weight. “Everything we do revolves around top-of-mind awareness of performance, with incentives to drive the right kind of behavior,” Sizemore says. “You’ve got to talk about it constantly, but there has to be an incentive to do it the right way, and a disincentive to do it the wrong way.”
Sizemore points out that when the business as a whole does well, tenured employees also do well. “We’re constantly keeping the perspective of ‘this is your company’ and as an employee-owner, you are tied to the long-term advantage of a profitable, stable company that’s reaching its goals.”
While not all businesses are or can be employee-owned, providing your team members with a sense of ownership in the top business goals for the organization will result in more success for everyone.
We’re ready to get back to a new normal. States, cities and local counties are taking a phased approach to opening back up and this has impacted how apartment communities will operate now and into the future. Multifamily properties are creating phased apartment reopening strategies; improving communication with their teams and residents, while making sure everyone stays safe; and deciding how they start to begin in-person apartment tours again.
As life changes from week to week (and sometimes day to day), each apartment community has had its own set of unique challenges, but they’re relying on each other for advice.
As part of our recent virtual panel, Reopening for In-Person Tours, we talked to three experts from multifamily property groups — Jamin Harkness, EVP and Partner for The Management Group, LLC; Heidi Jehlicka, Senior VP of Marketing & Employee Development of Bainbridge Companies; and Steve Ostipow, Director of Marketing at Drucker + Falk, LLC — to share how they’re approaching life after lockdown.
The panelists all agree that properties should be treated individually when planning reopening strategies, and teams need to be ready to pivot and be nimble to unique renting situations that may occur. Additionally, apartments should be ready to keep video touring or self-guided touring available since prospective renters are still looking for options to see your property on their own time and schedule.
During the discussion, 40% of property representatives who took our poll said they’re still not sure when they’d be re-opening the leasing office to the public and residents, while 25% said they already had. Rounding out to 10% each: Within the next week, within two weeks, within the next month, and more than a month.
While reopening varies widely, 80% agreed that offering multiple types of tours, whether that’s self guided physical tours, live video tours, virtual 360 tours and pre-recorded tours, will still be options for prospective residents for the inevitable future.
Consumers started the transition to online shopping long before lockdown made it a necessity. With the influx of online leads, it can be challenging to manage all of the opportunities from the website while maintaining good relationships with customers shopping on-site. Lease automation, however, simplifies the process.
In this episode of The Bridge podcast, Andy Medley and former co-host Fabian Rodriguez talk with Robert Lee, Director of Operations Programming from Hy.ly as he shares his perspective on how to reduce the burden on the sales team through the power of lead nurture and automation.
Prioritization of leads can be difficult and sales teams can’t be on the computer all day while prospects are coming in to tour. Lee explains how using data and lead scoring in automation allows properties to let the prospect “self-service” their research journey while also being able to tend to the customers who are visiting the property in-person. Both options allow the leasing teams to build the personal relationship with the lead and ultimately turn them into a lease.
Check out this episode of The Bridge podcast now if you want to learn how to personalize the renting journey by using lead nurture and lease automation.
The Bridge is available wherever you get your podcasts including, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Spotify. You can see all of the episodes, on your podcast app of choice by visiting this link.
Knowledge is power and with information more readily available via technology, your customer requires a different retail experience. Leveraging different furniture selling techniques is now more important than ever because consumers do ample research before visiting a furniture store. Good salespeople understand each customer walks into the showroom with a different amount of knowledge, and therefore a different purpose for their visit.
Today, more than ever, the salesperson and customer interaction requires relationship building, trust and the art of listening. Higher ticket items are an emotional purchase and 84% of shoppers still prefer to visit showrooms to physically see products prior to making a decision.
With information so accessible to consumers, brands and salespeople need to understand where the customer is in the decision-making process and need to better adjust their furniture selling techniques. “I think the consumer is going to expect more and more from the shopping experience,” says Jon Greenbaum, Advertising Manager at Greenbaum Home Furnishings. “Regardless of if they are shopping from home or in the store.”
The salesperson’s relationship with the customer begins well before they meet face to face. Technology provides consumers the ability to learn more about products and options, while also giving a sales team data-driven insight into the customer’s wants and needs.
Collect valuable online data and generate consumer insights with the right software and CRM. Furniture sales techniques begin by providing digital sales training so the team understands how to utilize the technology. The salesperson can use a specific shopper’s data to personalize the follow-up and nurture the lead, creating more engagement and potentially brand loyalty.
Furniture Sales Tips Include Listening and Building Trust
For Greenbaum, the relationship with customers ranks most important. Their salespeople build trust, listen and truly understand the decision-making behind the purchase. Greenbaum’s team strives to learn about the customer without interrogating.
Offering interactive website technology helps shoppers narrow their choices and also allows salespeople a deeper understanding of those consumers. Not only do sales associates learn more about customers through their actions and information entered as they engage with the technology, but it also creates a better experience online to stand out from the competition.
“I think qualifying is critical, because furniture itself is a varied category. There are so many variables within just furniture sales in general, it’s important you really ask good questions,” says Jacob Sizemore, Marketing Director at Big Sandy Superstore. “You have to understand the customer’s needs, their expectations, in order to get them the right item that’s going to meet their lifestyle and be within the budget they expect to spend.”
In addition to qualifying leads, Sizemore offers another key furniture selling technique — listening. “Treat the customer the right way,” he says. “You listen, and you take your knowledge and apply it, and that’s how you sell products well.”
Best Furniture Sales Techniques Include Following Process
In addition to the selling techniques of listening and building trust, Sizemore stresses salespeople must remain patient and focused as customers navigate the buying process.
“You’ve got to remove the fact that I’m doing this for a paycheck. That’s difficult to do in sales. It’s probably the most difficult piece, but you have to remove that fact and focus on following the process,” says Sizemore. “When you focus on the process, the result comes. So, you just figure out the right thing to do for the customer, and when you do that, it leads to better results.”
Sizemore, who began in sales at Big Sandy Superstore, emphasizes that if technology or the sales team correctly qualifies a lead, a salesperson should offer three to five pieces to the customer — at the most — suggesting a good, better, best version of the desired item.
In the selling process, explain the thinking behind the product selections. “It’s important that you tell them why you’ve selected the good, better, best options,” says Sizemore. “You’re referencing back what you learned from the customer, so they know you heard them and you’re justifying these options. It’s not a nonsensical approach. You’re giving them the reasons, and I think that really makes you a great customer service agent who happens to also sell the product.”
Understand Emotions Influencing a Furniture Purchase
“Furniture is often an emotional purchase, usually triggered by a major life event like a first-time home purchase, the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, etc. It can be exciting and overwhelming,” says David Weiss, Marketing Manager at Sherman’s. “We try to learn as much as we can about their lives and unique situations, so we can become trusted advisors. The better we do that, the greater chance we have at not only capturing the sale but developing real, life-long relationships with our guests.”
Understand not only the customers’ emotions, but the emotions the salesperson’s emitting, too. “If the customer feels comfortable and confident with what you’ve done so far, they’re far more likely to listen and buy accent pieces and additional items,” Sizemore says. “If you’re pressuring them into pieces that are not good for the customer or you’re not hearing their need, then you’re just trying to push products.”
Sizemore believes this approach to furniture sales causes customers to shut down. “In a sense, it’s better for the customer when you remove the pressure,” says Sizemore. “It’s also, long-term, better for your paycheck.
Virtual consultations and appointments; promoting virtual sales; and leveraging chat, text and social media are all ways home furnishing retailers are connecting with shoppers during COVID-19. Many have had to learn new ways to do business and create remote sales to keep their business operating.
To learn more, PERQ and Wondersign hosted a virtual happy hour with home furnishings retailers to discuss remote sales tips and and how they’re embracing the new environment. While window shoppers online may have slowed, the leads that do engage are typically ready to make a purchase, one retailer noted, and she said virtual consultations are closing at a 90 to 95% rate because those shoppers are ready to buy.
Remote Sales Tips to Help Furnishing Retailers During COVID-19
Use these remote sales tips we learned during the happy hour to help your home furnishings business during COVID-19.
Connect with your shoppers through video, whether it’s through FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype or another platform. Check with your customer to see what they’re comfortable with.
Give shoppers the opportunity to schedule a virtual consultation right on your website.
Leverage chat-to-text tools to engage with the visitor while they are on your site. Chat-to-text allows your sales team to interact quickly with real-time information
To limit interactions, offer curbside pickup, no-contact delivery, and one-on-one private consultations in-store. Don’t put your team at risk when delivering furniture or having too many customers in the store. Most customers do understand.
Let customers know if you have a policy that doesn’t allow you to currently pick up used furniture or appliances. Also, decide if you’ll pick up the item at a later date.
Be engaged and answer questions from customers on social media. It’s more legwork, but it’s how people are connecting right now.
Use Facebook Marketplace to showcase some of your inventory.
Check out Google Trends in your area and use the home furnishing trends you’re seeing in your marketing efforts. Send promotional emails, lean into digital advertising, or target your social media towards the trends.
While you shouldn’t advertise your business on Nextdoor, it’s a great way to have conversations with people in your neighborhoods. Jump in on a conversation about working from home and also talk about supporting local businesses.
Be real and authentic. People need and want that right now and it will go a long way with shoppers.
Digital and Remote Sales Resources to Help your Home Furnishing Business
When building your digital sales team, assign technology a role. From a smart CRM that can prioritize online leads to AI-powered web conversion software and automated lead nurture, give your digital sales department tools to help them succeed and drive more profit.
Online shoppers provide clues not only about what they’re looking for, but also where they are in the sales process. Utilize a platform that captures high-level data about a lead’s activity on your website and provides consumer engagement opportunities to interact with your digital team.
If you’re looking to upgrade your website software, pick an integrated platform that ties directly to a CRM and automatically prioritizes the digital leads generated. Some platforms assign color-coded indicators within the CRM tool so users can easily identify the qualified leads that require immediate follow-up by the digital sales staff.
Utilize the CRM to assign those hot leads to a specific salesperson and track their lead follow-up efforts. Be sure digital sales team members keep their CRM logs current, noting the number and types of follow-up attempts made, and whether those efforts resulted in a sale.
Personalize Responses with CRM Data and Automated Lead Nurture
To take some work off an already stressed sales staff, set the CRM system so new leads trigger automated lead nurture email cadences for timely follow-up with online leads. AI technology makes it possible to personalize those automated messages and schedule their delivery based on a lead’s data and online behavior.
Before a digital salesperson personally reaches out to prospects, first make sure they know how to access and interpret the consumer profile data in the CRM. Encourage your sales staff to cater their responses around a digital lead’s recent website activity, products of interest, relevant sales incentives, and any questions or requests for more information that the prospect submitted online.
Learn to Communicate Through Digital Channels
In addition to personalizing lead follow-up, the sales team should reach out to customers using their preferred method of communication as documented in the CRM. While your sales associates may prefer face-to-face interactions with consumers, smart technology provides valuable information to guide their outreach efforts.
With instant access to your home furnishing products listed online, consumers seek information around the clock via a variety of channels. Respond to leads using the same method they used to reach out to your store. Today that might mean learning how to best communicate through online chat, email, text messaging, or phone calls. Consider giving the digital sales team templates for each communication channel to guide conversations and highlight the slight nuances of each.
Marketing technology enables your digital sales team to do their job effectively and efficiently — in an easy-to-implement and personalized manner. It also provides all members of the team with clear actionable insights, including the ability to see appointments virtually set by online visitors and prepare accordingly.
Use Data Analytics to Track Leads, Sales and Gain Consumer Insights
Technology also allows store management to track each salesperson’s outreach efforts and win rates via historical data captured during customer and sales interactions. Analyze the average number of emails, texts or phone calls it takes to win the deal, and share those consumer insights with your team.
Celebrate their successes, learn from the losses, and then tailor the store’s digital efforts moving forward to better serve your customers and support the digital sales staff.