Good salespeople welcome customers who walk into the showroom looking for a great deal on furniture, appliances or mattresses. It’s go time. They skillfully interact with a prospect to identify the best way to help, working toward closing the sale. Ignoring the customer isn’t an option and not likely to happen. Can you say the same thing about the customers who start their shopping journey online in your digital showroom? Is your digital sales team held accountable for interacting with your online visitors?
Understandably, most salespeople enjoy face-to-face interaction and the challenge of understanding a customer. Body language, facial expressions, and a consumer’s reactions to different options all inform an astute salesperson, who then adjusts accordingly. Your sales team may show reluctance when tasked with cultivating prospects they can’t see or sometimes even hear.
Although 96% of Americans regularly shop online, engaging prospects and providing answers are still the main sales objectives, they may just happen a little differently now. Customers’ online behavior provides as much or more information than an in-person visit to the showroom or your office. Each prospect leaves behind valuable data when visiting your website that can give your team insight into how to approach future engagements and communications.
Boost your sales team’s confidence by providing digital training, innovative technology and detailed data analytics. Use those same tactics to hold your sales associates accountable and foster a team mentality. They need to know why online leads matter and how you measure digital success.
“A digital lead may not be treated like a priority based on a salesperson’s previous experiences. There’s a mindset that they might not be as valid as an in-store opportunity,” says Kelly Olsen, Digital Sales Success Manager with PERQ, a marketing cloud and software solutions company. “It comes down to a mindset shift. Having a good technology partner means you can eliminate the question of whether a digital lead is qualified or not.”
Changing your sales team’s mentality begins with emphasizing the importance of digital leads, Olsen says. They deserve the same care and attention as an in-store lead.
“All opportunities, digital or not, are meaningful,” she says. “It takes having a process, having the right teammates in the right roles, and setting up accountability and coaching to make sure all digital sales team members know how and why to follow-up with the digital audience.”
Digital Sales Team Accountability Starts with Training
While the right technology eases and informs the process for both customers and the sales team, it’s important to remember people are still at the center of the sale. The American Society of Training and Development reports that people are 65 percent likely to meet a goal after committing to another person. With an accountability partner to regularly check in on their progress, chances of success increase to 95 percent.
Hold your teams accountable for lead follow-up results, while also encouraging and coaching them through the digital sales process. That partnership mentality drives better engagement across the board.
“In our business, no one leaves the floor without speaking to the manager,” says David Kain, a digital marketing and sales training consultant. “Same holds true for other forms of communication, especially the phone. No one hangs up until the manager says goodbye.”
Kain works primarily in the automotive dealership industry, which has successfully utilized CRM platforms for several years. He says a manager or even a teammate asking simple questions can completely shift the dynamic.
He suggests training your sales force to ask potential customers if there’s anything they can do to get them to come in or change their mind. Customers often leave the conversation without voicing their main objection or hurdle.
Digital Sales Staff Follow-up Closes Deals
Adding someone else to the conversation may help take some pressure off the customer and the salesperson. “There’s nothing more demoralizing to a salesperson than a customer saying, ‘Thanks, I’ll consider it,’” says Kain.
Lesa Sloan, Sales Manager at Patrick Furniture and Mattress in Missouri, seizes those opportunities and encourages the sales team to close deals with some creativity and persistence.
“I questioned a retail sales associate about follow-up with a customer who inquired about our most popular bedroom groups. We knew the customer was comparison shopping with two of our competitors,” says Sloan. “The associate supplied a quote and the customer said, ‘Thanks, I’ll get back to you.’”
Sloan pushed the employee to follow up, which resulted in a $5,400 sale. “I coached him through the follow-up to the transaction,” she says. “We did a little creative financing, dropped our delivery fee, and increased her discount a bit to beat our competition.”
Kain suggests salespeople also get creative when building connections with customers who aren’t quite ready to buy. Tap into technology to reach out in a memorable and helpful way. “Send a video meeting link and share your screen,” says Kain. “Go through options and payment information. Customers won’t be offended by that.”
Kain adds that, to a large degree, most customers prefer self-service and are likely already deep into the buying process by the time they reach a salesperson. He encourages digital sales team members to email or text a customer and simply say, “Hey, let’s jump on a call and I can answer your questions.”
Marketing data varies as to how many actual touches it takes to close a deal. What every digital marketing expert can agree on is this: if your team fails to follow up with online leads and isn’t held accountable, sales will be few and far between.
As Olsen puts it, “If you aren’t already capturing and following up on digital leads, you are already behind.”
This article originally appeared on Furniture World.
Additional Home Furnishings Resources
- Get answers to frequently asked questions in this furniture store digital sales training FAQ.
- When considering your digital sales process, here are 5 tips to keep in mind.
- Turn your website visitors into in-store traffic with PERQ’s marketing cloud for home furnishings stores.