Overcoming Your Home Furnishings Digital Sales Team’s Common Obstacles

By: Allison Eckstein

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Expect to have some challenges when your home furnishings store transitions from a traditional in-store sales team, who are used to interacting face-to-face with customers, to a digital sales team. Your sales associates are able to do what they do best when a furniture customer physically enters the store, but the digital sales process looks a lot different when customers start their buying journey online.


Remove these common obstacles from your digital sales process to ensure success for your home furnishings sales team with better customer engagement, and eventually more purchases.


Structure Your Sales Team to Highlight Strengths


The first obstacle may exist within the structure of your sales team. Odds are your team members went into sales because they enjoy interacting with customers. Until the internet, that communication was almost always face-to-face.


Your best salesperson may not find interacting with shoppers online very motivating, rewarding or as satisfying. Online communication requires different skills and techniques that don’t occur in an in-person visit. Without being able to see the customer to gauge their tone and body language, your best salespeople may feel like they aren’t using their skills to the best of their ability.


Consider restructuring your team to include an associate who excels at digital communication and nurturing the customer until they are ready to make a purchase.


The website is the new floor. The salesperson reaching out will be the one creating customer engagement and a good customer experience,” says David Kain, a digital marketing and sales training consultant. “This creates a scenario that is attractive for the customer, on their terms and their time.”


Revisit Goals for the Digital Sales Team


When the customer’s journey begins online and potentially ends there, too, it’s time to revisit your home furnishing sales team’s goals. Working towards goals motivates your staff.


Create an environment that encourages feedback and incorporates data into decision-making. The more involved your team gets in setting the store’s goals, the greater the ownership and commitment to the cause. Utilize strategies and come together to achieve sales enablement, team integration and maximize CRM data.


The digital space quickly changes and requires a unique set of talents. Benchmarking each member’s skills helps determine where opportunities and challenges exist. Continually revisit not only team members’ capabilities, but also the goals of your organization to ensure alignment.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29445″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Train and Support the Use of New Technology


If you don’t know how to use something, you most likely aren’t going to use it. Especially intimidating is the onslaught of new AI technology available to home furnishings retailers designed to attract, nurture and provide valuable information to and about online customers.


Support your home furnishing sales team by providing the resources and digital sales training necessary to better understand the online landscape, various data channels and advanced technologies your store utilizes to accommodate today’s digital consumers. Share and explain the company’s digital marketing strategy, tactics, metrics, goals and successes with your sales and marketing departments to educate everyone on how the customer may engage with your brand.


People gravitate towards the things they’re most comfortable doing. Select a vendor partner who will work with you beyond the initial sale to train your staff, adjust your approach as you move beyond implementation, and continue to bring you new and better ways to do business online.


For consistency, be sure to regularly revisit your processes, test the functionality of the technology, and touch base with the digital sales team. Help your home furnishings associates feel more comfortable with the technology and gain a better understanding of how to use the data in your CRM.


Respond to Online Customers with a Sense of Urgency


Out of sight, out of mind. There’s a reason this saying exists. If your home furnishings sales team is used to working with a customer physically in front of them — someone with a name, face, and voice — a switch to engaging with an online customer may present obstacles. Compounding the challenge is the 24/7 ecommerce world.


Responding to every customer who interacts with your brand at all hours of the day, seven days a week, can easily overwhelm your sales team. Utilizing AI-powered automation on your website and during lead follow-up helps manage this communication overload. Marketing automation, text-to-chat features, emails and online assessments, help to take some of the work off of your sales team’s plate — and gives online shoppers the immediate response they’ve come to expect.


Following the customer’s information-seeking journey and organizing the consumer profiles in a CRM gives the in-store sales professional an idea of when and how to respond. The more the customer engages online, the more they’ve narrowed down their search or sought information, the more qualified and closer to purchase. Assign your digital sales team to work those hot leads first, while automation nurtures the others in the meantime.


Changing Your Team’s Incentive


Whether you pay hourly or by commission, incentives for your teams don’t always have to be monetary. Investing in your home furnishings sales team’s training and understanding of the latest technology and the data available adds value. Employees appreciate an organization that puts time and effort into helping them grow professionally and sets them up to succeed.


Technology will continue to impact the online customer journey, and therefore impact your sales team’s success. Overcoming obstacles through training, revising processes, restructuring, and welcoming feedback provides your home furnishings sales team an environment where their successes translate to customer success.


Not only does incorporating technology and training into your home furnishings business help your sales team perform better, but it also keeps them engaged, as does continually seeking feedback and providing opportunities for your home furnishings sales team to suggest better ways to do business. Creating a workplace where employees can affect change rewards not only your team members and customers, but also your business’ bottom line.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Additional Home Furnishings Resources