In this final episode of season two of The Bridge, we will take a trip down memory lane and pull the most important takeaways of each episode to help you take the next steps in your selling journey.
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This season has been nothing short of unexpected twists and turns as we figured out how to weather the pandemic. What started off as in-person recordings, quickly pivoted to Skype calls for the majority of our guests. What a blessing in disguise that was as we were able to meet and connect with so many amazing people. Thank you for sticking with us!
It was our goal this season to focus on sales and connect you with individuals who could provide insight on how to connect with shoppers online and transition the conversation and ultimately the sale, at an onsite physical location. We learned how to enhance the buying experience and with all of the world changes, pivot to a more virtual consultation and tour setting.
We hope you enjoyed listening to season two and we can’t wait to bring you more laughs, conversations, and insight in season 3. Happy podcasting!
Listen to the full recap episode here.
Listen to an Episode
Using Virtual Tours in Your Multifamily Community
Learning to Leverage Digital Sales Leads
Transforming your Team with Digital Sales Training
Personalizing the Customer Experience with a Sense of Urgency
The New Reality of Virtual Apartment Tours
Bridging the Gap Between Online Acquisition and Onsite Conversion
Success Goes Beyond Data
Learning Sales Enablement Without a Playbook
Connect with the Guests
Episode 1: Matt Weirich, Jordan Easley, Realync
Episode 2: David Kain, Kain Automotive
Episode 3: Bryan Scott, Big Sandy Superstore
Episode 4: Desiree White, Colin Cloud, NE Property Management
Episode 5: Jenna Miller: Bozzuto, Margaret Henney: Covideo, Matt Weirich: Realync
Episode 6: Robert Lee, Hy.ly
Episode 7: Ellisa Fink
Episode 8: Irina Soriano, Seismic
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
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
Remote Sales Training Resources
Digital Sales Training Lessons (5 lessons with more than 10 resources to get you started to train your teams!)
Virtual Consultation 101
Digital Leasing Guide — General Best Practices
Why Texting with Shoppers is Better than Chat
Google Analytics/PERQ CRM Data
Digital Sale Training FAQ
Big Sandy Superstore Podcast: Training your Sales Team
The Art of Digital Sales Podcast with Trainer David Kain
Additional Remote Sales Blogs and Resources
Overcoming Common Obstacles in Digital Sales
PERQ Launches Virtual Consultation Scheduler to Help During COVID-19
Best Practices to Followup with Leads
Steps to Get Your Store’s Digital Advertising in Better Shape
With Digital Sales Training, Furniture Retailer Connects Better With Online Shoppers
What is Multi-Touch Attribution?
Guide to Attribution
Lead to Sale Metric Video
Holding Your Digital Sales Team Accountable
Creating a VIP Appointment for Customers
[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]How do you leverage your website to enhance the customer experience and convert more online leads into sales? In this episode of The Bridge Podcast, Andy Medley and co-host Muhammad Yasin discuss digital sales training for home furnishings teams with Bryan Scott, President of Big Sandy Superstore, a one-stop-shop for home furnishings with 21 locations and counting.
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As president of one of the nation’s fastest-growing retailers, Scott has a unique perspective on growing a business within a shrinking industry. “The website is more important than ever, it starts that consumer’s journey,” he says. “It is our job to collect that customer information to be able to engage with that consumer online.”
Listen in as Bryan shares the secret to Big Sandy’s success and how they leverage cultural incentives and digital sales training on this episode of The Bridge.
The Bridge Season 2 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.
Resources and Links Discussed
[/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
[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