Knowledge is Power

February/March 2018—

Prepare yourself with the knowledge to handle customers’ questions.

Pro-active customers may ask lots of questions before buying furniture. Salespeople who don’t have the answers lose sales.

Be prepared. Know what each piece of furniture is, who manufactured it and what it does or how it works. Know at least five features and benefits for every piece of furniture in your store. And, while you don’t have to memorize all this information, you should at least know where to find it quickly.

Even more important than knowing your merchandise is knowing the best way to present it. Overloading the customer with information is a turn off.

What if you were to say to a customer, “Welcome to the store, as you can see, there’s a lot to look at. Our special of the day is that you may select one piece of furniture absolutely free, with two conditions: First, you must put it in your home and second, you cannot sell it or give it away. Now go ahead and pick it out.”

How long would it take for the customer to choose their furniture? I’ve heard estimates from ten seconds to all day. If it could take that long to pick something out for FREE, how long do you imagine it takes when they have to pay for it?

You no doubt have hundreds, if not thousands of options for your customer to consider; and during the course of finding the right piece, they’ll look at many that aren’t the right piece and know it with a glance.

Imagine a customer is looking at a sofa with a wild print; she thinks to her herself, “What kind of idiot would ever put something like that in her living room?” The salesperson sees her eyeballing the sofa, comes over and says, “I bet you would like to have this sofa in your house. It’s on sale today for 20 percent off and I can toss in a couple of matching throw pillows. You will get a lot of compliments. It’s well built and will last you forever. It’s in stock, and we can deliver it today.”

Because she is a nice person, the shopper listens to this barrage of information thinking: “No, I wouldn’t have that ugly thing in my house. If I’m not going to buy the sofa, why would I want a couple of matching throw pillows? I’m not going to buy the sofa, and don’t care how long it would have lasted me if I bought it.”

This happens in furniture stores as well as other high-end retail stores across the country every day.

Specific information should be given in bite-size pieces. Give customers one piece of information; then shut up and allow them to react. Offering your customers pro-active, no-pressure information works wonders. The key to its success is sensitivity; speak up, shut up, observe and mirror.

When you say, “That chair is solid mahogany,” your customer isn’t likely to respond, “No, it isn’t.” The customer may say, “Oh, I see.” You move towards the sale.

Chess players know the value of anticipating their opponent’s next move. When you anticipate, you can plan. Plan your next move. Know exactly what you will do when your customer makes any one of the five customer moves:

1. Buys It: When you shut up and your customer says, “I’ll take it,” the pressure comes off. Your counter-move is: ring up the sale and offer add-ons. Suggest other items in the store that will accentuate or complement what is being purchased. The words “I’ll take it” should start the sale, not end the sale.

2. Walks Away from It: If your customer walks away after you say, “That table comes with four chairs,” what else should you say? Nothing! Silence will move your customers away from furniture they are not going to buy and toward something they may buy.

Allow your customers to escape you when they want to. When you offer a piece of information and they walk away, remain silent, and step back. Don’t follow. You shoud know by now that customers that are chased, run!

Disengage, stand back, but remain mentally connected. This takes the pressure off and allows your customers to stop and look at other items. When they do, re-engage and start the information process over again. Speak up, shut up, observe and mirror.

3. Asks a Question About It: Your silence gives your customer the opportunity to ask a question. Many customers have questions they haven’t asked. When you’re asked a question, answer it, then shut up, observe and mirror. It’s up to your customer to make the next move.

4. Silently Continues Looking at It: When you shut up, and your customer continues looking at the piece, you’re moving towards the sale. The silent pressure is on. Your customer wonders: “Should I?” You wonder, “Will I make this sale?” The silent pressure is intensified. Nobody is talking. Decisions are being made.

Remain quiet and continue looking at the piece. Wait approximately five seconds before speaking again. If your customer continues to look at the piece for five seconds after you shut up, then provide the next piece of information, shut up, observe and mirror.

Say: “That sofa has a solid wood frame.” Wait five seconds. “It is available with or without the foot stool.” Wait five seconds. “It comes with a machine washable cover.” Wait five seconds. “There’s also a matching side table.” Wait five seconds. “It features a five-year guarantee.” Wait five seconds.

If at any time your customer walks away, step back, shut up and remain quiet. If your customer asks a question, answer it and then shut up. Wait five more seconds and then offer the next piece of information.

The last piece of information offered should be the price. Say, “And it’s only $2,860.” Always emphasize only when giving a price. Now remain quiet for as long as it takes for your customer to make the next move. The silent pressure is on. Keep it on until your customer removes it.

Your customer has gained sufficient information to make an intelligent buying decision. It’s time to make it. Yes or no. The silence will cause your customer to buy it, walk away from it, ask another question or make the fifth customer move.

5. Makes an Excuse for Not Buying It: When your customer says, “I want to think about it,” you must be prepared. You can’t stop to think about what you should say next; you have to be prepared for excuses, and be ready to overcome them. Learning how to overcome excuses is crucial to making furniture selling easy.

Remember—being prepared is about more than having the right answers, it’s about anticipating your customer’s next move and reacting appropriately.

About the Author

Ron Martin
Ron Martin is the author of ”Furniture Store Selling Made Easy." His books can be ordered at