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by Tom Jennings, Vice President of Professional Development at the WFCA

When training our sales staffs’ desirable behavior, we seem to place virtually all of our emphasis on the proper ways to conduct ourselves while in our showrooms. This is both understandable and necessary since this is typically where most first impressions are formed. However, it seems that the majority of managers spend very little time coaching winning behavior at the place where a great number of the sales are consummated – in the customer’s home. While some may perceive that selling in-home is much the same as in our stores, this is not the case at all.

I have found that most of the rules change when we are the guest and the customer has the “home court advantage”. Well trained salespersons realize that there needs to be focus placed on everything from initially approaching a customer’s door to making an impressive exit. A customer will respond very differently sitting at her dining room table than she will sitting at the design table in your store.

A common trait that all successful in-home sales people have is that they arrive prepared. Before they approach the customer’s door, they always make sure that they are giving themselves every opportunity to succeed. They check their grooming and freshen their breath. They are dressed respectfully and professionally. They turn off their phones to focus solely on the task at hand. They carry sufficient samples in their vehicle to make a quality presentation. They arrive with the correct tools and supplies to gather information with. They always have an ample supply of sales agreements, collateral materials, etc. They carry a pair of overshoes to slip off at a customer’s door in the event of inclement weather. They do so knowing that they cannot just go to their desks to retrieve simple items like they can do in the store.

Most importantly, they examine their attitude! Remember that your customer doesn’t care how your day has been going so far – she’s just concerned about the next few minutes. They recognize that she’s paying their wages today.  They focus on her… not the samples!

In short – they prepare to be successful. Small details – yes. Insignificant details – hardly! Pros know that any small detail that slows down the flow of the sales process will always work against them. Remember that one of the measurements that the customer is judging you by is how important that you are making her feel. Being properly prepared shows her that this appointment is important to you and conveys a feeling of respect.

It is important to remember that you are in the customer’s home to not only examine the conditions in which the flooring will be installed in, but more importantly to learn about who will be using these products. I cannot emphasize this point enough! Take time to meet the family dog. Learn more about the children and their activities. Ask about the pictures of the grandchildren hanging on the wall. How old are they now? Do you get to see them often?

While this may seem to be a waste of time to some, I feel that there can be no better use of the first few minutes in a customer’s home. Always remember that we buy with emotion first – then we justify with logic. Have you ever met a grandmother who didn’t brag just a little when showing off her pictures? Don’t we all have the most precious pet?

Remember that there is only one opinion that matters here… and it’s not yours! Only when you take the time to learn these emotional hot buttons can you sell the customer what she really wants as opposed to just what she needs. And let’s be honest, we will all pay more for things that we really want!

Virtually every installed flooring sale requires an in-home visit of some nature. To be a true sales professional – learn to be a great guest!


About the Author:

Tom Jennings is the Vice President of Professional Development at the WFCA and speaker at The International Surface Event in Las Vegas. His two sessions; Selling the Value of Quality Installation and The Customer’s Home, Your Other Showroom will be held on Tuesday, January, 17 at 9:00am – 10:30am and Thursday, January 19, at 8:00am – 9:30am respectively. For more information on registering for the show, visit to view a full list of the education programs.