It’s a marathon – not a sprint

Adam Hankinson, Managing Director at Furniture Sales Solutions, talks about how to shift gears and mindset during two key winter sale phases.

I write this article on the 8th January 2024, the Monday after the busiest first 13 days of the winter sale. How was this period for you?

In these 13 days you may have started slowly and hopefully built up the urgency within customers by using extra early bird savings and time or limited availability offers.

If you did you probably had a good weekend with customers keen to sign up to avoid missing out- there will have been a real buying frenzy on Saturday and Sunday.

Phew…. We can breathe again now ready for phase 2.

Unfortunately, Monday morning comes around very quickly and we enter the next longer period, maybe 6-8 weeks, of the remainder of the most important trading period of the year The Winter Sale. You’ve used up the initial urgency messages and customers now entering the market i.e., “just browsing for now” are more difficult to break the ice and build a relationship with and see no need to commit for a number of weeks: they ask you “when does the sale finish?” Translated this means “how long do we have to decide/delay commitment?”

You also have the mind of the salesperson, depending on how they did in the first 2 weeks, either positive if they did well or desperate if they feel they’re behind where they’d like to be. Desperation stinks and customers can smell it.

So, how do we move forward with traction into this next tougher round of the winter sale.

Over 43 winter sales I’ve learned to imagine the first two weeks as motorway, fast lane driving, and the next phase as off road driving where we’ll need to drop down several gears to “off road 4 x 4 driving”. This requires patience and grit to grind sales out, a slower pace to slow the customer down and a deeper connection with customers than the more transactional sales that were going on in the urgency period. I suggest we literally change gears in our mind.

We slow ourselves down and expect more of the customers entering the store to be in the earlier stages of their buying journey and, whilst we’re still going to do our best to sell on the day, we’re going to focus on the quality of the conversation and interaction and moving the customer towards the right products and services for them.

We now have the time to offer teas and coffees and to provide a really good unrushed 

consultation. The customer will appreciate this patient approach and you will stand out from your competitors who may be desperate or even disinterested as they believe “it’s gone quiet now.”

Over time and with experience this mindset and skillset of “switching gears” as one promotion finishes and another starts becomes more habitual, although even the most experienced sales people need reminding that “it’s a marathon – not a sprint.”

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