Why seven is the magic number

Adam Hankinson, Managing Director at Furniture Sales Solutions, shares some tales from the shop floor and why seven is the magic number.

Seven yeses… How to help a customer buy by making multiple decisions rather than one mistake.

We know that customers, (that includes ourselves), buy emotionally and justify with logic. For example, we might justify spending more money than we’d originally planned by saying to ourselves “it’ll last much longer than a cheaper alternative.” Or, “I’ll get many years use from this laptop so at £2,000, if it lasts me 10 years, it’s only £200 per year.” Or, “I’m happy to wait for the right one rather than rush into a quick decision that I might regret.”

It is unlikely, however, that any customer will move from the just looking stage to buying stage in one step. We have to take the customer on a journey that involves ticking various boxes along the way rather than making the decision to buy or not. A customer’s biggest fear, also an emotion, is FEAR…the fear of making the wrong decision means that they make the dreaded decision of not buying at all and say to you “we’ll think about it.”

So, let’s use the example of buying new sofas. Our customer is at the early stages of consideration and is genuinely looking for only the first or second time, they’re open to options and are looking for inspiration and to see what’s out there in the market place. A tried and tested first question is “are you thinking leather or fabric this time?”

Most customers will have a preference. That’s decision one made. Our language is also very careful too… “are you thinking….” means “I understand your only thinking at this stage but what are you thinking….?” … “And what combination did you have in mind….?” … “Well ideally we’d love a corner group….” Decision two made.

“Ok great – how would you like the corner set out…longer on this side, (demonstrating), or the other or equal?” Their reply: “Longer on that side and shorter on the other will work best.” Decision three made.

Ok great – “So you like fabric, a corner and longer on that side…is that right?” – “Yes, that’s right.” A partial summary close. “And what type of back cushion do you prefer – we do the option of pillow back or standard back… which do like best?”

“Oh, right I see – I prefer the standard one – is that easier to look after?”

“Yes, it is.” Decision four made. “And what about colour….?” – “Oh, something practical for the kids… not too light but not grey!”

“Ok, what colour do you have in mind?” – “I like a petrol blue kind of look… but not in a velvet.”

“Ok, so like this bluey teal in a flat weave fabric- it’s really hard wearing” – “Yes that’s great.” That’s decision five and six made – colour AND fabric type. “Ok great, and comfort wise how does it feel to relax in?” – “It’s really comfortable actually.” – “Great, is it more comfortable than the one you have at home?”

“Yes! Definitely.” – “Great.” Decision seven. “When were you looking for delivery?” – “There’s no hurry actually as we have to decorate.” – “Ok good – this sofa is actually made to order for you so delivery at the moment is September – does that work for you?”

“Yes, that’s ok. Might it come sooner – it’s just that we won’t be ready before?” – “We can ensure it doesn’t – shall we say late September?” – “Yes great.” Decision eight.

“And if you don’t mind me asking, how were you thinking of paying – the only reason I ask is so that you know about our easy ways to pay (explain finance and cash options). Which would suit you best?” Decision nine. “The low monthly payment option seems good – what’s the deposit again please? – “It’s xxx now and xyz per month starting one month after delivery – is that ok for you?” – “Yes, that’s great.” Decision 10. Sold.

Why 7 yeses you ask?

When buying anything, there’s a necessary number of boxes to tick depending on the customer’s needs. On sofas its usually leather or fabric, or a combination eg a 3 seater and 2 seater, colour, comfort, sizes, lead time and cost. After making these 7 decisions most customers are sufficiently satisfied to go ahead. So, is it leather or fabric this time?


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