sales training: refrigeration Selling up is the key

to growing your sales This month, in his regular column for IER, Paul Laville, Manging Director, T21 Training looks at refrigeration, and offers some ideas on how you can improve the performance of this side of your business by taking a step back and asking the right questions.


hen it comes to selling refrigeration, one of the most

common issues we find on the shop floor is the difficulty of ‘selling-up’. When asked why, we’re usually told the same kind of thing and it’s usually a variation on the following: “customers are price- matching”, or “they have a budget”, or “they’ve seen something on the internet they like the look of and they want to know a bit more about it”, or “they just want to replace like-for-like something they’ve had for years”. That’s a lot of barriers and faced with these it can seem difficult enough selling the basic models, let alone selling up to the more expensive stuff. However, it needn’t be so tough. Quite often simply asking the right questions can make all the difference.

Here’s what I mean. Almost everywhere I go I hear salespeople asking the same things: “How much are you looking to spend?”, “Are you looking for a fridge or a fridge freezer? “Built-in or free-standing?” and so on. In principle there’s nothing wrong with this,

after all if somebody is shopping online then they can filter their queries by those same fields to narrow their search, and that’s kind of what you’re doing in stores too because there’s a need to focus only on the products the customer is looking for. Why waste time showing them products they’re not interested in?

Right? Wrong. If that’s the full extent of your questioning then you’re not really selling, because what usually follows these questions is the salesperson dumping a shedload of product information regurgitated from the manufacturers. It’s known

as a ‘product-centric’ approach and it’s one of the biggest barriers to closing a sale on the shop floor. Besides, why would you want to mimic a website product/price search filter? You’re not a piece of software. You’re in a shop, you’re face-to-face with a potential buyer, you can control the conversation and dig deeper, you can adapt your approach to different people who have different needs and instead of explaining everything you know about a fridge or a wine cooler or whatever it is, you can show your customers beneficial features that mean something to them and let them get hands-on with it. Therefore my advice would be to throw those questions out of the window and think about the ‘bigger picture’ instead.

Here’s how. The first thing – and this applies to all products, not just refrigeration – is to learn as much as you can about your customer. You need to discover what issues they have, what problems they encounter, what’s going in their kitchen, what their daily habits are and why they actually need a new thing. Is it because the old one has packed up or is this the first time they’ve bought a fridge? Are they re-designing their kitchen or moving into a new house, has their family grown or shrunk? Are their children babies, toddlers or teenagers filling the fridge

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with God only knows what? What sort of things are going into it anyway? You might think that last one is a dumb question and maybe it is, but ask it anyway because at the very least it will make your customer start to think about what they’ll store inside it and begin visualising the fridge in their own kitchen, plus later on you can show them how best to store their food and bottles – showing them that you do have the knowledge and credibility of an expert. The key is to learn from your customers, to change your questions so that you’re receiving information instead of giving it, at least in those early stages of the conversation. Finally, remember that people are more

likely to buy solutions, which means that any benefits you show them have to be relevant to the information you’ve learned, the issues they currently have. This means that you can pick out the knowledge you’ve acquired from the manufacturers and make it specific to that particular customer. Because don’t forget, the manufacturers don’t know your customers, so the benefits they’ll give you will be relatively generic. It’s down to you to build the bridges between what you learn from the manufacturers and what you learn from your customers. If you can do this, then you’ll change your sales approach from being product-centric to customer-centric and that’s the true value of buying from a real bricks and mortar store with real people on hand to advise, demonstrate and sell. Does that help ‘selling up’? Of course it does, but the question in a way becomes redundant because you’re not so much selling up as selling the solution which best matches your customer’s needs, and if that’s a higher-priced and more profitable product than the one they came in for, your work is done. Happy selling.

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February/March 2020

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